The Super Bowl has become a pop culture spectacle in every way. From the game to the halftime show, even the advertising has evolved into a beloved part of the experience. The big game is when advertising agencies bring their very best (and sometimes most disruptive) work to market.
The ads are as much an event as the game, and our industry celebrates the competition, the craft, and the scale of the ads. The real question, however, is this: Are they Honestly Creative?
We asked our creative team to select one ad they felt best represented the elements of Honest Creativity. They provided some insightful looks into this year’s biggest spots.
Note: If you need a refresher on the elements of Honest Creativity, jump over to this article, give it a read, and then come on back.
Karrie on NFL Run
If you’re doing it right, brand appearance at the Super Bowl should be all about next-level entertainment. And when you really show up, you offer something more meaningful. My pick for the most Honestly Creative ad is NFL’s Run With It
Here is a cultural moment where we look to brands to tell us something new. And it’s the rare occasion we’ll allow—even seek out—the occupation of our brain space for longer than 15 seconds. Long-form storytelling is welcomed. And they took full advantage with this spot. At 2 minutes long, the NFL and agency partner 72andSunny read the room and embraced the opportunity to entertain (Human, Inclusive). They utilized their massive stage to offer awareness for a growing sport and celebrate the fierce intensity, competitiveness, and entertainment that the Women’s Flag Football League has to offer (Meaningful).
There is no shortage of perfectly placed cameos and references either (GO BILLS!). The humor, delight, and overall production quality (Human, Crafted) adds to the affection we have for the protagonist—and the setup interview with Erin Andrews keeps you within the context of the game the entire time. While the production wasn’t uncomplicated, the idea of co-opting the Super Bowl’s space and time as a seamless segue into the message was. (Simple)
Matt on Dodge Ram
I watched this year’s Super Bowl with an ad-heavy mindset more than any previous year. There were only a few spots that really caught my attention. Of those, I really enjoyed how Ram used a play on those cringeworthy E.D. (and other pharma spots) to poke fun at people’s fears of owning an electric-powered truck and what kind of performance this type of vehicle has.
The spot was geared to a very specific audience and very well crafted – to the point where I found myself questioning if the ad was really for Ram or if it was truly a part of the pharma industry. The risky play of referencing such a taboo topic makes the spot extremely distinct in its category. The humor also helps to lighten the tone and make the audience rethink the ability of electric performance vehicles.
Keep it up, Ram …
Ruth Rossi on Samuel Adams, “Your Cousin’s Brighter Boston”
For me, Samuel Adams’ commercial, Your Cousin’s Brighter Boston, stood out among a crowded field of beer brands during the most watched game of the year. The Honest Creativity shown in the ad was enjoyable, with a simple tagline that flipped the Boston stereotype on its head, creating a comedic and memorable commercial that felt human and distinct.
The ad had several well-crafted moments, including the depiction of drivers giving up the only free parking spot and showing the camaraderie between rival Red Sox and Yankee fans. These delightful scenarios made the commercial strong enough on their own. However, taking it a step further by including a cameo of former Celtics player and trash talker Kevin Garnett spreading love was icing on the cake. I feel this concept has room for versatility and can be stretched into several more scenarios of what a brighter Boston entails.
Nue on Bradley Cooper and His Mom Attempt in a T-Mobile Ad
While millions of fans enjoyed the contest between the Eagles and the Chiefs, I myself enjoyed seeing Bradley Cooper getting roasted by his mom in T-Mobile’s Super Bowl ad. The 60-second spot is essentially a blooper reel, either by design or by the folks at T-Mobile realizing they needed to shift from the original plan. Using bloopers to sell a product is something that never crossed my mind and something that I don’t think I have ever seen done very often in commercial advertising. As the spot moves along we learn what T-Mobile has to offer, this and that, OK, great, whatever. Bradley Cooper’s mom, Gloria, is the main attraction here, and she is so charming in this ad as she just launches one-liners at Cooper, teasing him about his outfit, messing up her lines, and causing Cooper to burst into laughter because she can’t stick to the script. This just goes to show that no matter how successful one might be, our moms will always be there to put us in our place.
Jeremy Schwartz on Popcorners
Super Bowl 57 not only brought an entertaining game (minus that bull!@#*! holding call against The Eagles that handed The Chiefs their win) but also delivered a handful of spots worthy of The Big Game and its $7 million price tag for 30 seconds of air time. I loved the dark oddity that was Tubi’s Rabbit Hole commercial, the touching spots with 4-legged friends from The Farmer’s Dog and Amazon, and several celebrity-heavy efforts like those from Doritos and Workday. But I really want to take this opportunity to celebrate Popcorners’ Super Bowl investment in parodying the groundbreaking television drama, “Breaking Bad.”
Popcorners leveraged the characters Walter White (played by Bryan Cranston), the mild-mannered high school chemistry teacher turned ruthless crystal meth cooker and dealer, and his former student and accomplice Jesse Pinkman (Aaron Paul) from the show. The commercial painstakingly re-created the craft of the Breaking Bad narrative, but humorously twisted the darkness of the show’s subject matter to perfectly suit this light, air-popped snack chip and its news that they are now available in seven addictive flavors with the help of the show’s scary cartel kingpin character, Tuco (Raymond Cruz).
I’m focusing on this Popcorners commercial in particular because it not only delivers the nostalgia of fans everywhere for “Breaking Bad” and its characters in a comedic way, but it also uses the distinctive value props of the product itself so well within the narrative. Too many spots only attain borrowed interest from celebrities, resort to cheap, low-brow humor, or employ blockbuster-level special effects to simply get attention, but don’t truly deliver what makes the advertised product unique in its marketplace. Popcorners integrated the snack into this narrative in a surprising yet meaningful way for the show’s massive, global fanbase and did so in a way that felt uniquely ownable by this innovative snack chip brand. Well done, D3 (the in-house department at Popcorners’ parent company, PepsiCo, that created the work).