Super Bowl Ads. The Good. The Bad. The Ugly.

OK, let’s talk about the Super Bowl Ads. The good, the bad, and the ugly.

Two years after the start of the pandemic, it was no surprise that brands came back full force this year with big production budgets, celebrity cameos, music licensing, cross promotion, QR codes (ugh) and TONS of nostalgic references, quite possibly the theme of the Super Bowl Ad Zeitgeist. Not to mention the relentless push of EV (Electronic Vehicles), and Metaverses, and Crypto, and 5G, and PEYTON MANNING (enough already, we know we can’t escape you).

So what makes a great ad? Having an objective and achieving it. Having something to say worth saying. Tapping into those deep dark corners of the human consciousness to subtly drive behavior. I digress.

We say that people (aka consumers) remember how you made them feel. They may not remember everything you said or did, but the feeling remains. Tapping into that nostalgia treasure chest in the back of your target demographic’s mind unlocks instant recall…and big brand value.

On the other side, if you need action right now, couple that nostalgia with a unique, disruptive, and downright weird content could pay off…like with Coinbase.

And finally…hey brands, please don’t get too cute. The point is having something to say. If your message is lost in too much celebrity nostalgic fluff…I forget why we were here. Have something to say or don’t say it at all.

So let’s break it down.


  • Coinbase. For better or worse, EVERYONE remembered this ad and it accomplished its goal. Simple objective – drive site traffic for a promotion. Simple solution – avant-garde nostalgia production and direct response. Site crashed from so much traffic. Task failed successfully.  
  • Rocket Mortgage. PLOT TWIST! So much nostalgia we truly thought this was a Barbie comeback commercial that was out of rotation from the Saturday morning cartoons (do those still exist?). Alas, morph into cross-branded Barbie/Rocket Mortgage/He-Man/StockX ad. Objective: new home buyers? Got ’em. Objective: female home buyers? Got ’em. Huge talent, production, licensing fee? Got those, too. And a QR Code.
  • GM EV. EVerybody in with Dr. EVil. Self-deprecation there a bit? OK, I get it. Cinema quality nuance and nostalgia…and culturally sensitive corporate virtue signaling…how nice. But do people really want EVs? Is the goal to create demand? Just because Tesla can do it doesn’t mean GM can, but this ad would tell you different. I think that was their point…but do EVs really help the environment?
  • Weather Tech. These get better every year. Hats off to Dave McNeil who has stuck with his core message for decades. Great products made in ‘Merica. No fluff. No celebrities. No Music. Just VERY solid product-based retail marketing. We didn’t know we needed a CupFone until Dave McNeil told us! Disclaimer: Yes I have a CupFone…and a DeskFone.
  • Amazon Alexa. We all already assume all of our devices are listening, why not use that? Well, if the goal was to disarm the general public of the impending rule of overlord Bezos to occupy every corner of your home and life, this ad achieved it. Scarlett and Colin are the quintessential Hollywood couple:  funny, attractive, and successful. Did they convince me that Alexa was just a benign entity there to help? Yes. Too bad we are all just pawns in Jeff’s game now. Brainwash complete.
  • Larry David Crypto. OK, I may be biased here as a huge LD fan, but that is off-set by my general distaste for Crypto, NFTs, and the Metaverse that are closing in on us like digital monoliths. Anyway…sometimes you must appeal to fear or greed to get a response. This does both with big production value, a perfectly used “nay-sayer,” and a simple call to action. Don’t be like Larry (though he is already worth $500m) – buy Crypto. But seriously, be careful.
  • Kia EV. This touched on every single emotional cliché an agency can tap into. Dogs, real or otherwise, check. Beautifully shot cinematic lifestyle imagery, check. Meme-able, beloved, pop-culture music bed that is equally loved and hated? Check. New product that is actually worth talking about? Check.
  • Toyota Keeping up with the Joneses/Jonases. Toyota’s trucks have struggled the last decade. With the domestics either chasing EVs or huge power outputs (read RAM TRX), stick to what brought you to the dance: durability. Toyota trucks are, in fact, some of the most dependable, and you won’t be keeping up with the Joneses…you’ll be leaving them behind.
  • Salesforce. Honorable mention. When everyone zigs – you zag. If Meta is going Meta, and Musk is on Mars, let the rest of us humanoids stay here and save earth, you know, OUR planet that we live on. But how many people of the 110 million viewers actually use Salesforce, better yet write the check for Salesforce software?

