Watching young Londoners attempt to play Beer Pong during the pre-game show was like watching a bunch of dads dance at a wedding. It just looked wrong for all the right reasons. Finally the madness drew to a natural conclusion when a few young American students entered the bar to explain the rules. Finally the scrum of British lads left the expert cup flippers to it, and retreated to their seats, and we got back to the business of watching America's finest sporting event. Our eyes shifted back to the assortment of big screens that plastered every wall of the venue, and I decided it was time for a Super Bowl selfie (that's me below middle photo, on the left). The guy next to me was about to become a very disappointed Panthers fan. In contrast, the lady on the right became increasingly joyous as the evening progressed, for obvious reasons. As a 49ers fan, I wasn't rooting for either team so was able to relax, sit back, and enjoy what turned out to be a decent game, but not what you'd call a "nail-biter".
Every year there's a battle to be the most talked about Super Bowl ad, and this year was no exception. All the usually suspects jostled for position, and in my opinion the best ad was Amazon's "Alec Baldwin's Super Bowl Party" featuring Dan Marino, Jason Schwartzman, and Missy Elliott (see video below).
The 60-second ad featured an extravagant Super Bowl party hosted by Alec Baldwin. It start with the camera panning across a room full of people chatting and dancing. NFL Hall of Fame quarterback Dan Marino, is seen "dad dancing" with one of the other guest. This is suddenly interrupted when the host stops the music using only voice command. This is not only a clear attempt to impress his guests, but also a way to get Marino to stop dancing. It appears that the nuisance guest has, for some reason, irritated him. Perhaps there's some hidden context I'm not aware of (again please feel free to comment below), or he wanted to stop Marino from embarrassing himself as his dance moves were so poor, or perhaps Baldwin's actions have an ulterior motive, as the person dancing with him was the infamous Missy Elliot.
Either way, when Baldwin puts the party on hold, and there's a hushed silence, Amazon Echo takes centre stage. The device constantly listens out for the word "Alexa", and upon hearing it, the smart home hub responds obediently to do its master's bidding. In this case, after stopping the music it is then told to light up an insanely intricate food display, which is also a scaled-down replica of Levi Stadium, that the egotistical host has naturally called "Baldwin Stadium". It has flood lighting, a pitch, goal posts, a big screen TV, all surrounded by layer upon layer of snacks, canapés and other sweet and savoury delights. It also has hilarious little screens that sport scrolling LED displays with the hashtag #BaldwinBowl. It's brilliantly done, and highly amusing in my opinion.
In addition to lighting up elaborate in-home stadiums, Alexa can also voice control an increasing number of connected devices produced by other smart home OEMs such as Philips (Hue), Belkin (WeMo), Samsung (SmartThings), Insteon, and Wink.
The ad does a really excellent job of communicating how homes of the not-so-distant future will increasingly be operated by artificial intelligence. By using the gift of comedy, the ecommerce giant will have successfully entered the minds, and soon the homes, of millions of consumers across America, making it a major player within the smart home sector. This well-deserved PR coup will be at the expense of the likes of Apple, Google, Samsung, and Microsoft, all of which are aggressively vying for a slice of what will soon become a multi-billion dollar market. For further details, see my previous post "Who will Rule the Connected Home in 2020?".
Throughout the remainder of the commercial, Kevin Hart is seen stalking the couple; poking his head out of a big pile of soft toys while the poor boyfriend chaperones the father's daughter to a fun fair. He then follows them to the cinema, and continues to comically scupper any chance of romance. Finally the boyfriend abandons the date, all thanks to the father's ability to track the movements of his Hyundai Genesis - mission accomplished! As a result, methinks sales of the Genesis will do poorly among males below the age of thirty, but very well among what is presumably the company's target demographic - older males, especially those who feel the need to keep an eye on their teen daughter's whereabouts!