Life Without Alexa Seems Archaic in Amazon’s Super Bowl 54 Spot

A playful look with Ellen Degeneres at what it was like #BeforeAlexa

Amazon's 2020 Super Bowl spot focuses on how much life has changed with Alexa. Amazon
Headshot of Lisa Lacy

Amazon released its Super Bowl 54 spot on Wednesday, which takes a playful look at what life was like #BeforeAlexa—which, for the record, came out in 2014.

The 90-second spot picks up where last week’s teasers left off with the “Alexa, turn down the temperature” gag between comedian Ellen DeGeneres and her wife, actress Portia de Rossi—before launching into a series of historical vignettes featuring assistant-like figures with names that start with A and some nods to current events.

Watch out for the jester in Elizabethan England who is asked to tell a joke—who also happens to be played actor Jamie Demetriou, best known for his role as Bus Rodent on the lauded Amazon series Fleabag—as well as a newsboy named Alex with a ready reply about fake news, and a 1970s-era Richard Nixon, who asks his assistant Alicia to remind him to delete some tapes. (When asked if there were any other cameos worth noting, an Amazon spokesperson said the ad “features celebrity couple Ellen DeGeneres and Portia de Rossi.”)

The ad ends in Ellen and Portia’s car with Ellen asking Alexa to play her favorite song, which turns out to be Usher’s 2004 hit “Yeah!”

While it is somewhat ridiculous to insinuate that most consumers can’t remember life six years ago, the spot takes a whimsical approach to illustrating how much easier we have it now. The undercurrent, of course, is Amazon duking it out with the likes of Google and Apple for dominance in the smart speaker market as consumers overall warm to the idea of voice commerce. Meanwhile, it’s a safe bet Amazon wants to win over as many ecosystem converts as possible during one of the most-watched events of the year for U.S. consumers.

In a blog post about the Super Bowl 54 spot, Amazon encourages consumers to ask, “Alexa, what did we do before you?” and to vote for their favorite ads on USA Today’s Ad Meter. Coincidentally, Amazon’s “Alexa Loses Her Voice” spot was ranked #1 on USA Today’s Ad Meter in 2018, but its Super Bowl rank dropped to #2 last year.

Teams at Amazon and Droga5 London created the 2020 ad. The commercial will air during the third quarter.

Amazon has paired celebrities with Alexa in multiple Super Bowl ads to date: In 2019, it showcased its presumably fictitious Amazon Beta Testing Program and demonstrated why some devices shouldn’t be voice enabled. In 2018, it imagined what would happen if Alexa lost her voice. And in 2016, actor Alec Baldwin hosted #BaldwinBowl with an assist from Alexa.

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@lisalacy Lisa Lacy is a senior writer at Adweek, where she focuses on retail and the growing reach of Amazon.