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  • Writer's pictureSuzanne Anslow Gunther

Super Bowl 56 Ads (Why must we use roman numerals?)

Where to begin with this year’s Super Bowl ads? I think I will start with the fact there was no cream cheese available at the grocery store on Sunday. No cream cheese means no buffalo chicken dip and that is never a good start to a Super Bowl Sunday. But perhaps it was a sign of things to come later in the day. As I struggled to find any standout ads (at least in the first half of the game).

Ok, there were some good ads. The game started with a very heartfelt ad about a boy who suffers from macular degeneration and he, with the help of his brother, spent their lives training to be future Olympians. The spot takes us through their life-long journey with beautiful and dramatic cinematography. Of course, they achieved their dreams through all the challenges they faced and the effort they put in, and yes it gave me a lump in my throat. If it were an ad for the Paralympics I would have said kudos. But nope. For the second year in a row, Toyota has to stick their logo on the ad at the end, taking all the credit for sponsoring the Paralympics having nothing to do with all the hard work and dedication the two brothers displayed. Bummer.

While Toyota seemed to be taking credit for the success of the Paralympics, Google can take credit for the improved Pixel 6 camera for dark skin tones. Google is applying smart technology to dramatically improve a product. The ad features recording artist, Lizzo saying, "Everyone deserves to be seen as they truly are." Couldn’t agree more.

We did see some interesting comeback brand ads. E-trade brought back the babies. They took them out of the nursery and out of retirement to help solve all of our investment issues. Loved the improved quality of the animation but still feel like E-Trade is a one-trick pony. Avocados from Mexico came back strong with a very funny ad that featured a game at the colosseum with Julius Caesar and Barbarians. I had to “shush” the room to hear the spot, but if you listened closely it was quite clever. Doritos put in the effort with full musical production featuring singing animals and throwback music. And Pringles made us laugh with an ad that showed a guy going through life with his hand stuck in a Pringles can. As my son said, why are they saying “our packaging sucks” so let's make fun of it. My reply is, it’s what you do with Super Bowl ads.

If you follow my blog you know how I feel about celebrities in ads. If you are using them as characters playing a role, then you stand a chance of creating a good commercial. If you use only their persona and celebrity status you will fail. T-Mobile failed with Dolly, Miley and the rest. Turkish Airlines thinks having Morgan Freeman in their ad will drive demand to fly Turkish Airlines? Seriously, I would like to know if the airline dramatically increased bookings after one spot in the Super Bowl?? (Please let me know.)

Car commercials were prominent as usual and almost every one of the spots promoted electric vehicles (the future is here people). Keeping up with the Joneses Toyota spot gets a nod for cleverness and was the only car spot that was not promoting an EV. But my favorite car commercial goes to the Chevy Silverado throwback Sopranos ad with Meadow Soprano driving through all the NJ landmarks like her dad, Tony Soprano did in the opening show credits. Loved it.

UberEats got a mixed reaction from our group. I thought it was stupid but give credit that they are trying to introduce delivery of non-food items. Aside: do we really need another delivery service for any items??

In the beer and beverage category, honorable mention goes to Cutwater Spirits' “Lazy People” ad. Came on late in the game but for a newcomer to Super Bowl advertising, it was memorable. I have to give top beer and beverage honors to the Michelob Ultra spot with Peyton Manning, Jimmy Butler, Steve Buschemi, and Serena Williams. Great music, little dialogue, surprise ending, well done!

We saw some strong movie trailers this year. Jurassic Park, BelAir, and The Rings of Power all look awesome.

As in years past a new category was introduced and marketed during this year’s Super Bowl game. This year it was cryptocurrency. We saw some very unique, futuristic ads from, Coinbase, Binance, and one from FTX that stood out as one of the top ads of the night. The ad features Larry David urging us all to “Not Miss Out” on crypto. While the vast majority of us still have no idea what cryptocurrency is and how it all works, we appreciate the effort to inform and especially entertain us. And if you didn’t know to pull out your phone for the Coinbase QR code, you will probably never buy into the concept of crypto.

Overall honorable mention goes to the Irish Spring creepy, dystopian, ad banishing stinky smell. Also came on late in the night but it stood out enough to make me go watch it again.

My favorite spot of the night goes to Rocket Mortgage (for the second year in a row). They remain clever, creative and very interesting. The ad ties their product perfectly to the current housing situation and bidding wars so many Americans’ are experiencing. And the introduction of new Barbie dolls including Better Offer Betty and Home Flipper Skipper was the icing on the cake. There was no need to have a celebrity in the spot but I won’t take points away.

Another year in the books. I miss football already.

Suzanne Gunther

Principal Consultant


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