We would be forced to turn in our advertising credentials if we didn’t give you our “expert” take on ads from Sunday night’s big game. However, as much as we love this business and digging into the merits and shortcomings of each commercial, we have chosen to give you our picks, not of the best or worst spots, but the commercials that simply made us stop gnawing on chicken wings for a moment to turn to the TV and then to each other and say, “what the heck was that?!”
That is to say, we’re talking about the ads that appeared to make no sense, or at least, only made sense upon later review. These aren’t necessarily bad ads, per se. They may take a minute to hit home or just simply be designed to shock or create chatter in social media. But, yeah, some of them are bad.
First, our methodology, or lack thereof. While industry pundits may watch Super Bowl commercials in a controlled, mostly quiet setting, we decided to watch them in their natural habitat — in rooms with six to 12 people making all kinds of noise. From toddlers dumping out their toys with glee again and again to teenagers playing ping-pong and having nerf battles to other adults with little interest in the game or the ads chatting away incessantly about spy balloons or the best spinach dip recipes.
Monday morning, we all jotted down our faves, least faves, and ones that made us go, “wha…?!”
What emerged was a “best of” list that saw many kudos for the GM/Netfix “Why not an EV?” spot with Will Farrell, the Bud Light “Hold” spot with Miles Teller and his wife, Keleigh Sperry, and the Pop Corners “Breaking Good” spot. Of course, Keith always loves the Jeep spot. There was a lot of bad to go around. However, the Hellman’s “Hamm and Brie” spot seemed to draw the most ire (keep reading).
What was really interesting, though, was the stuff that most of us found to be somewhat-to-completely bizarre. So let’s talk about those.
In this case, it’s strange but not in a good way. The overall message of mayo making leftovers better seemed more like an idea that someone wanted to be true. Didn’t matter, though. We missed that idea completely while we tried to figure out why marketers think that throwing Pete Davidson in your ad will somehow make your brand “edgy.”
This one popped up on quite a few industry top 10 lists. We can’t totally disagree here, due to the simple message cloaked in a quasi-deep quantum physical concept that comes off as funny. At least, that’s what we got out of it. But it did get a number of “that was strange” from the crowd.
This one was just spooky. People getting taken by giant rabbits was unsettling. Even after revealing that they were pitching folks down these “rabbit holes of entertainment” it was still creepy. The follow-up spot with the rabbit lurking in the garden made it worse. We got it. We just didn’t feel good about it.
This one is getting a ton of praise for its pure disruptive effect. And it worked, to an extent. But at least in our neck of the woods, the disruption just rolled into a Fox Nation ad. This made it seem like an ad for their programming and not Tubi, or that Tubi was promoting Fox Nation. The point is, what was the point?
This campaign launched weeks ago, but this particular execution made us stop and just watch this dude dance around. It was a “quiet” spot in an otherwise loud night, which was an odd contrast. Some of us liked it.
This spot also ranked high on some industry lists, mostly because of the Draft Kings promotion that led up to it. But what if you didn’t catch the promotion? Most of us missed this key element ahead of time and as a result, the spot had us scratching our heads. Why, after being locked out of the big game for years (AB-InBev opted out of their exclusive alcohol advertiser status this year) would you try to cram three brands into one ad? Ultimately, the success of this one will come down to the success of the promotion. But will that end up being a win for Draft Kings and not Molson-Coors? Time will tell.
What about you? Which Super Bowl ads had you wondering, in the words of Jerry Seinfeld, “what were these ad guys thinking?” Post your hot takes on Sunday night’s best and worst spots here…