Even with a trip to Donald Trump’s White House up for grabs for the winner – the New England Patriots beating the Los Angeles Rams 13-3 – Monday’s Super Bowl LIII was hailed as surprisingly dull.
The lack of intensity was also a theme during the much-anticipated half-time show.
In the past, Super Bowl entertainment has seen showbizzy excitement including 2004’s Janet Jackson’s ‘Nipplegate’ wardrobe malfunction and the breakout of the ‘Left Shark’ during Katy Perry’s 2015’s set.
This year, Maroon 5 was hired to bring it and were expected to acquit themselves well given the band’s arsenal of pleasant pop hits and the family-friendly sexiness of singer Adam Levine.
In the end, half-time was a fizzer, with Levine’s singlet (“looks like my futon” noted one Twitter user) then its removal during Moves Like Jagger the only vaguely stirring moment. Viewers pounced on the double standards between Jackson and Levine’s reveals.
“The only physiological purpose of the male nipple is to distract from an inability to dance or sing,” tweeted public health lecturer and author James Hamblin.
Super Bowl halftime nipple rules feel inconsistent
— Katie Nolan (@katienolan) February 4, 2019
Then came an uncontrived genuine wow moment.
In an unheralded move, HBO teamed up with beer company Anheuser-Busch InBev for a weird Bud Light and Game of Thrones crossover commercial.
With the show’s final season still months away – it premieres on April 14 – the sight of anything new associated with Game of Thrones (Drogon! The Mountain!) had global media and fans in an immediate tailspin.
“What will you do for the throne?” asked the Twitter post from the show’s official account, saying “The Bud Knight’s watch has ended”.
The ad kicked off referencing Bud Light’s viral “Dilly Dilly” medieval fantasy campaign, in which characters cheer “Dilly Dilly!” at a jousting tournament.
But then Gregor ‘The Mountain’ Clegane showed up as a contender and the show’s Rains of Castamere song plays.
The ad then became a montage of GoT memorable moments, including the head-squishing death of Oberyn Martell and Drogon sweeping in to send everyone to a fiery death.
As the ad ended, the full Game of Thrones theme was at full tilt and HBO’s logo reminded viewers that just like winter, the final season is coming: “For the throne”, said a hashtag.
— Game Of Thrones (@GameOfThrones) February 4, 2019
The one-minute, 35-second ad’s creation “reunited more than 25 people from the Game of Thrones crew under the direction of David Nutter, the man who orchestrated the infamous The Red Wedding episode among others,” said an HBO press release.
Showrunners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss also collaborated, along with two advertising studios.
According to The Wall Street Journal, the teaser spot is the “biggest and boldest marketing tie-in the AT&T Inc.-owned cable network has ever orchestrated”.
The media outlet also reported HBO considered partnering with other brands for the surprise Game of Thrones crossover.
“HBO considered several potential partners, including car makers and Coca-Cola Co,” the WSJ said.
While the beverage giant was never approached, “HBO had envisioned pitching a script that involved having Coke’s iconic polar bear turn into a ‘white walker’, a zombie-like creature from the show”.
Despite the surprise element of the ad and GOT’s rusted-on loyal fans, its reviews were mixed at best, with suggestions the lauded, beloved series had sold out.
One Twitter user called blending the creative purity of Game of Thrones with a beer ad “the eighth deadly sin”.
Asked another, “How is Bud Light currently producing more Game of Thrones content than George RR Martin?”
That Bud Light ad turning into a Game of Thrones ad means that all of the latter's Emmy Awards have been stripped, by ruling of the Television Critics Association.
— Todd VanDerWerff (@tvoti) February 4, 2019
combining a game of thrones trailer with a bud light commercial is the eighth deadly sin but they did it anyway smh
— leah (@lkline1998) February 4, 2019
Others were more pumped than Daenerys with a monologue to deliver to Tyrian.