Verizon’s Super Bowl LVIII ad featuring Beyoncé almost broke something: the commercial’s co-star Tony Hale.
The two-time Emmy Award winner struggled to keep the buzzy collaboration a secret from his teenage daughter Loy Ann Hale, but she eventually cracked the code.
“My daughter had gone to her concert and was telling me all about it. I didn’t go, but she and I had just seen the ‘Renaissance’ film. I’m obviously a fan. The whole thing was incredibly cool and exciting,” Hale told Variety. But keeping the commercial covert was especially challenging after his wife, Martel Thompson Hale — who is a makeup artist — worked with him on the ad.
“For the three weeks after we couldn’t mention it. We were like, ‘This is killing us.’ She had asked, ‘What are you guys doing?’ I said, ‘Oh, we’re just shooting this industrial for a tech company.’ She didn’t think twice about it.”
But his daughter started piecing together the clues when teasers were sent throughout the week.
“She coded it. She’s a big Taylor Swift fan, too, and it’s all about hints and coding. She picked up on the lemons and me saying ‘hold up’ in the beginning of the teaser. I kind of didn’t want her to see the teaser, because I wanted to tape her when she was watching the Super Bowl, but these teenagers are just too smart.”
The standout big-game ad — a play on Bey’s ability to “break the internet” — shows the “Cuff It” and “Crazy in Love” hitmaker attempting to break Verizon’s 5G network by going live at a lemonade stand, playing the sax, embodying “BarBey,” running for BOTUS (Beyoncé of the United States of America) and performing in outer space. All with Hale dutifully at her side.
“We’re the obvious pair!” Hale told Variety. “I love the contrast of, like, just the most powerful icon, and then … me! The guy who typically plays emasculated sidekicks!”
Indeed, Hale is no stranger to that typecasting, playing second-fiddle to larger-than-life TV characters Selina Meyer (Julia Louis-Dreyfus) in “Veep” and Lucille Bluth (Jessica Walter) in “Arrested Development.” But the actor embraced it, as well as his time with Bey, describing the singer as “the kindest person.”
“Obviously, she’s incredibly talented, but she could not be more down to earth,” he said. “That’s what’s cool about this business: When you do meet these icons, you see the humanity. She’s very normal and sweet.”
Not surprisingly, even this very normal and sweet icon is a marketing genius. At the conclusion of the ad and after none of Bey’s attempts to break the network worked, the singer turned her unexpected tongue-in-cheek act into a real-life surprise drop — during the most-watched TV event of all time. She announced the release of new music from Act II of “Renaissance,” the country-inspired singles “Texas Hold ‘Em” and “16 Carriages.”
“My takeaway was that I’d like to see her do more comedy,” Times television critic Robert Lloyd wrote in his review of the big-game ads. “That the investment was overwhelmingly in comedy is sensible: Funny spots are more likely to be remembered, talked about, reposted and if brevity is the soul of wit, as it certainly is of the modern attention span, repetition is the soul of advertising.”
And just like that, the cowboy hat Bey wore to the Grammy Awards earlier this month made so much more sense.