Feb 15, 2024 - Technology

Big Tech sells AI during the Super Bowl

Illustration of two hands making a camera frame shape around sparkly balloon numbers "01".

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

The majority of Americans feel more concerned than excited about AI, according to Pew Research.

Why it matters: Microsoft, Google and Anthropic are hoping good, old-fashioned marketing tactics can change hearts and minds.

By the numbers: Sunday's football game was the most-watched telecast in history, according to preliminary Nielsen figures, with 123.4 million viewers, giving these tech companies ample opportunity to sway public opinion.

Details: In its first Super Bowl ad since 2020, Microsoft's "Watch Me" spot resembled a pump-up video of sorts, which showcased how its AI assistant, Copilot, can empower humans to achieve more and make "hopes become reality."

  • Google's 60-second spot took a more human-centric approach — similar the the Google brand voice that audiences have become accustomed to over the years — and highlighted how a new AI 'Guided Frame' feature can help blind or low vision users to more easily take photos.

Anthropic, the AI startup backed by Amazon, was less effective. The company aired a five-second ad that read, "Claude is a next-generation AI assistant."

  • The spot did little to explain what Claude was or how it could serve consumers. When asked about the goals and objectives of the ad, reps for Anthropic did not respond. A request for a clip of the ad was also ignored.

Between the lines: One of the biggest hurdles for marketing AI as a tool is that it isn't a tangible tech device, like a phone or laptop.

  • Marketers can solve this disconnect by showcasing how these tools can be used to help people in their everyday lives, says Jenna Isken, group director of experience at the branding agency Siegel+Gale.

What they're saying: "To me, Google was the one that made the most strides in giving us a 'so what' foundation to understand AI," says Isken.

  • "At the Super Bowl party I attended, that was one of the few commercials that broke through the clutter to start a conversation. A friend pointed to the screen and told her husband, 'Without my glasses, that's what I see!' It then turned into a whole conversation about solving challenges we face and gave AI a front-row seat to that."

What to watch: Expect PR professionals and marketers in tech to continue to spend big with hopes of instilling warm-fuzzy feelings around AI.

Go deeper... Microsoft's game-changing Super Bowl ad

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