Whether you’re a big fan of football or not, there’s no denying that arguably one of the best parts of the Super Bowl is the over-the-top commercials.
Brands are known to shell out millions each year to get one of the coveted spots during the game, from advertising spending to fostering top-tier talent to star in the ads. Often these efforts paid off, as Super Bowl commercial fans were able to see Miley Cyrus, Scarlett Johansson, Paul Rudd and other celebrities appear during breaks.
Super Bowl commercials are known to be action-packed and emotional, with brands either going for the heartstring-tugging angle, a comedic lens or something inspiring and impactful.
This year was no exception, with Super Bowl LVI giving fans a dose of quality football between new champions the Los Angeles Rams and the Cincinnati Bengals, a star-studded halftime show featuring Eminem, Dr. Dre, Snoop Dogg, Mary J. Blige, 50 Cent and Kendrick Lamar and of course, commercials scattered throughout that are sure to have people talking for days to come.
Here, we break down our vote for our three favorite Super Bowl commercials, what we thought was the most unique ad and one ad that just took a shot and missed.
Three big winners
General Motors, EV-il
Fans of the Austin Powers movies were delighted to see the infamous villain Dr. Evil back on their screens. The advertisement positioned climate change as the number one threat to the world, with Dr. Evil’s minions telling him that he must first save the world before he can take it over. The advertisement was for GM’s Ultium Platform, which will help power electronic vehicles across the brand’s portfolio of products. The brand is making a push to reduce its carbon footprint, gearing towards an eventual all-electric product line and future. The Super Bowl ad worked well because it found a way to use comedy to talk about serious issues while throwing in a familiar face from the hit 90s movie to appeal to millennials.
Toyota, Start Your Impossible
This 60-second ad was perhaps the most inspiring of all commercials shown during the Super Bowl. The commercial shows the journey of Canadian Paralympians Robin and Brian McKeever, from when they were children to where they are now. Brian lost his eyesight due to Stargardt macular degeneration at age 19, yet the two continued to train and excel in the sport of cross country skiing together, going on to win over 10 Paralympic gold medals. The end of the Super Bowl ad states this before showing the words ‘Start Your Impossible’ on the screen. It’s chill-inducing, uplifting and just the right amount of storytelling to make its point while also showing proper representation for the blind community.
Kia, Robo Dog
Animal ads are always a way to get tears flowing, and Kia’s interesting take on this strategy was a strong success. The clip shows a robotic dog inside a store who sees real dogs being given love and becomes saddened. He then sees an electronic vehicle pulling away and begins to chase after the driver, in hopes that perhaps the driver could also love him, given his fondness for electronics. When the dog jumps to the man, his battery dies, but when he wakes up, he’s being charged by the man with the EV who looks at him adoringly. The advertisement found a way to make the push towards EVs for major car companies in an emotional and cute way without being too over the top. The addition of “Total Eclipse of the Heart” playing throughout stops the commercial from taking Super Bowl Sunday too seriously.
The most unique take
Coinbase, QR Code
Coinbase, a popular cryptocurrency exchange platform, spent 60 seconds of its allotted ad time (which reportedly cost $13 million) to feature a QR code that moved around viewer’s screens from corner to corner while changing color. When the QR code was scanned, it brought viewers to a landing page that said “Get $15 in free Bitcoin for signing up*. Plus, a chance to win $3 million prizes!” The Super Bowl ad was definitely the first of its kind, but genius in the way that allowed for the company to track its progress — Coinable can look directly at data to see how many people scanned it and how many signed up for the service as a result. Coinbase’s website reportedly crashed temporarily as a result of the traffic influx.
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The most poorly timed
Avocados from Mexico, Always Good
Talk about unfortunate timing. Avocados from Mexico put out a 30-second Super Bowl commercial during the big game that made a play on tailgating by setting up what would be a typical football tailgate in the land of Ancient Rome. The tailgaters are lamented that the pre-party isn’t fun, making a not-so-subtle reference to the Bills Mafia by showing tailgaters being thrown through tables. One tailgater then begins making guacamole with the avocados and offers them to the group and the entire vibe changes. This is all in good fun, sure, but it just so happened that the U.S. government suspended the importation of avocados from Mexico the night before the Super Bowl. A U.S. avocado plant safety inspector reportedly received a threatening cell phone message, though the contents of the message and threat were not fully revealed.
Related: 4 Business Lessons From Super Bowl Champ and Angel Investor Jerod Mayo