Students Review Best and Worst Super Bowl 2023 Ads
Monday, February 13, 2023
The Kansas City Chiefs may have secured a Super Bowl victory, but the debate is on for which TV commercials won the night. Every year advertisers pull out the stops—from celebrity cameos to comedic bits—but that doesn't guarantee success.
Using their analysis skills, a group of graduate students in the Carlson School's Master of Marketing program reviewed the commercials of Super Bowl LVII and shared their thoughts on the ads that stole the show and others that missed the mark.
"With the Super Bowl ad price tag reaching up to $7 million per 30 seconds, many companies had to try their best to impress the audiences," said Alfred Chen, '23 MKTG. "A few ads featured a QR code for people to scan, and having only 30 seconds doesn’t seem right to put it on there because some people might not be able to scan before the ad is over."
"One theme from the Super Bowl ads was nostalgia," said Mariam Amirikian, '23 MKTG. "Many of the ads were lighthearted, funny, and made cultural references from the 1970s, '80s, and '90s. We saw tennis champion Serena Williams featured in the Michelob Ultra ad that drew on the classic comedy Caddyshack. Alicia Silverstone reprised her role from the film Clueless in an ad for Rakuten. Disney celebrated 100 years of magic with a montage of some of Disney’s greatest hits."
"The car industry utilized celebrities, cheerful music, and likable animals (Jeep), to promote their electric vehicles," said Zixuan Zheng, '23 MKTG. "There have also been some collaborations between the brands and shows and movies to promote their products. For example, Heineken collaborated with Paul Rudd as Ant-Man, and GM and Netflix collaborated with Will Ferrell."
"With spots missing this year from long-time nostalgia staples Budweiser and Coca-Cola, new companies emerged on the ad front for the Super Bowl this year," said John Brickweg, '23 MKTG. "The ones that did try to capture some nostalgia and heartwarming feelings, just missed the mark, such as the Amazon ad. Combine this with the overall speed, data overload, and entertainment overload, it will be interesting to see how much of the information consumers grasped and whether or not companies with Super Bowl ads achieved their goals."
Best Super Bowl Commercials
Netflix and GM
"With General Motors and Netflix promoting EVs and featuring Will Ferrell, it got the stopping power and humor to attract people," said Chen. "They also used shows that were popular on Netflix, such as Squid Game, Army of the Dead, and Stranger Things. This will help the ad resonate more with audiences that have seen the shows before on Netflix."
"This GM and Netflix ad proved to be a great partnership due to the humor provided by Will Ferrell and the Netflix shows while communicating to consumers that GM now has EVs and that Netflix is supporting a greener future," said Brickweg.
"This commercial successfully transfers audiences’ likeness towards those Netflix shows into their products, therefore strengthening the link between EVs and GMC," said Zheng.
"[Google Pixel ad] started with emotional background music and nostalgic memories before abruptly changing to 'We Run This' by Missy Elliot as the commercial communicates that the Pixel can fix little mistakes, big mistakes, and huge mistakes on our photos," said Amirikian. "Starting out with a more serious tone definitely captures the audience’s attention and sets this ad apart from the rest. With a clear explanation of their value proposition and product benefits all while keeping us entertained to the last second of the ad, this ad proved to be attention-grabbing and humorous (Amy Schumer: 'Wait I can erase my exes?') with a memorable, well-crafted brand message that engages the viewer and creates a positive connection with the brand."
"This one resonates the most with me because I just finished a digital marketing class last semester, and we were talking about Squarespace," said Chen. "Also, the phrase, 'A website that creates a website,' was very clever because when we are using the website, we don’t remember that we are actually using a website to create one. So, showing an ad like this is funny, and you would have that 'oh, this is true' moment."
"Another hit was Squarespace and Adam Driver with a clear and simple message: a website that makes websites," said Amirikian. "Driver plays multiple versions of himself, completely baffled by the idea that Squarespace could 'create itself' and spirals down into a rabbit hole as he marvels at this new concept and triggers a 'singularity event.' This evokes some nostalgia as the commercial reminded me of The Matrix. The product benefit is clear and the production value of the ad including the visuals, music, and special effects successfully played a role in grabbing the viewer’s attention and holding it until the end."
Worst Super Bowl Commercials
"This ad did not do a great job of communicating the value of why consumers should shop Temu," said Brickweg. "The main character bought multiple things for under ten dollars, but the items were random and did not convey the Super Bowl-level of ad. There were no celebrities, no humor, and no clear incentives in the ad. For the ad to then be played multiple times seemed out of touch for the Super Bowl. When this ad played, it was a chance to refill on snacks, go to the restroom, or continue the conversation with the person next to you."
"They were repeated too many times, and it starts to give the vibe that I was watching YouTube back in the days when the same ad repeatedly bombarded you," said Chen. "I felt that the Super Bowl ads should not use frequency as the primary tactic. Super Bowl ads should be unique and catchy to audiences. So, this ad was not unique, and I used this time to reply to texts on the phone or really just for a quick bathroom break."
"[Temu] had repeat ads shown throughout the night, which seemed like they were trying to have not only a big reach but also increase their frequency," said Amirikian. "Well, sorry to say but you can’t have both. Experiencing these repeat ads reminds us of having repeated ads in a streaming service, leaving us irritable and wanting to skip ahead."
"Amazon’s Super Bowl ad tried to highlight the cultural shift that America is making to move beyond the pandemic and get back to a sense of normalcy," said Brickweg. "They showed this through a dog enjoying all the quality time spent with its quarantined family, and then the dog struggling and destroying the house when its family leaves because the lockdown is over. This ad had a sense of being too forced and seemed as if Amazon was trying too hard to deliver a commercial that utilized a cute, loveable dog and a time that's relatable to many. While history shows that an ad does not necessarily have to have anything to do with a company’s product or service, this ad seemed to miss the punchline for why consumers should use Amazon."
"The Amazon ad just seemed bizarre," said Amirikian. "While the purpose of the delivery was to retell a 'relatable lockdown story,' it took too long to get to the happy ending that felt cut short when the new dog was introduced in hopes of keeping the other one happy at home. Aren’t we tired of hearing pandemic stories?"
"T-Mobile utilized Bradley Cooper and his mom starring in their new commercial for the 2023 Super Bowl promoting their 5G services," said Zheng. "Even though the bright pink color palette creates strong visuals and catches the audience's attention, it does not resonate with the main message that T-Mobile tried to convey."