Is Savannah Guthrie daydreaming, or are the TODAY co-anchors taking to the Super Bowl stage to star in a public service announcement? The answer is yes — to both.
TODAY’S first ever Super Bowl PSA, aiming to empower girls as part of a national She Can STEM campaign, airs Sunday during the pregame. This 30-second spot features a daydreaming Savannah taking the TODAY gang back to a ’70s-style middle school classroom where girls have their sights on careers in math and science jobs.
“Yes, we are flashing back to the ’70s, but in this world, girls can aspire to careers in math and science,” said Hoda Kotb during a behind-the-scenes clip that aired on TODAY Friday. “We’re showing in this ad, Wait a second, look how far we’ve come.”
To make this happen, TODAY collaborated with ad agency Deloitte Digital, the Ad Council, IF/THEN and director J.J. Adler — who helmed famous ads like “Gainiac,” featuring Craig Robinson, and “Happy Dance,” with Kristen Bell.
The Ad Council is famous for longstanding campaigns, such as “Smokey the Bear,” and previously joined forces with Savannah for a Feeding America campaign in 2013 and Al for a disaster preparedness PSA that same year.
In the new PSA, the TODAY co-hosts totally transformed into their ’70s selves — braces, pigtails and all.
“The concern is always you don’t know how willing people are going to be to push it,” Lora Faris, associate creative director at Deloitte Studios, told TODAY. “And they seem like a really goofy, fun group.”
Hoda and Savannah flaunt ribbon-tied double ponytails, and Carson revisits a haunting memory of a face full of braces. Al even exchanged his colorful glasses for a retro pair.
“If she can see it, she can be it, right?” IF/THEN ambassador & game developer Dr. Mitu Khandaker said on set of the shoot. “Just exposing girls to the possibility of pursuing STEM careers … that’s one of the ways that we’re really hoping to make a change.”
Although statistics for women in STEM (an acronym for science, technology, engineering and math) have improved greatly since the ’70s, the PSA is still hoping to counteract a sizable shortage.
Today, women make up nearly half of the U.S. workforce but only 27% of STEM workers, according to the United States Census Bureau.
Revisiting seventh grade may have brought back those awkward days for the TODAY gang, but it was all worth it — “as long as girls and their grownups get the message,” said Hoda.