Alexa loses her voice, gains celebrity ones in Amazon’s Super Bowl ad

If you bought an Echo smart speaker and Alexa suddenly lost her voice, it’s fair to say you’d be pretty peeved. All your inquiries about the weather and traffic would be met with a stony silence, forcing you to endure the highly inconvenient procedure of firing up your smartphone.

Well, this is the somewhat bizarre scenario presented by Amazon’s Super Bowl ad. Amazon’s 90-second video posted on YouTube kicks off with a woman in a bathroom brushing her teeth. She asks Alexa what the weather is in Austin, Texas. As Alexa starts to answer, the digital assistant coughs and splutters, and then falls silent.

The ad jumps to a hectic newsroom, where the main story is that “Alexa lost her voice this morning.” Cut to a worried-looking Jeff Bezos, who just learned of the alarming incident, inside Amazon headquarters. Refusing to dismiss it as fake news, the CEO asks how Alexa, who’s not a real person, could possibly have an issue with her vocal cords.

Throughout the rest of the commercial, Alexa’s voice is replaced by celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay, hip-hop superstar Cardi B, Pitch Perfect actress Rebel Wilson, and legendary actor Anthony Hopkins. Ramsey berates someone for their poor grilled cheese sandwich cooking skills. Cardi B hilariously explains why traveling to Mars is futile, and makes sure her hit single Bodak Yellow is the only song that plays, even when someone asks her to play country music. When someone asks Alexa to set the mood, Wilson does so with a bit of uncomfortable dirty talk. The commercial ends with the perpetually creepy Hopkins ominously telling someone the person they asked Alexa to call is “tied up.” It may be best if Amazon just stuck with the original Alexa voice.

Amazon, together with all the other moneyed outfits gearing up for an appearance during the Super Bowl breaks, will be spending around $15 million for its 90-second slot on Sunday.

The newest Amazon product shown in the commercial is the company’s latest Echo Spot, which was released in the U.S. on December 17.  This commercial won’t be Alexa’s first appearance during America’s most-watched broadcast of the year. In 2016, eight months after Echo’s launch, Amazon rolled out on its very first Super Bowl ad, putting the smart speaker (oh, and Alec Baldwin) front and center.

At that time, the Echo was something of a niche product, but since then it has gone mainstream, with several variants hitting the market. Amazon recently announced the diminutive Echo Dot was the most popular product on its site this last holiday season, selling in the millions. After this celebrity fest of a Super Bowl commercial is seen by a hundred million people or so, the Echo Spot could be the next massive success from the Alexa family.

Update: Added the full 90-second commercial and video description.