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  • Pam Zucker

A Las Vegas Spectacular, That Offered a Sense of Togetherness and Humanity Amongst the Turmoil in Our Lives

Super Bowl LVIII was a powerful cauldron of expected and unexpected storylines coming together including celebrity, music, love, religion, politics, and sports that together created magical and mystical storylines, as only an event in Las Vegas can. The result of this potent alchemy was the highest rated television program of all time with 123.4 million viewers. They were not all watching for the terrific football match alone – they watched for the uniquely American experience of power, pop culture and a unified American experience.

Let’s get some numbers to help our narrative. The total number of broadcast minutes from kick-off to final score in overtime was 4 hours and 14 minutes (or 254 minutes). When you account for the commercials (@ 50 mins) and the half-time show (@ 30 mins) you get about 31% of broadcast time not related to game play and geared to the broader mass/non-football (Swiftie) inclined audience. So clearly, the Super Bowl has something for everyone.

There was a long list of A+ celebrities at the game: Jay Z, Beyoncé, The Kardashians, Ciara and Russell Wilson, Paul McCartney, Gwen Stefani and Blake Shelton, Queen Latifah, Jon Hamm, Jared Leto, Paul Rudd and many, many more who were captured on screen as the camera spanned the stadium. The average ticket price was $8,000. So, this was much more of a live event for the 1%ers than for the masses.

But the masses were not forgotten by the endless list of celebrities in the commercials and several on-field inspiring moments. The music world crashed the Super Bowl. The following musicians starred in commercials: Ice Spice (Starry), Post Malone (Bud Light with Payton Manning and others), Lil Wayne (, Jennifer Hudson (T-Mobile with Bradley Cooper and Laura Dern), Cardi B (NYX), and Jennifer Lopez (Dunkin Donuts with Ben Affleck, Matt Damon and Tom Brady).

Hollywood A-Listers were not out done, however, in the starring role for commercials. This list includes: Tina Fey (, Kate McKinnon (Hellman’s Mayonnaise), Chris Pratt (Pringles), Arnold Schwarzenegger and Danny DeVito (State Farm), Lionel Messi (Michelob), Scarlett Johansson (M&Ms), Christopher Walken (BMW), Vince Vaughn, Tom Brady and Wayne Gretzky (BetMGM), Jennifer Aniston and David Schwimmer (Uber Eats). There was always something to watch during the game and during commercial time.

I cannot write about Super Bowl LVIII without mentioning Taylor Swift (with her besties Ice Spice and Blake Lively) cheering on Travis Kelce from their $1 million box. The Big Game had the added excitement of following Swift’s flight from Tokyo to Las Vegas (and tracked by Jack Sweeney, whose claim to fame was tracking Elon Musk flights, who has received a cease-and-desist letter threatening legal action if he continues to track her activity) to watch her beau. And then we got to see the long congratulatory kiss between Travis and Taylor at the end of the game – that the cameras stayed on as if it was the first kiss between Jack and Rose (Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet) aboard the Titanic’s prow. If it were on ABC rather than CBS they would have likely turned to the camera and said, “Now we’re going to Disney World!”. Maybe they should have winked at the camera and said they were going to the Elvis Chapel in Las Vegas to memorialize their relationship – like it is reported that Usher and long-time partner Jennifer Goicoechea did days before the Big Game in Las Vegas.

We can all debate which was the best play of the game (the trick play when the 49ers scored their only touchdown, that many said should have been penalized for an illegal lineman downfield), or the best commercial (my favorites were Mayo Cat, Dunkin Donuts and State Farm). But I want to observe how the Super Bowl was a microcosm of our times.

The game was not only about football and celebrity but also about a lesson in tolerance and respect for others. A lesson our nation certainly needs – and maybe we are best suited to receive this message through the all-American game of football.

We are a divided nation in so many ways. But one of the primary lessons I took away from Super Bowl messaging is that we are better together when we show our compassion and humanity for others.

This lesson started at the beginning of the pre-game when Cameron Heyward, defensive tackle for the Pittsburgh Steelers was recognized as the winner of the 2023 Walter Payton Man of the Year award. The award, considered the league's highest honor, recognizes a player's off-the-field community service.

Specifically, Heyward was commended for his year-round charitable endeavors, including his annual Cam's Kindness Week, where he reaches out to different factions of the community to offer mentorship and support for struggling youth. Heyward responded to this recognition by saying, "For me it's about trying to impact my community." What a great message to kick off the Super Bowl.

Following Heyward’s recognition, Grammy winner Andra Day, sang “Lift Every Voice and Sing," a song often called the Black national anthem. The NFL has been including this song, along with “America the Beautiful” and the U.S. National Anthem, at the start of the Super Bowl since 2020 when our nation was fueled by anger after the George Floyd murder. Singing lifts our souls and demonstrates the acceptance of different people from diverse backgrounds. It was beautiful.

This was then followed by representatives, players and coaches of the Lahainaluna High School football team as honorary coin toss captains. The opening toss acknowledged the role players and coaches had on their community efforts in the wake of the devastating Maui wildfires in August. NFL Senior Vice President of Social Responsibility, Anna Isaacson said, “The Lahainaluna High School football team embodies the power of football to bring people together, even in the most challenging of circumstances.” Football and community go hand in hand in America.

Then there were several commercial messages that expanded on the idea of shared responsibility for bringing our communities together. These included an ad promoting neighborly love during a time of increased antisemitism and several #HeGetsUs Jesus ads that promoted kindness and love for all people no matter their plight.

Finally, a different spin on humanity was shared via Dove in their ad that promoted the need for girls to have a confident body image to grow into confident women. What a better time and place for this message than when Swiftie nation was tuning into a football game they likely had little knowledge about.

Overall, most Super Bowl commercials felt warm, inclusive, and tried to offer a gentler, friendlier, more community orientation to life. I for one enjoyed an evening of celebration for our fellow humans both on the field and on the screen.

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