GLENDALE, Ariz. — As Super Bowl LVII headed toward a dramatic conclusion on Sunday, a prank ad had viewers screaming at their television sets.
The streaming service Tubi ran a commercial that made it appear that viewers’ television screens had been taken over by someone scrolling to the streaming services library to watch something else, according to The Hollywood Reporter.
Tubi had aired a 15-second teaser during the fourth quarter that played off its halftime spot, “Rabbit Hole,” according to Adweek. The streaming service then went in a stupefying direction with its second surprise 15-second commercial.
The ad made it appear as if Fox Sports Super Bowl announcers Kevin Burkhardt and Greg Olsen had returned from a commercial break. That is when the promo, called “Interface Interruption,” caused viewers to wonder if someone was fooling around with the family remote.
As the Chiefs and Eagles were engaged in a tense fourth-quarter duel, it made the interruption that much more maddening.
In the video’s caption on YouTube, Tubi wrote, “No, you didn’t sit on the remote,” Tubi wrote in the video’s caption on YouTube. “But on Super Bowl Sunday, we fooled audiences into thinking they did.”
Eagles fans in Philadelphia fans were already steaming after Comcast suffered an outage in the area, USA Today reported. This intensified their frustration.
Tubi’s prank ad was done in partnership with the agency Mischief and was approved to air at the last minute, Adweek reported.
“It’s something that will make you think that somebody in the room changed your channel to Tubi,” Greg Hahn, co-founder of Mischief, told Adweek. “You’re watching what you think is back to the broadcast.”
A follow-up 15-second promo titled “Gardener” also ran, but by that time, some football fans were panicking.
For older pro football fans, cutting away from a game stirred memories of the infamous “Heidi Game” in 1968. However, that was a real programming move.
There was 1:05 left in the game between the New York Jets and the Oakland Raiders. New York held a 32-29 lead but Oakland was driving for a go-ahead score when NBC switched to its regular network programming and aired the television adaptation of “Heidi,” the story of a young orphaned Swiss girl, according to Bleacher Report.
Since it was 7 p.m. in the eastern half of the U.S., NBC said it was forced to switch to the movie due to prior arrangements.
Oakland scored to go ahead with 42 seconds to play, and the Raiders recovered a fumble on the ensuing kickoff in the end zone to complete a shocking 43-32 comeback victory.
NBC’s move was calculated and received loads of criticism. Tubi’s move, while also calculated and part of a commercial -- and not live action -- was only a temporary inconvenience to puzzled Super Bowl fans.
“We can’t be forgettable in this moment,” Tubi Chief Marketing Officer Nicole Parlapiano told Adweek. “It’s our coming out. I want to shock, and I want to surprise, and I want to get attention.”
“Nicole and the Tubi team came to us with a unique brief for the streaming sector: Reveal Tubi to the world, personality-first. Not title-first,” Hahn told The Hollywood Reporter. “These spots reveal a personality we’ve had fun creating over the past few months: Quirky, playful and a bit unexpected.
“Tubi is poised to be the troublemaker of the streaming world.”