Review: Super Bowl LVI Commercials

On Sunday the L.A. Rams walked away with a victory in Super Bowl LVI, but who won in the advertising arena? We all have our opinions. Some based on creativity, humor, or ROI.

With Bill Shea, of The Athletic, reporting that NBC charged $6.5 million for a 30 second spot I wanted to take a look at some of my favorites through a strategic lens, specifically Mark Pollard’s Four Points Framework.

With the costs of ads rising nearly one million dollars over 2021, were brands smart and strategic with there spend?

Real Tone and Google Pixel 6

Google appeared to be one of the only brands to remember that February was Black History Month. The ad begins by stating the problem, “Historically, camera technology hasn’t accurately represented darker skin tones,” and they begin to show a series of portraits by Joshua Kissi set to Lizzo’s “If You Love Me, You Love All Of Me.”

While the Pixel 6 and Real Tone was revealed back in October, the timing still felt right to address bias in our products and technologies. For me, it was the best commercial of the evening.

Problem: Camera technology hasn’t accurately represented dark skin.

Insight: Photos should capture our moments and memories, not our bias.

Strategy: Show that the Google Pixel 6 will always capture your memories, regardless of skin tone.

Expedia and Stuff

Expedia was one of many brands to use a celebrity in their spot, but I felt it was perfectly cast with Ewan McGregor.

With a hopeful and philosophic tone, Expedia left us with a timely reminder to get out there and explore the world.

Problem: Every year the Super Bowl creates memories while surrounding us with mass consumerism that is quickly forgotten.

Insight: We are emerging from a global pandemic with renewed focus on what matters most.

Strategy: In a sea of sales messaging, have Expedia remind us what matters most in life.

Coinbase and Less Talk, More Bitcoin

According to Pew Research, as of November 2021, only 16% of Americans say they have ever invested in, traded or used cryptocurrency.

The world of the blockchain, crypto, NFTs, and Web3 is confusing to say the least, and most Americans don’t understand the benefits of cryptocurrency let alone how to buy it.

The spot stood out for it’s simple execution, a gentle reminder of the bouncing DVD screensavers of yesteryear.

However, their execution probably represents one of the only ads that had the ability to directly measure it’s success as scanning the bouncing QR code redirected viewers to a web page inviting you to receive $15 in free Bitcoin for signing up along with a chance to win $3 million in prizes.

It was reminiscent of Reddit’s 2021 Super Bowl ad that broke through the clutter. And while I doubt it’ll encourage other markers to include a QR code in their television spots, I like the subtle message it sent – if you’re savvy enough to know how to use your phone to scan a QR code, you should be able to invest in crypto.

While FTX leaned into Larry David’s humor to force your consideration, Coinbase proved that you had everything you needed to make the jump into an ill-defined investment space.

Problem: Most Americans do not understand cryptocurrency or how to get involved in the market.

Insight: If you’re savvy enough to scan a QR code you can make a seamless transaction to own your first Bitcoin.

Strategy: IYKYK. If not, Coinbase will make it dead simple to find out.

Amazon Alexa is a Mind Reader

I’ve had countless conversations where people swear that their devices are actively listening in or reading their minds as they are served up ads moments after having a conversation about a product or service.

I mean, I hope that’s not the case. The marketer in me knows the restrictions in place for capturing conversation with digital devices. Yet, I thought it was a fun way for Amazon to joke about your fears, or confirm their nefarious ways.

While the spot also relies on celebrities Scarlett Johansson and Colin Jost, it also suggests we leave a trail of information that informs the ads we are targeted with.

Problem: Consumers think their devices know too much about their wants and desires.

Insight: Our devices are only useful if they responsbily use the information we give them.

Strategy: Exaggerate what would happen if Alexa actually did listen to everything you said, or could read your mind.

Eminem & Nike

Nike didn’t exactly air a commercial, but when Eminem reached the stage for the Super Bowl halftime show, he was rocking a pair of these Air Jordan 3’s with a custom name tag on the heel.

Twitter and other social channels blew up with people immediately checking the Nike SNKRS app in hopes of grabbing a pair. There has been no announcement of them available through retail, but one can hope.

Honorable Mentions

Chevy: The shot-for-shot remake of the Sopranos title sequence definitely tugged on the heart strings, but it was the embrace between characters Meadow and AJ that almost felt like a real moment on the show’s timeline. But, I’m still not buying a Chevy.

Michelob Ultra: I liked the “Big Lebowski” vibe and celebrity cameos, but what felt like a fun spot quickly fell down with it’s tag line “it’s only worth it if you enjoy it.” Unless I’m 16, and raiding my parents liquor I’m not sure I ever drank something I didn’t enjoy.

Cutwater Spirits: On a day full of gluttony and laziness the spot seemed to hit home with its take on Apple’s “The Crazy Ones.” Was it a tribute with these folks working “smarter” and not harder? Was it letting you know Cutwater is a safe, lazy choice next time you’re at the supermarket? I don’t know for sure, but I did like some of the ingenuity throughout the spot.

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