It’s safe to say that 2022 was a banner year for creativity, especially for the Super Bowl. It was as if all kinds of pent-up energy needed to be released via the TV spots after nearly two years of suppression and depression. Overall, the messaging was jovial, positive, and lighthearted – not to mention much less serious and cause-driven than in 2021. This key shift was likely a response to a public that advised advertisers to move on from the darkness in the focus groups that they held.
It’s important to keep in mind that the Super Bowl provides advertisers with an incentive to create “show ads.” More than anything, the goal of games run throughout the Big Game is to deliver entertainment and generate talk value. This is why ads come with lots of glitz and high production values. Big budgets produce big spots. Oftentimes, they are really smart and clever – but not always.
This year, there was a seemingly unending parade of celebrities – more than I can recall in my 15 years of reviewing Super Bowl ads. Surprisingly, many of these famous faces were aging, not contemporary celebrities – likely speaking to the continued need to appeal to Gen Xers and Boomers. Generally, gratuitous use of celebrities does not always make for better ads, just more expensive ones. In the end, the more clever, more creative ideas always win, even when they’re extremely simple. But sometimes, the right star in the right script can really work.
Today’s marketers are getting the hang of pre-game publicity by releasing teasers. Here are the five most notable Super Bowl LVI spots, in my opinion.
Amazon Alexa’s “Mind Reader” spot with Scarlett Johansson and Colin Jost was my personal favorite… for several reasons (LOL). One: I’m a husband, and I found this ad hilariously relatable. Two: It has a very simple, clever, and funny premise that speaks to a universal (unspeakable) truth. Three: Impeccable casting! After all, the award-winning actress and “SNL” cast member are not only easy on the eyes, but they are married in real life. Four: Amazon has been running short clips of the spot in programming leading up to the game to further generate anticipation. Well done!
GM’s “Dr. Evil” ad with the Austin Powers cast (Mike Meyers, Seth Green, Rob Lowe, and Mindy Sterling) was very well done. I don’t usually prefer spots with that much “borrowed interest,” but they pulled it off incredibly well. The ad had a great script and was therefore super rewarding to watch. For me, at least, it really makes you wish they’d make another movie after all these years. I think this commercial will be buzzed about on Monday morning. I can’t imagine how much money it took to assemble the all-star cast!
Kia’s “Robo Dog” spot is one of the few celebrity-free ads that ran this year. It follows an adorable canine character that I’m sure will appeal to a lot of people. It stemmed from a simple idea but was likely challenging to produce. The heartwarming script set up the character’s story well, featured the car in a positive light, and paid off in a silly but lovable fashion that caters to the tastes of the Super Bowl audience. I think it really worked!
The Flamin’ Hot Cheetos & Doritos “Push It” commercial was both wildly entertaining and very well produced. Doritos knows that animals play well to the Super Bowl audience, and they really baked up something hot for them this year. The animated animals sing, dance, and basically freak out over the product while doing an acapella rendition of “Push It” by Salt-N-Pepa. Viewers, especially those in tune with ‘80s and ‘90s hip hop, will get a kick out of it. This is a Disney-esque production masterpiece! I’m happy to watch it over and over again. (But I probably won’t be buying those chips… Sorry.)
Squarespace’s “Sally’s Seashells” ad is clever, colorful, and nostalgic. It’s appealing on all levels with great use of celebrities (actress Zendaya and musician Andre 3000), a catchy, alliterative script, incredible art direction, and awesome footage. Maybe more importantly, I think the selling messaging is right on. Squarespace is a first-time advertiser in the Super Bowl, and they did a fantastic job. Right on!
Vroom’s “Why Leave the Couch?” ad was a fumble in my book. In short, I think it was hard to follow and overly produced. This is what happens when you have a huge budget but no real idea. Better luck next time, Vroom.
What were your favorite Super Bowl ads this year? Which didn’t spark your interest? Let us know!