Brand + Advertising
2022 Super Bowl Ad Review
Super Bowl LVI has come and gone, but the commercials are still lingering in our minds. Some for better, others for worse, but all to entertain and move people toward some sort of purchase. How they did it—or attempted to, anyway—is what fascinates us most. And each year, we meet the day after the big game to talk about what trends we saw, what themes stood out and most importantly: what did or didn’t work.
Nostalgia for the ’90s
It’s no secret that this year’s game had a lot of love for the ’90s. With a halftime show filled with hip hop and rap megastars, it felt like a gift to the Millennials and Gen Xers watching from all around the world. Advertisers didn’t skip a beat, with many brands diving headfirst into the nostalgia pool. From film references including “Austin Powers” and “The Cable Guy” to the toys of our mid-’90s childhoods, the trappings of the past were used to tug at the heartstrings.
Stars on Display
Celebrities are always a staple of Super Bowl commercials, but this year seemed to have an overwhelming number of stars. Some spots went bigger than others, collecting a nearly full cast of celebrities. Michelob Ultra featured athletes Serena Williams and Peyton Manning; Lays bagged Paul Rudd and Seth Rogen; Uber Eats cast an ensemble with Jennifer Coolidge, Trevor Noah and Gwyneth Paltrow—the list goes on. Celebrities tend to grab our attention, so it’s no secret why so many appear each year.
The Way of the Future?
Although plenty of commercials spent time looking back, a new wave of brands staked their claim for the future. Making their Super Bowl debut, cryptocurrency and metaverse brands introduced themselves on the world’s stage, aiming to ease the concerns of the uninitiated—with mixed results. Like it or not, these brands made their presence known and, in the case of Coinbase, got people to take immediate action.
So which ads were the best and which ones fumbled along the way? The answer isn’t so simple.
Ad #1: Michelob Ultra (Welcome to the Superior Bowl)
First up in the star-studded category comes from none other than Michelob Ultra. It received a mixed response from the team here at DS+CO, with both sides making valid points. Those who liked the ad commented on its laid-back vibe, while those who didn’t enjoy it found the message behind it unclear. It may not win over any new loyalists, but the spot at least connected the brand with a casual atmosphere that any beer company would want.
Ad #2: Rocket Mortgage (Dream House with Anna Kendrick and Barbie)
In a stand-out spot for us, Rocket Mortgage tapped directly into the childhood memories of Millennials and Gen X. In other words, people looking to buy their first or second home. Although some of us felt it was a sensory overload, there’s no denying Rocket Mortgage knows its audience. And by connecting those childhood memories with the idea of buying a new home, a connection is made between the good times that came before and the bright future that lays ahead. A smart ad with some laughs baked in, Rocket Mortgage is a favorite.
Ad #3: Verizon 5G Internet (Goodbye Cable)
Combining nostalgia and celebrities, Verizon’s spot for its 5G internet had Jim Carrey reprise his role from the ’90s cult classic “The Cable Guy.” Although more lighthearted than the dark film itself, it works in the ad’s favor as Carrey’s attempts to install cable are thwarted at every turn. As to whether that’s a comment on the persistence of modern cable companies, who can say? But the message and benefits were clearly conveyed. That’s a win in and of itself.
Ad #4: Uber Eats (Uber Don’t Eats)
Winner of the funniest commercial of the night, Uber Eats went all in on silliness with the help of a celebrity cast. As disgusting as some of the eaten items might have been, the brand committed to the gag (forgive the pun) while highlighting its capabilities beyond delivering food. In our discussion, someone commented on how they could picture an internal meeting about possibly needing to change “Uber Eats” since it delivers plenty of non-edible items. Fortunately, they kept the name and ran with the concept instead.
Ad #5: Coinbase
Every year, there’s at least one ad that stands out from the pack. Whether it’s controversial, innovative or flat-out nonsensical, one ad defines the entire night. And for Super Bowl LVI, that ad came from Coinbase. All things considered, it was a divisive spot for the DS+CO team. Some praised it for cutting through the clutter while others criticized it for its poor user journey. As far as measurement goes, Coinbase surely has encouraging data for how many people followed the QR code. And although we don’t know how many people actually signed up, the page itself lingered in the browser of many of our phones, sticking with us well after the game ended. Not to mention the fact that the app went down—albeit temporarily—due to the sudden surge of users.
From a branding perspective, the journey wasn’t seamless. The retro spot doesn’t truly reflect the image the brand puts forward elsewhere, striking some of us as more of a gimmick than a unified effort. And as far as the controversy around cryptocurrency goes, it didn’t do anything to quell those concerns. Still, advertisements should encourage people to take action. This ad did exactly that.
If there’s a lesson to be learned from this year’s commercials, it’s that knowing your audience is essential. And all the ’90s era nostalgia is proof that these brands know their audience well. If you’re looking to learn more about your customers—potential or otherwise—get in touch with our research team today.
Nick Guadagnino is a DS+CO copywriter and expert at finding the right words in every situation.