Cetaphil’s Super Bowl Ad Nodding to Taylor Swift Draws Cheers and Criticism

When an advertisement for Cetaphil lotion was released online days before the Super Bowl, it drew rave reviews for a narrative that evoked a familiar story for parents, football fans and followers of Taylor Swift.

In the commercial, a father unsuccessfully tries to interest his teenage daughter, who’s distracted by something on her phone, in a football game. She goes to her bedroom to complete her skin-care routine — using Cetaphil on her face. She then walks downstairs to see her father watching a football game while wearing a white jersey bearing the No. 89. The announcer can be heard saying, “Well folks, there she is, the most famous fan at the game,” drawing a smile from the daughter.

The father, sensing an opportunity, later walks into her room with a red No. 13 jersey for her and jokingly applies cream to his face before imploring her to come and watch the game. She goes downstairs, lays her phone on the coffee table and curls up next to her father. The ad ends with them wearing their jerseys on the couch and laughing. An on-screen message reads, “This season, dads and daughters found a new way to connect.”

Though it does not directly mention Taylor Swift, the ad is a nod to how the music superstar’s relationship with the Kansas City tight end Travis Kelce was said to have gotten more fathers and daughters watching N.F.L. games together this season. The No. 13 and No. 89 jerseys were implicit references to Ms. Swift’s “lucky number,” 13, and her (and Mr. Kelce’s) birth year, 1989. And the father in the ad wore friendship bracelets, as do many of Ms. Swift’s fans.

Users on social media reacted positively to the ad, drawing connections to their own lives. One TikTok user who posted the ad said it “has me in tears.” On X, fan accounts for Ms. Swift lauded the commercial, and one user said, “as the daughter of a football coach and a die-hard Swiftie, I adore this.”

But on Friday night, a woman who has a popular TikTok account, Sharon Mbabazi, said the company had stolen the idea for the ad from her. On her social media accounts, she shared a TikTok post from September in which she is doing her makeup when her stepfather walks in and tells her about Mr. Kelce’s surge in Instagram followers, jersey sales and popularity since his relationship with Ms. Swift became public.


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