The Super Bowl LVIII takes place today (11 February), and the internet is swirling with discussion about the high-profile sports event.
Will Taylor Swift take her private jet there to support her NFL player boyfriend, Travis Kelce? Will Usher strip down to just a pair of Skims underwear during the half-time show? And what well-funded US companies will be spending their hard-earned cash on an expensive Super Bowl ad slot?
At the time of writing, these questions remain unanswered, but what we do know is that the Super Bowl LVIII will mark a significant LGBTQ+ anniversary this year: it’s been a decade since the first Super Bowl commercial to include LGBTQ+ representation aired.
The advert in question was Coke’s “It’s Beautiful” ad, which focused on multiculturalism. As well as showcasing Americans of various races, the ad also featured the first-ever depiction of a queer family: namely, two gay dads, who were shown taking their daughter roller skating.
The 2014 Super Bowl commercial featured a “culturally and linguistically diverse America”, with people singing the song “America The Beautiful” in a variety of languages, and reached over 87 million people. The groundbreaking ad was the top trending topic on Facebook during the Super Bowl and for the 2 days after.
Unfortunately, the reaction to the gay dad section wasn’t all positive at the time – though possibly not for the reason you think. Coca-Cola faced a great deal of backlash for the company’s sponsorship of the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics in wake of Russia’s crackdown on members of the LGBTQ+ community.
Plus, there was also controversy when the company prevented people typing the word ‘gay’ onto its customisable Olympics Coke can, but allowed the word ‘straight’.
These controversies prompted some social media users to accuse the company of ‘pinkwashing‘.
However, Coca-Cola largely brushed off the criticisms.
“Including a gay family in this ad is not only a step forward for the advertising industry, but a reflection of the growing majority of Americans who proudly support their LGBT friends, family and neighbors as integral parts of ‘America the Beautiful,’” said GLAAD president and CEO Sarah Kate Ellis in a statement to The Hollywood Reporter at the time.
“Coca-Cola has demonstrated to corporate America that being LGBT-inclusive is good business, but as the world turns its attention to Sochi for the 2014 Winter Olympics, it’s time for sponsors of the Olympics like Coca-Cola to show the whole world how beautiful LGBT families are,” she continued.
It may have gotten mixed reviews, but at the end of the day the commercial was an advertising milestone.
What will the Super Bowl ads be about this year?
As usual, celebs will be taking centre stage.
“There’s so many this year,” Adweek’s Colin Daniels told The Advocate. “Maybe the biggest is Arnold Schwarzenegger doing a State Farm Ad. There’s also Chris Pratt for Pringles, Kris Jenner for Oreos.”
“One big get, I think, is that global soccer star Lionel Messi is featured in a Michelob Ultra-Light ad.”, adds Daniels. “That’s a huge get, especially since he’s got nearly 500 million Instagram followers, and counting.”
In terms of LGBTQ+ representation, RuPaul’s Drag Race star Heidi N Closet will star in one of the e.l.f. Cosmetics’ ads, and Saturday Night Live and Barbie star Kate McKinnon is in a Hellman’s ad.