The BAD.

  • Chevy Silverado. OK, this is between GOOD and BAD. This was PEAK nostalgia and branding, but used improperly. A staggering 3.5 million people have seen it on YouTube since Sunday. Their target demo for the new Silverado is A35-54. Everyone in that demo has seen Tony Soprano driving down the NJ Turnpike in his Tahoe. Now the next gen is in their EV Silverado. Meadow and AJ reuniting at the diner. Wait…is this a Sopranos re-boot or a Silverado ad? What are we selling? I’m lost.
  • Doritos. Usually Doritos will do something avant-garde and topical. This year’s…wasn’t. Animals will pretty much eat anything you give them? Is that the message? Where did the Salt-N-Pepa come from? Maybe a salt and pepper flavor? I’m lost. Again.
  • Meta Quest 2. Talk about the wrong usage of nostalgia. Notice how they didn’t use any humans at all? I guess we are all just an energy source to plug into the matrix for Zuck. I mean it was 1:30 of cinema and 10 seconds of product.
  • Michelob Ultra. A handful of sports legends drink Michelob Ultra while they bowl? And Steve Buscemi drinks Mich Ultra while he is working the front desk. Wait…what?
  • Taco Bell. Is the target demo clowns? Clown Schools? Reformed clowns? I don’t get it. Give me a chicken-wrapped taco deep fried in Diet Coke. We already know you are on every corner, Taco Bell…remind us at 1 AM for Fourthmeal.
  • Carvana. OK, this was pretty good production, but it has to go on my bad list, just because they spent the last 3 years insulting dealers across the country with a non-existent business model…so the business model is what? Doing good business? So the assumption is that every dealer experience is bad? Good way to alienate hundreds of thousands of people. But…it’s working.
  • Turkish Airlines. Production levels, emotion, high concept – it was all there. The concept was we are one small earth etc, but really, what percentage of the US population is going to immediately jump on Turkish Airlines book-a-flight page? Especially those watching the Super Bowl and not at the Super Bowl? 7.5 million views for what?  


  • T-Mobile. OK, we admit we love Miley. but really? This isn’t Live Aid. It’s 5G. Nobody cares or wants 5G. Talk about self-serving. Correct me if I am wrong, but there was no charity right? What was the point of this? Cringe.
  • Sam’s Club. So, uh, now you want me to scan my own groceries, and, uh check myself out? And uh, this is, uh, Sam’s Club VIP? Maybe…maybe not. Even with Kevin Hart’s help, I can assure you this will not help change the perception of this new process. And Kevin Hart certainly isn’t using it. Talk about convenience, savings, faster checkout. Maybe if someone did that for you, it would be VIP.  
  • Verizon Cable Guy. We all loved the movie. We love Jim Carrey. Heck, we love the nostalgia AGAIN. But I’m pretty sure most people are watching this game on some sort of cable system. In fact, the entire internet is still based on cables trans-versing the globe. So let’s go ahead and insult an entire group of professionals in the interest of our corporate needs. Cringe. Less than 6,000 views online.
  • Cue Health. “OK guys, let’s leverage global fear to launch a product so invasive with such a soft touch that it will make us look like the good guys…but we are going to track the entire planet’s health history with this little box! Now add some soft music in the background and make sure the lighting is very bright. Oh, and the box should talk.”

By the way…

  • What’s with our Peyton Manning obsession?
  • Talk about the return of the QR code…
  • Do we really need 5G though?
  • And, by golly, if you don’t own Crypto you’re not in the cool kids club (read: silicon-valley-hypothetical-nickel-crypto-bro-gamer-antisocial-social-meta-robot-club)
  • The Metaverse is coming for you…whether you like it or not.

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February 14, 2022 Matthew Simonetti


Matt Simonetti

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