AI and Robot Angst Highlight 2019 Super Bowl Commercials

Source: YouTube screen grab

February 01, 2019      

The Super Bowl has often been exciting, sure, but a lot of people really love watching Super Bowl commercials as well to get a few laughs in between the sports action. This year, we’ve spotted a lot of ads featuring robot angst and general technology grumpiness, but that’s nothing new (see below).

In recent years, many companies have released their ads ahead of time on YouTube, hoping to get some buzz before the big game, and it gives us in the media a chance to write about the ads before they air on Sunday.

For this year, in addition to the multitude of ads featuring celebrities, cute animals, and heartstring-pulling, we’re seeing ads that make fun of technology, especially robots and AI. Here’s a sample:

Michelob Ultra – Workout robot

Clearly, the folks at Michelob don’t like robots. In this ad, a robot is doing a lot of the workouts “better” than the fit humans, but they get revenge in the end. Take that, robot who can’t enjoy beer! Well, at least you can play Jenga better.

Amazon – Cranky about Alexa

Amazon likes to poke fun at itself a lot, but there’s an underpinning of grumpiness around its 2019 Super Bowl ad, featuring celebrities Forrest Whitaker and Harrison Ford. In discussing Alexa products that “didn’t work”, we see things like an Alexa dog collar and an Alexa toothbrush.

What might be funnier is this teaser ad featuring Ford. We’re with you, Mr. Ford.

Pringles’ Sad Device

While not officially an Echo device, it’s pretty clear from this Pringles ad that the voice assistant seen here is referencing the device. Yes, we get it, AI can’t taste foods (yet).

TurboTax’s RoboChild

I’m not sure where TurboTax is going with this ad, which features a sleeping robot engineer who gets awoken by RoboChild, who asks for a drink in the middle of the night. Are they going for the feels, or are they trying to creep out the world with the RoboChild’s face? Or just commenting that robot children will be just as annoying as real children in the middle of the night? I guess we’ll have to wait to see this campaign progresses on Sunday.

Update: Here are some of the smaller ads featuring RoboChild, who wants to grow up and become a TurboTax CPA. Ummm, OK.

Sprint robots and Bo Jackson

There’s at least one ad that doesn’t make fun of robots. Moving off last year’s ad that featured a bunch of robots (see below), Sprint’s robots are back, although this time they’ve brought along two-sport legend Bo Jackson:

SimpliSafe – Using fear of drones and robots

SimpliSafe sells home security technologies, so why not use robots and drones (and things like eating wheat bread) to help sell your service?

Robot ads from previous years

Of course, having robots in Super Bowl commercials are nothing new – they’ve been seen in ads for years now. Here are few others that we found:

Sprint – 2018

Kia – 2014

Bud Light – 2012

Intel – 2010

GM – 2007

Happy Super Bowl Sunday, everyone!