Super Bowl LVI in Real Time

By HMH

This year for The Big Game AKA The Super Bowl, we thought we’d try something different. Instead of evaluating the commercials after they’ve all aired and giving them far more thought than the average person does while watching, two of our creative directors, Shawn and Steve, will be sharing their real-time reactions.

SHAWN: Welcome to the weekend conference call.

STEVE: East versus West. North versus South. Copywriter versus Art Director.

SHAWN: I don’t think it’s that dramatic.

STEVE: It will be. Especially since I’m a Rams fan and, by being so, will single-handedly cause them to lose. I have that power. So, expect occasional outbursts. As far as the commercials, let’s set some ground rules.  We’ll only cover the four quarters. No pregame or half time, unless we see one that’s really good. But as I say that, the Skechers ad that just played was not very good. Why would you spend that much money to do that?

SHAWN: What Skechers ad?

STEVE: Ouch. We’ll only comment on the interesting ones, good or bad. Or at least it will look that way in the transcript. Otherwise it will be a really long blog.

SHAWN: And no one reads.

STEVE: So true.  Also, no comments on commercials for movies or TV shows, which are usually half of the ads.

SHAWN: Sounds good. I know we’re not talking about pregame ads, but the McDonald’s one with the “Uhhs” was pretty good. A nice truth-based ad.

STEVE: Yep. The relatable moment.

SHAWN: Look, it’s The Rock!

STEVE: One day he’s going to be President The Rock. But a fitting end for the pregame. Get ready for the random and extensive use of celebrities.

FIRST QUARTER

SHAWN: Toyota started out with a nice story about the Olympic skiing brothers, until I learned it was a Toyota ad.

STEVE:  I thought it was a nice story, too. But what does it have to do with Toyota? Unless I missed something. It’s more like they spent a few million to buy ad time, then used a spot they made for the Winter Olympics.

STEVE:  Dolly Parton selling T-Mobile, Zendaya selling Squarespace seashells. Bring on the celebrities.

SHAWN: I’m surprised you know who Zendaya is.

STEVE: I watched all the Spider-Mans. Generally, I don’t go for talking babies, but the ETrade ad was nicely done. Made me laugh. Some nice writing in there. OBJ! Wow, what a catch. Sorry, I’m biased.

SHAWN: Agree on the ETrade spots. And about the talking babies. It was pretty okay. And it was a nice catch. This Expedia spot with Ewan MacGregor isn’t the greatest, but I did like the “no buying regrets” on experiences versus buying stuff. Interesting insight.

STEVE: That’s kind of what I thought. Nice message but not compelling. Even with young Obi Wan.

STEVE: Okay, this BMW Zeus spot, I like. Here the celebrities are actors, not playing themselves, but playing characters. That’s what actors do. Drives me nuts when a brand sticks in a celebrity as the character, my pet peeve. Love little Pegasus. This is my favorite so far. Except for the Electric Avenue. Unnecessary.

SHAWN: Yeah, I liked where it was going then Billy Ocean came in. It was a bit on the nose.

Little Pegasus was a nice touch.

SHAWN: That Polestar spot was interesting. I may be biased because it’s an EV.

STEVE: It’s a continuation of brand from what I’ve seen on the website. And no celebrity. I like how they aren’t afraid to take a poke at Elon. We hear so much about that from other clients in the space, but Polestar did it. Nice. I like avocados more than this commercial for avocados.

STEVE: Look, a bouncing QR code. I thought QR codes were dead.

SHAWN: Interesting Bitcoin ad.

STEVE: Did you scan it? I wasn’t interested enough to do it.

SHAWN: Yes. It took me a minute to scan.

STEVE: It’s a bold choice. I applaud that.

SHAWN: Very bold. I like it. And no celebrities. Hey, that was a great catch, too.

STEVE: It was, but it was the Bengals, so I hate it.  What did you think of that Doritos/Cheetos ad with the singing animals?

SHAWN: I really hated it.

STEVE: I wanted to see what you thought before I said anything. In case you loved it. Because I didn’t either. But I did like the Meta Quest 2 commercial. I didn’t know who it was for until the end. There was a story there. I like stories. I wanted to know more.

SHAWN: I loved how it started. Nice surprise of what the product was. Even more if those characters are part of a game or experience on that platform.

SECOND QUARTER

SHAWN: Oh Michelob… you’re better than that.

STEVE: A bunch of celebrities bowling. And Steve Buscemi saying, “Game time.” What does that even mean? The Super Bowl? We’re in the second quarter. Plus, the poor bowling etiquette. Boo.

SHAWN: No one cares about that but you. The electric Silverado ad was cool, but I’m a Sopranos fan. The next generation of truck for the next generation of Sopranos. I almost didn’t pay attention because I thought they were promoting a rerun.

