LGBTQ+ Stars Take Center Stage in This Year’s Super Bowl Ads

GLAAD saw a "rainbow wave" at the game with LGBTQ+ stars on the field and in ads

jonathan van ness with pop tarts, someone in space, someone at a game
Members of the LGBTQ community headlined numerous ads in Super Bowl 54. Pop-Tarts, Microsoft, Olay
Headshot of Richard Collings

Members of the LGBTQ community and their allies made their presence known at this year’s Super Bowl, starring in ads across industries for everything from Sabra hummus to Olay skin-care and Amazon’s Alexa voice assistant. The broad-ranging inclusivity makes for what is likely the most diverse ad cast in the Big Game’s history.

At least 11 LGBTQ-inclusive ads aired during the game, according to GLAAD, a media advocacy organization for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer people. The organization also noted that singer Demi Lovato, who openly identifies as bisexual, performed the national anthem.

“The level of diverse LGBTQ inclusion from over 10 brands during advertising’s biggest night, coupled with Katie Sowers’ trailblazing role on the field as offensive assistant coach of the 49ers, marked a rainbow wave at the Super Bowl this year,” said Sarah Kate Ellis, president and CEO of GLAAD, in a statement.

“Family-friendly brands today include all families, including LGBTQ ones. GLAAD has long been advocating for brands to feature LGBTQ people in Super Bowl ads, and this year American families saw and cheered a diverse range of LGBTQ icons— it’s about time,” Ellis added.

Rapper Lil Nas X, television personality Jonathan Van Ness, social media star and comedian Lilly Singh, soccer players Kelley O’Hara, Ali Krieger and Ashlyn Harris, and drag queens Kim Chi and Miz Cracker all made appearances.

The Big Game ad lineup also included Sowers, the first female and gay coach to help bring an NFL team to the Super Bowl, television host Ellen DeGeneres along with her actress wife Portia de Rossi, Schitt’s Creek star Emily Hampshire, and trans actresses Trace Lysette and Isis King.

Lysette and King starred in TurboTax’s ad, bringing the ballroom scene to a football audience. Lil Nas X stayed true to form, bringing his hit song Old Town Road for PepsiCo’s Doritos, an ad co-starring actor Sam Elliott with a cameo by Billy Ray Cyrus.

Van Ness, one of the stars of Netflix’s Queer Eye, added some sparkle to a 30-second spot for Kellogg’s. The Gay of Thrones host tapped into his inner Vanna White to introduce the new Pop-Tarts Pretzel.

Singh, meanwhile, put on a spacesuit to star in P&G’s Olay ad, while Tide detergent featured Hampshire. Soccer stars Krieger and Harris appear near the end of Budweiser’s commercial, following their starring roles on the U.S. women’s national soccer team. O’Hara, another member of the team, got a spot of her own with Under Armour.

In addition, Kim Chi and Miz Cracker, of RuPaul’s Drag Race fame, partnered up in an ad for Sabra, a hummus brand jointly owned by PepsiCo and the Straus Group. The spot showcases some 19 personalities in all, including T-Pain, Doug the Pug and Real Housewives of New Jersey stars Teresa Giudice and Caroline Manzo.

And Microsoft highlighted the bio of Sowers, while Amazon tapped couple DeGeneres and de Rossi for its #BeforeAlexa spot for Amazon.

GLAAD said this year’s Super Bowl marked the largest number of LGBTQ-inclusive ads in the history of the game. The Big Game has come a long way over the years. In 2007, Snickers pulled its Super Bowl ad that showed two men accidentally kissing, and then reacting with disgust.


@RichCollings richard.collings@adweek.com Richard Collings is a retail reporter at Adweek.
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