Commentary

RFK Jr. Springs A Super Bowl Surprise, While Mark Wahlberg Prays

RFK Jr. channeled his uncle, Mark Wahlberg invited us to pray with him, and Mr. T walked barefoot on hot coals in three of the Super Bowl’s most fascinating commercials last night.

No one saw the RFK Jr. spot coming, and it made news during the game on the political news sites.

Pictured above, it was unclear from the posted stories if the spot had been adapted entirely from an actual commercial for his Uncle Jack’s 1960 presidential campaign, or if the spot had been produced to look like a JFK campaign ad.

Either way, the creativity that went into the spot made it stand so far out from the pack of Super Bowl commercials that I actually wrote “Wow!” on my notepad.

The spot was reportedly paid for by a super PAC, American Values 2024 (see the fine print on the above photo), in support of Kennedy’s campaign for president, running as an independent. 

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Not that I have ever given Robert F. Kennedy Jr.’s campaign a moment’s thought, but I will concede that to me, the spot successfully linked him to his uncle John F. Kennedy’s legacy, although I am well aware that the nephew could not be more different than his uncle. Or maybe I just really dig vintage animation. 

I also happen to really dig Mr. T, who I once had the extreme pleasure of getting to know many years ago.

So when he turned up in a spot for Skechers, my Super Bowl experience suddenly became greatly enlivened. 

And it goes without saying that anyone who didn’t like this spot is a fool who, of course, should be pitied.

The spot had him slipping into a variety of styles of Skechers footwear in a variety of situations, and boisterously sharing his feelings about the shoes as only Mr. T can.

The spot acknowledged the spelling of “Skechers,” which is unusual to some because the word looks like it needs a “t,” as in “Sketchers.” 

“Put the ‘t’ in Skechers!” demanded Mr. T, who has never been known to speak softly. He dominated the spot so effectively that his co-star, Tony Romo, barely registered, as if he had been struck speechless.

Religion and spirituality got a couple of commercial minutes during the game -- two spots for the Jesus web site HeGetsUs.com, and one for the prayer app Hallow.

In the Hallow spot timed for the current season in the Christian calendar, Mark Wahlberg invited us to “pray with him this Lent.” I haven’t RSVPd yet, but I’m thinking it over.

At least one of the HeGetsUs spots was also timed to the season. The spot showed diverse personages residing on the opposite sides of important issues who were nevertheless washing each other’s feet.

Jesus famously did the same thing when he bathed the feet of his enemies on the night before his crucifixion, says the New Testament. “Jesus didn’t teach hate. He washed feet,” said the spot. Message received.

As noted by many observers in many places in the days leading up to the big game, this year’s commercials were loaded up with celebrities, perhaps in greater numbers than ever before.

I don’t know about that, but a number of the commercials were well-populated with multiple famous faces.

Tom Brady was seen with Wayne Gretzky in a BetMGM spot that starred Vince Vaughn. Tom Brady turned up a second time last night in the elaborate Dunkin’ spot that starred Ben Affleck and his wife Jennifer Lopez, along with supporting actor Matt Damon.

Another quarterback who turned up twice last night was Dan Marino, who was first seen in an M&M’s spot with Scarlett Johansson.

A short time later, he appeared in a spot for Michelob Ultra with Argentine soccer star Lionel Messi and Jason Sudeikis of the Apple TV+ soccer show, “Ted Lasso.”

Another international soccer star, David Beckham, and his wife Victoria were among the ensemble cast assembled to pitch Uber Eats.

This spot starred Jennifer Aniston, “Friends” co-star David Schwimmer, Luke Combs (I think) and Usher, who performed live at halftime.

Putting actors together that many of us know from TV shows in which they co-starred was a mini-trend in the Super Bowl spots. 

Jack McBrayer of “30 Rock” showed up in Tina Fey’s commercial for Booking.com. Aubrey Plaza and Nick Offerman from “Parks and Recreation” were seen piloting a pair of dragons in a spot for Mountain Dew.

It has been said that the old USA Network show “Suits” is one of the most popular shows in the streaming universe. Maybe this explains why two pairs of “Suits” stars were seen in two different commercials last night.

Gina Torres and Rick Hoffman, who played lawyers on “Suits,” co-starred with Judge Judy Sheindlin in a spot in which Judge Judy played “Judge Beauty” for the e.l.f. (eyes, lips, face) cosmetics brand.

Two other “Suits” lawyers -- Patrick J. Adams and Gabriel Macht -- were seen in a star-studded spot for T-Mobile that also included Bradley Cooper (and his mother), Laura Dern, Jennifer Hudson and Common. Inexplicably, Mr. T was not seen in this T-Mobile commercial. 

In other random reactions to the Super Bowl and its commercials, the Chinese shopping app Temu used the big game to introduce itself to the western world by running the same spot three times. Temu’s tagline: “Shop like a billionaire.”

It was touching to see the late Carl Weathers, who died Feb. 1, still very much alive in a FanDuel commercial that paid tribute to him with a simple “Thanks, Carl, 1948-2024” at the spot’s conclusion.

I also liked the spots for Pluto TV with the farmer who grows couch potatoes. Tell me about it -- that commercial really hit home for me.

As for the game, the Chiefs won in the final seconds of overtime, although my journalistic instincts had me rooting for the 49ers for the simple reason that a victory for them would have made a better story.

Oh, well, another Super Bowl is in the history books. I wonder who the Chiefs will play next year?

1 comment about "RFK Jr. Springs A Super Bowl Surprise, While Mark Wahlberg Prays".
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  1. Ben B from Retired, February 12, 2024 at 11:13 p.m.

    My favorite ads were Nerds, Lionel with Dan, Bud Light Genie with Peyton Manning, Dunkin' Donuts very funny etc.

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