NEW YORK (AP) — Super Bowl Sunday is kicking off. Prepare to be entertained... by the ads.
Each year's slate of Super Bowl ads offers a snapshot of the American psyche. Forty-plus brands have shelled out millions for the chance to win over live-TV viewers of Super Bowl 53 with a combination of humor, celebrities and heartfelt messages.
The ads run from silly to the serious. Avocados from Mexico featured a pet show where the humans get judged, while The Washington Post will honor missing and slain journalists in its Super Bowl debut.
They're aiming to capture the attention of the 100 million viewers expected to tune in on Sunday. Many marketers released their ads online in the days before the game but there were still a few surprises from Google, Bud Light and others.
"Advertisers are not being heavy-handed," said Kelly O'Keefe, a professor at Virginia Commonwealth University's Brandcenter. "Everyone's focused on entertaining us tonight and that's probably just right for this year."
O'Keefe said advertisers were mostly avoiding social and cultural topics.
"They want to sit those things out," he said. "They're a little too toxic for the world right now."
That didn't mean that the ads were devoid of cultural markers. Women's empowerment has among the themes that took center stage.
Hulu kicked it off with a first quarter ad for its next season of the feminist show "The Handmaid's Tale." Next, Serena Williams appeared as spokeswoman for Bumble, which bills itself as a feminist dating app where women make the first move. The tennis icon urges women not to wait to be given power, saying, "we already have it."
Later in the evening, supermodel Karlie Kloss will play up her identity as a businesswoman in an ad for Wix.com. She wears an understated green T-shirt to show how she used the platform to create her professional website.
Toyota highlighted the perseverance of Antoinette "Toni" Harris, a female football player at a California community college.