Get ready for a taste of “Saturday Night Live” on Super Bowl Sunday.
Scarlett Johansson and Colin Jost, the “Avengers” star and “Weekend Update” anchor, famously got married after meeting at “SNL.” Now they are set to appear in their first project together: a Super Bowl commercial for Amazon’s Alexa.
“There’s something nice about the fact that there has never been anything with them together,” says Claudine Cheever, vice president of global brand and fixed marketing for Amazon, in an interview. “It’s a mystery element: What are they like together?”
In a 60-second ad slated to air early in the fourth quarter on NBC’s broadcast of Super Bowl LVI on February 13, Johansson and Jost wonder what things might be like if Amazon’s Alexa voice device could read minds. The results are funny and cringeworthy in equal measure, and the actors “were very involved in the joke writing,” Cheever says.
Advertisers like PepsiCo and Anheuser-Busch InBev get a lot of credit for their annual appearances in the Super Bowl, but Amazon has been a steady sponsor for the past six years, using the Big Game to tout everything from new series on its streaming-video service to its various home gadgets. In addition to the Alexa commercial, Amazon is planning to run a spot promoting its new control over the NFL’s “Thursday Night Football” as part of a mammoth series of rights deals between the league and several media companies.
For Amazon, getting its message out has long relied on using popular celebrities. In the past, the company has enlisted Cardi B, Rebel Wilson, Harrison Ford and Anthony Hopkins, among others.
The top criteria in deciding who to use? “Celebrities work well for us when they will poke fun at themselves, and are willing to have fun with themselves rather than just show up and be themselves,” says Cheever. “It’s something we are always thinking about when we are casting.” And it helps the company embrace some of the quirkiness inherent in Alexa, which sometimes responds to consumers in ways they never anticipated.
Jost is just the latest in a parade of current “Saturday Night Live” cast members who have taken up sidelines in the world of advertising. Kate McKinnon, Kenan Thompson, Pete Davidson and Chloe Fineman are just some of the “SNL” players who are increasingly turning up in ads for everything from Verizon to Smartwater.
To draw attention to its latest Super Bowl effort for Alexa, Amazon intends to release teasers on social media featuring other self-effacing celebs, like RuPaul from the series “RuPaul’s Drag Race.“ And a 90-second teaser with Jost and Johansson has already started to make the rounds — the better to let people see a pile of jokes that was just too big to cram into the 60-second version of the ad.