Another Super Bowl is in the books. Congrats to Patrick Mahomes, Taylor Swift, Usher’s bare chest and everyone in St. Louis who used to be Rams fans yet then switched allegiance to the Chiefs once Stan Kroenke rode his Rams out of town (by the way—my last name? Koeneke, no relation. Don’t lump me in with that guy).
But The Big Game™ is also a big deal for those of us in the advertising industry. And as a creative, I’m contractually obligated to share my opinions on the ads we got this year, just as Post Malone was contractually obligated to drink that Bud Light last night. Get that bag, Posty!
So without further ado, here are my winners and losers from the ads of Super Bowl LVIII.
WINNER: All of Us
For not having to endure any more garbage cryptocurrency ads. Sorry crypto bros, but we’re thankfully back to hocking real products again, and I couldn’t be happier.
LOSER: Celebrity Stunt Casting
I get it. Why take a big swing when you can just throw the two guys from Suits in for a cameo and call it a day? We saw a lot of very safe ads this year, and while many celebrity appearances made me smile (Aubrey Plaza for Mountain Dew, Christopher Walken for BMW, everyone for Paramount+), very few had much in the way of substance or a real reason for being there. I can’t think of any specific celebrity spots that were terrible, I just think we can do a little better.
WINNER: Skechers – Slip-Ins
This is what I’m talking about. This is a great use of celebrity. Playing really nicely on the Mandela Effect of Skechers being misspelled, we bring in Mr. T to provide a laugh, say his catchphrase and, most importantly, show off the actual product you’re trying to sell. I’m sure our #1 Mr. T fan—Elasticity partner Aaron Perlut—was very pleased.
LOSER: Microsoft – Copilot
Gag me. Look, if you want to be creative, you don’t need an AI trained on a bunch of stolen content to do it for you. That’s…the opposite of being creative. There are legitimate uses for machine learning assistants, but generating shitty concepts for your light-up auto mechanic sign is not one of them. Hard pass.
WINNER: Kawasaki – Ridge
The best “dudes rock” spot of the bunch. There is a hint of celebrity stunt casting with Stone Cold Steve Austin, but he’s 1) a very on-brand celebrity for Kawasaki and 2) a single throwaway joke in a much larger ad. The premise is instantly understood, to the point where the ad just lets it breathe by showing off all the things you can do with a Ridge before hitting you with the line you know is coming. Sometimes, the obvious play is the best play, and Kawasaki executed it to perfection.
I’m of two minds here. On one hand, you definitely remember the Temu ad. They played it about a billion times during the game, and it features an earworm jingle that will live in the annals next to Baby Shark. So, kudos on that – brand recognition achieved. But the rest of the ad is cheap and bad. Some real mobile game drivel vibes from the visuals, not to mention Temu is just kind of a crap service. Shopping “like a billionaire” is definitely not how I’d describe the Temu experience, so the concept rings hollow.
WINNER: Dove – Body Confident Sport Program
I thought the tonal whiplash totally worked. Going from the fun and lighthearted montage of youth girls getting bumped and bruised playing sports to a more sobering message about body image told a complete story and made an impact that other ads, like Snapchat’s “less likes, more love,” tried and failed to do nearly as well. Plus, no celebrities! See? It’s possible!
LOSER: VW – ID. Buzz
This is a really well-made spot. It’s total bait for advertising sickos like me who think the Lemon series are still some of the best ads ever made, plus it makes fun references to their past Super Bowl efforts with the Darth Vader kid. Just a nice feel-good ad that makes you think about the company’s whole history where they’ve never done anything wrong ever. I wonder why they started the ad in 1949 and not just a handful of years before that. Hmm…did anything significant happen around that time?
Again, in a vacuum, it’s a great spot. But we’re not in a vacuum, and if you’re going to mine your own history for nostalgia, make sure you don’t have any Nazi-shaped skeletons in your closet because you’re making that fair game for the rest of us to bring up and think about.
I CAN’T DECIDE: Oreo – Twist on it
The Kardashian cameo is incredibly forced and two Greek mythology references in your montage of four use cases is lazy, but I really love the concept behind this Oreo spot. Twisting an Oreo is an iconic ritual (even if it’s one I think ruins the cookie), but evolving that ritual into a 50-50 odds game is so smart. It makes me want to have a bag of Oreos on hand at all times just for this purpose. Oreo should’ve sponsored the Super Bowl coin toss and had them twist a cookie instead. Oreo can and should ride this idea out the whole year, if not longer. They can make so many great ads with this concept, it’s just a shame their first effort fell short.
Of course, if you don’t like my takes, I’m not the only one talking about it. One of our lame partners here at Elasticity—the aforementioned Aaron Perlut—also hopped on Fox-2 this morning to talk ads (below).