New England’s 13-3 victory over the Los Angeles Rams in Super Bowl LIII didn’t qualify as exactly an artistic success.
In many ways the game — which featured the combined fewest points in Super Bowl history — was a dud.
But at least the NFL’s commercial celebrating the start of its 100th season in 2019 featured a little more pizazz crammed into two minutes than the game itself did.
The commercial ran during halftime. It featured former and current NFL stars at a banquet celebrating the league’s upcoming centennial season.
Among those who made cameo appearances in the ad included Drew Brees, Jim Brown, Tom Brady, Deion Sanders, Marshawn Lynch, Mike Singletary, Joe Montana, Terry Bradshaw, Peyton Manning, Patrick Mahomes and many others.
The commercial was a hit for consumers, finishing first in USA Today’s annual Ad Meter which ranks Super Bowl ads by consumer ratings.
The ad begins at a black-tie dinner to celebrate the league’s upcoming 100th season. But it quickly devolves into a slapstick banquet-hall brawl like something out of “The Three Stooges” when a golden football from atop a many-tiered cake falls off and hits the floor.
Soon, the all-pro cast is seen throwing, catching and intercepting and recovering the hot-potato football.
“I feel honored to help ring in the NFL’s centennial season with a piece of creative that brings to life the passion, energy and storied history of football,” commercial director Peter Berg said in a statement. “In fact, it’s one of the coolest things I’ve done in my career.”
That’s saying something. Berg served as the director of the acclaimed series “Friday Night Lights” and another celebrated ad during Sunday’s commercial recruiting. His Verizon commercial in which Los Angeles Chargers coach Anthony Lynn met the first responders who saved his life also was ranked as one of the top commercials seen during Sunday’s game.
The NFL commercial also featured female youth football player Sam Gordon, sportscaster Beth Mowins, Fortnite gamer Tyler “Ninja” Blevins, and NFL official Sarah Thomas.
“It was important to us that the spot was inclusive and emblematic of football’s expansive influence on American culture,” NFL executive vice president Tim Ellis said in a statement.
“As we approach our centennial season,” he said, “we’re not just embracing football’s rich heritage but also looking toward the next 100 years.”
The NFL’s advertisement received almost universal artistic plaudits, but the best part of it might have been how cheaply the league pulled off the ad.
According to Darren Rovell of Action Network, the NFL did not pay a dime to any of the dozens of players who appeared in the ad. According to his report, the only expenses the league paid was for the setup and regular shoot expenses.
Even better for the league, the NFL got the advertising space for free, provide them with the ultimate value compared to what other companies paid millions for advertisements in the game’s inventory.
Not only did the NFL get the commercial time for free for its award-winning ad (a $21.4 million). It didn’t pay a single player to be in it, aside from expenses to attend shoot. pic.twitter.com/VcIWGuu54u
— Darren Rovell (@darrenrovell) February 4, 2019
So the league’s own commericial trumped even the league’s game.