STEVE: Not really a fan of it because they basically re-created the show opening, and I liked the show. But I didn’t hate it because I did like the show. That doesn’t really make sense now that I said it. I wonder how many people paid attention just because of the show? Maybe that was the evil plan. A successful ad isn’t always original creative.

SHAWN: Rocket Mortgage Barbie. Borrows some cues from the old Nissan ad. Not sure why Anna Kendrick needed to be in it.

STEVE: Celebrity. Could have worked without her. She was playing Anna Kendrick. Did I mention it’s a peeve?

SHAWN: A time or two. The He-Man at the end was a nice touch. And I’m not crapping on the Rocket ad…it was a different type of execution from the Nissan ad. And done pretty well.

STEVE: I didn’t mind it. It got better in the middle when it started addressing all the craziness of the current housing market. Sounds like we’re liking it the more we talk about it. Unlike that Gillette ad. Did they even try?

STEVE: There’s not a lot great so far. The Uber Eats Not Eats, I liked the general concept. But I felt the spot was so-so.

SHAWN: No, there’s not a lot great. But I did like the Larry David crypto ad. Don’t remember who it was for.

STEVE: FTX. I’m taking notes. Just like every viewer does at home. I liked that one, too. Larry David pulled it off and it was created just for him. Could someone else have done it? Maybe, but not like him.  I also liked the SalesForce ad with Matthew McConaughey. Until I found out it was a SalesForce ad. Was interested in where the message was taking me, I wanted to know what company has this grand vision for the future, even though that vision was murky. I don’t think a sales platform lives up to that.

THIRD QUARTER

SHAWN: That was a clear face mask.

STEVE: And now an interception. Rams implosion. Give me a commercial break.

SHAWN: I think this is going to be a pretty short blog.

STEVE: No kidding, unless the ads pick up. BMW was my winner of the first half. I think Google Pixel Real Tone is an interesting play, really defining a target. But the ad isn’t all that great.

SHAWN: The tech is cool, but at least one of the before pictures was a classic backlit shot. None of the Google Pixel shots were backlit.

STEVE: They’re not going to use good before pictures and most people take bad pictures. Do you think the rest of the world evaluates commercials like this? I look forward to seeing all the ad reviews and see which ones they call the best. Usually full of the celebs.

SHAWN: Like the Planet Fitness one with Lindsay Lohan while you were talking.

STEVE: And this Lays ad with Paul Rudd and Seth Rogan. They’re great together, and I like both of them. But as a commercial…

SHAWN: I think the Lays one is good. It’s just a shame companies feel they have to use known personalities to make a concept work.

STEVE: I liked the Pringles ad where the guy gets his hand stuck in can. At least it’s an idea. I guess he never owned a pair of scissors.

SHAWN: I like it. Using a truth in an entertaining way.

STEVE: You’ve got your hand stuck in a Pringles container?

SHAWN: A guy I know.

SHAWN: Kia would have been perfect if that eDog hit the concrete and broke into several pieces. But someone would have been offended.

STEVE: I liked it, too. It had a story, that word again. You wanted to know what was going to happen. And you know the creative team had it hitting the concrete. But someone along the way changed it. It would have never made it through a focus group.

STEVE: Is this the borrowed interest Super Bowl? Sopranos, and GM again with Austin Powers. The Cable Guy at half. All nicely done, but not original. And now T-Mobile with Scrubs.  

SHAWN: It seems to be a theme.

STEVE: This game is killing me.

FOURTH QUARTER

STEVE: Celebrity trifecta. The Amazon Alexa with Colin and Scarlett was nicely scripted and performed. A case where non-celebrities might not have had the same impact.

SHAWN: And Cutwater, seems like it borrows from the Apple Think Different campaign, but fun.

STEVE:  I was getting a Bud Real American Heroes vibe, but that could have been the voice over. But enough of that. I like this Irish Spring commercial. Seemed dark and took a happy turn

SHAWN: That’s probably the best Irish Spring commercial I’ve ever seen. Okay, I did like the violence in the Hellman’s commercial, but –

STEVE: Terry Tate, Office Linebacker.

SHAWN: Yeah.

SHAWN: Hey, two Pegasuses – Pegasi? – in one Super Bowl. Makes sense in this Greenlight spot. What did you think about it?

STEVE: I liked it. Good examples of careless overspending. Makes its point in a memorable way. And entertaining. That so often gets lost.

(Break for last two minutes of the game)

SHAWN: That’s got to make you happy. Good game.

STEVE: It was. I was fully expecting them to lose. It had me worried. And it was much better than the commercials this year.

SHAWN: Way better. Sadly.