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Touchdown or Fumble? Reviewing Super Bowl LVI Commercials

Did this year’s Super Bowl commercials leave you saying, “oh, yes” like Lizzo or, “uhhhh” like Kanye? It was a mix of both, if we’re being honest. So, to find out which ads scored a touchdown and which fumbled, we’ll be covering the best and worst commercials from Super Bowl LVI.

Super Bowl LVI Commercial Trends

Like Big Game ads of years past, many marketers leaned on star-studded celebrity lineups and blockbuster budgets to engage viewers this year. Whether EV, software, or food service, brands emphasized exuberance and nods to nostalgic pop culture references in the hopes of gaining more views, leads, and revenue. However, million-dollar budgets, star power, and nostalgia were not the only key players contributing to Super Bowl marketing success.

Best Super Bowl LVI Ads

According to a study by HubSpot, these spots resonated best with viewers.

“The Joneses” by Toyota for consumers’ favorite auto company Commercial, “Goodbye Cable” by Verizon for consumers’ favorite tech, telecom, or software brand commercial, and “A Clydesdale’s Journey” by Budweiser for consumers’ favorite food or meal service commercial. Each incorporates one or more marketing tactics, such as humor and strong storylines, connecting with viewers. So, let’s dive deeper into how these factors influenced their high rankings.

Humor is a powerful tool for connecting with audiences as viewers, as it develops positive feelings and association with the brand generating laughter. Witty banter also promotes brand recall and expands reach by leaving a more significant impression. Additionally, people are more likely to share something that causes them to laugh with their network of friends and family. Such is the case with Toyota’s playful car race between celebrities with similar last names, Jones and Jonas, accompanied by upbeat music from singer Tom Jones (who uncoincidentally shares the same last name). Similarly, Verizon played into the comedic appeal by enlisting actor Jim Carrey to reprise his role as the rambunctious “cable guy” from the film with the same namesake, The Cable Guy.   

In an ever-competitive marketing landscape, capturing viewers’ attention is often accomplished through a compelling narrative. Strong storytelling helps brands keep audiences engaged for longer, deliver a more memorable impression, and strengthen brand loyalty.

For example, Budweiser takes a sentimental tone telling the story of an injured horse overcoming adversity as a metaphor for our resiliency as a country to rise above the difficulties brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. All of these ads incorporate a captivating narrative and easily relatable human emotions or experiences, helping to propel positive reviews.

The Power of Purpose-Driven Ads

Most brands strayed away from social impact concepts and instead focused on returning to normalcy. This year, the few purpose-driven exceptions included Hellman’s commitment to combating food waste and Google’s mission to provide more accurate portrayals of dark skin tones through the Pixel 6 smartphone’s Real Tone technology. Incorporating a larger brand purpose resonated better with audiences than flashy, frivolous ads alone.

Other Buzzworthy Super Bowl Ads

In referencing other studies, iSpot’s Ace Metrix revealed that the most likable Super Bowl commercials, excluding promos for networks, shows, and streaming services, in descending order are as follows: Frito-Lay’s “Push It,” Nissan’s “Thrill Driver,” BMW’s “Zeus and Hera,” Lay’s “Stay Golden,” Michelob Ultra’s “Welcome to Superior Bowl,” Pringles’ “Stuck In,” NFL’s “Bring Down the House,” and Kia’s “Robo Dog.” 

A Super Bowl Outlier

With an abundance of ads and mixed reactions across the board, there’s yet to be a strong frontrunner among the Super Bowl commercials this year. However, one ad gaining abounding attention, both positive and negative, and defying any kind of conventional marketing was by the cryptocurrency platform Coinbase. Rather than create a lavish production, Coinbase opted for a minimalist approach by only displaying a QR code bouncing around television screens, similar to old-fashioned screensavers, for 60 seconds at the cost of nearly $14 million as detailed by The Information.

Upon being scanned, Coinbase redirected viewers to a landing page promoting $15 in free Bitcoin after signing up and the chance to win $3 million in prizes. Although lo-fi and controversial, Coinbase accumulated an estimated 20 million hits within one minute of airing, according to Bitcoin Magazine. With a $2 billion increase to its market cap since airing, Coinbase’s unconventional marketing strategy suggests high efficacy.

Worst Super Bowl LVI Ads

In addition to the split opinions from Coinbase’s alternative ad, a handful of other Super Bowl commercials proved divisive as well. The worst commercials, as reported by The Washington Post were: T-Mobile’s “Miley Cyrus Sings a Song for 5G Phones,” FTX’s “Don’t Miss Out,” UberEats’ “Uber Don’t Eats,” and Avocados from Mexico’s “#AlwaysGood.”

Elsewhere, Rolling Stone adds to the list of commercial fumbles with “Land of Loud Flavors” by Bud Light Seltzer Hard Soda and “The Grande Escape” by Taco Bell. These commercials received scrutiny partially because of misused or wasted celebrity cameos or lack of innovation.

Overdrive’s Voted Best and Worst Commercials from Super Bowl LVI

At Overdrive, we rated our favorite and least favorite Super Bowl commercials too. Siding with more controversial ads, we rated Coinbase’s QR code and FTX’s “Don’t Miss Out” as our favorite Super Bowl ads.

As for our least favorites, we ranked Meta’s “Old Friends, New Fun” and UberEats’ “Uber Don’t Eats” as the worst Super Bowl commercials.

Ready to take your marketing to the next level by leveraging Overdrive’s best practices for encouraging desired behavior? Contact us today to see how we can help you move the needle.

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