The Real Winner of the 2018 Super Bowl Was ... David Harbour
“I think he’s a bit psychotic, to be honest. That’s what I love about him. He’s just like a trickster. That’s why I relate him to a Greek god. He’s like Hermes or like a coyote in Native American literature. He’s like this trickster artist who just shows up and messes with whatever pool he’s in and ripples the waves in real ways.” — David Harbour, on his latest character, which was created for the Super Bowl
You know how it is when you’re watching the Super Bowl in a large gathering, half in the bag with one eye on the TV and one ear listening to someone else talking? That was me last night, and I had the strangest sensation that Stranger Things’s David Harbour was in 30 percent of all of last night’s Super Bowl ads. Every time I looked up, there was David Harbour in a different ad, and because I only half watched them, I didn’t realize until today that they were all for the same company. It might have been confusing for others who only half watched, because the main spot ad was a parody of other Super Bowl commercial tropes:
No, Harbour wasn’t in a car commercial, a jewelry commercial, and a beer commercial. He was in a Tide commercial.
He also appeared alongside Terry Bradshaw in a couple of self-mocking ads:
And I guess Tide had yet another $5 million laying around to purchase two 15-second ads, both featuring David Harbour.
And you know what this says to me? 1) That Harbour should be paying Tide for all the exposure he got; and 2) Stranger Things is huge, probably in ways that we don’t realize because we don’t have access to their viewership numbers. Adults know it. Kids know it. It’s appealing across genres. And Harbour is recognizable enough from it for Tide — who must have spent $20 million on ads last night — to take a risk on that “wacky dude from Stranger Things.”
Harbour has been around for a long time, but Netflix made him a star, and I think we’re going to be seeing a lot more “Netflix stars” in our future. I mean: We have them now. Taylor Schilling, Danielle Brooks, Uzo Aduba, Claire Foy, Dylan Minnette, and Betty Gilpin, etc., but Harbour is basically the most A-list star of Netflix now.
It’s worth noting, too, that this is a pretty good recovery for a toxic product that has been associated with being eaten by kids for the last few months.