Halftime shows, trailers and Taylor Swift: everything you need to know about the Super Bowl

Every year the Super Bowl, the pinnacle event of the American football season, presents a huge half-time music show and some jaw dropping unique and innovative trailers for its estimated 110-million strong television audience.

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It’s Super Bowl weekend! 

While most Europeans will be tucked up in bed when the actual American football game airs, the biggest event in US sport is still a huge cultural event many around the world will catch up on the next day.

The game itself is a battle between the Kansas City Chiefs and the San Francisco 49ers. Yeah, I don’t know what that means either, but I’m sure the tactics, tackling, throwing and kicking… or a combination of all these, will be a tense showdown of sporting talent. Is Travis Kelce at least in one of the teams? It’s hard to say.

Anyway, sport is the last of the reasons I’m excited about the Super Bowl. Instead, the Super Bowl promises three tantalising things for the cultural obsessive – the halftime show, upcoming film trailers, and stunt-casting adverts. Let’s go through what we have to look forward to.

The legendary halftime show

In the early Super Bowls, most halftime shows were performed by a college marching band. That changed when famous musicians started being hired from the 70s onwards. Since Michael Jackson’s mind blowing performance in 1993, the halftime show has pivoted to celebrate living legends.

Halftime shows have included everyone from Diana Ross, The Rolling Stones, Prince, Madonna, and Beyoncé. The last two years included 2022’s showcase of hip-hop greats Dr. Dre, Snoop Dogg, Eminem, Mary J. Blige and Kendrick Lamar, while last year’s show featured a heavily pregnant Rihanna returning from time out of the spotlight to perform the most-watched halftime show in history.

Big boots to fill then. This year’s booking is American R&B legend Usher. The ‘Yeah!’ singer has already performed at the Super Bowl before as a special guest for the Black Eyed Peas 2011 show where he performed his song ‘OMG’ with will.i.am.

At this point, guest appearances are almost guaranteed for a halftime show and likely candidates will be the featured artists on Usher’s biggest tunes, including Lil Jon, Ludacris, Pitbull, and potentially will.i.am. Perhaps Usher will surprise us though and bring out someone unexpected. I’m still hoping for Ms. Lauryn Hill. She’s certainly a better option than him bringing out convicted violent felon Chris Brown, who Usher’s featured on a song with – post attack on Rihanna.

Already confirmed to feature in the pre-game celebrations are country musician Reba McEntire, rapper Post Malone, singer Andra Day, and DJ Tiësto, who will also be the first ever in-game DJ. Whatever horrifying thing that means.

Why are Super Bowl trailers and ads a big deal?

Before we go into the line-up of expected trailers and already-revealed adverts that will play through the Super Bowl broadcast and during the halftime, it’s worth spending a moment questioning why they’re worth pausing over in the first place.

The quoted figure for a Super Bowl advert runs at a whopping $7 million (€6.5 million) per 30 seconds. For a multi-minute trailer, it’s a quick way to wrack up a pretty shocking credit card bill for the poor soul running the marketing campaign.

A decade-old analysis of films with trailers at the event between 2004 and 2014 showed films saw an $8.4 million increase in their opening weekend takings. But with many films launching their first trailers in advance on social media, is it still an effective marketing tool?

For some films – like last year’s The Flash and Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny – having a trailer at the Super Bowl won’t necessarily guarantee box office success. Even financial successes like last year’s Fast X, didn’t exactly shatter the franchise’s lofty expectations. Instead it under-delivered on the previous iteration’s success, which had also received the Super Bowl trailer treatment.

There’s an argument it’s not worth the shell-out anymore, particularly if the majority of the films that can afford a Super Bowl trailer in their budgets are the superhero fare that’s faced a sharp box office downturn in recent years.

Still, the Super Bowl is a massive opportunity, as far as advertisers are concerned. Last year’s game was watched by more than 115 million people and the PopChips adverts generated worldwide headlines for reuniting the ‘Breaking Bad’ stars Bryan Cranston and Aaron Paul, months before the Hollywood actors strike repeated the feat.

Tipped trailers and adverts

So far, the trailers for the Super Bowl halftime show are unconfirmed. Many of the trailers will be the first glimpse of films for audiences, while others will be new content from films with trailers already out.

According to Variety, the films with trailers to be expected this year are as follows:

  1. Deadpool 3
  2. Inside Out 2
  3. Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes
  4. A Quiet Place: Day One
  5. IF
  6. Bob Marley: One Love
  7. Wicked
  8. The Fall Guy
  9. Kung Fu Panda 4
  10. Twisters

It’s not exactly the most inspiring list, largely made out of the big name releases most would expect the studios to champion. The game will be broadcast on CBS, a division of Paramount. So it’s no surprise three of the films are Paramount vehicles, although a genuine treat would have been a teaser for Gladiator 2.

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The other studios present are Disney and Universal with no entries in the reported list from Warner Bros., Sony, Netflix, or Amazon.

On the advert front, Uber Eats have amassed some of the biggest names for a group of ads across the game. First, ‘Friends’ stars Jennifer Aniston and David Schwimmer reunite, then power couple David and Victoria Beckham star.

Super Bowl ads this year will run the gamut from exhausting glut – Kris Jenner promoting Oreos – to the off-key – Eric André starring in a Drumstick promo – before landing on the gold tier, legendary TikTokker Francesca Scorsese and her dad Marty making a website for Squarespace.

Swift economics

And then finally, there’s the other big draw for culture fans not interested in the big business of throwing and catching balls. Or is it kicking in American football? It is named after feet, after all. Someone please tell me, I really don’t know. 

That final factor is Kansas City Chief tight end Travis Kelce’s current boo, Taylor Swift. Since the mega-popstar started dating Kelce, the sheer gravity of her media coverage has created a halo effect for the NFL. 

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Through countless camera shots of her cheering on Kelce to the pap shots of the pair together outside of games, Swift has brought an entire new audience to the sport. 

Swift will likely be jetting to the game this weekend after her recent set of tour dates in Japan. If she is in attendance, expect the many cameras at the stadium to spend more than their fair share of time on her. Advertisers are already expecting this to be the most viewed Super Bowl in history, and Swift is a key part in what will make their advertising spend worthwhile.