Creatives pick their favorite Super Bowl ads

Industry creatives break down the good, the bad and the ugly from the Big Game.

Campaign US Staff

The Big Game has come to an end, the winning team has received their rings and brands have had their 15 minutes of fame on advertising’s biggest stage.

To cap off the Super Bowl, Campaign US invited our network for creative leaders to evaluate this year’s batch of ads — from fan favorites to those that missed the mark.

Here are their picks.

Icaro Doria, chief creative officer at Hill Holliday

I didn’t grow up with football, so Sunday really is, for me, only, or mostly, about the ads. About 13 years ago, Coca-Cola (and Wieden — Hi Sheena Brady!) came out with my all-time favorite Super Bowl ad: A new rendition of Grand Theft Auto and “You Give a Little Love.” It came unannounced, and it renewed my love for what we all do.

I have not seen any preview of Coca-Cola ads about optimism and togetherness, but I am hoping that one will show up to surprise us all.

The Amazon ad with Scarlett Johansson and Colin Jost contemplating the disaster it would be if Alexa could read our minds also stands out. It’s funny and well-made, if not too close to my fears that Alexa is not reading our minds, but listening to every word or sound we make at all times. It’s funny, big, well done.

I also really like the Lay’s ad with Seth Rogen and Paul Rudd ad, where they are going down memory lane of all of the times they ate the potato chips together. This one is also funny and charismatic. Really well made.

Jessea Hankins, creative director, Duncan Channon

Super Bowl LVI was filled with celebrity-laden spots, so I’m intrigued when a brand does something that feels original.

Which is why I love the Irish Spring ad. I fully expect it to have haters, but I loved its well-executed, high-concept weirdness. Cults are so zeitgeisty! The brand fully commits to its creative idea, alpacas and all (do the alpacas smell good, too?). “Smell from a nice-smelling place” is perilously close to Old Spice territory, but I’ll let it slide.

On the other side of the star-studded spectrum, I give props to the Uber Eats spot. A food-delivery brand showing celebrities eating diapers was delightful. What a smart, counterintuitive approach to show that Uber delivers more than food. Honestly, the celebrities weren’t even necessary.

Kelly McCullough, creative director, Duncan Channon

Super Bowl is THE stage for comedic storytelling. So when it comes to the ads, I want to laugh. Like, a lot. That’s my personal barometer for what makes a successful Super Bowl spot.

I was happy to see many brands bet on humor, but one ad rose above them all: Pringles “Stuck In.” I was cracking up within the first few seconds. The brand zeroed in on a human truth about eating Pringles — something only they can own — and built a hilarious story around it. The formula is super simple, and it works. Lionel Richie’s “Stuck On You” takes it to the next level. And the extended version proves that the joke can keep on going. Well done.

I also enjoyed Amazon’s “Mind Reader,” which I was skeptical of at first. Though it relies on celebrity casting, Scarlett Johansson and Colin Jost deliver. The long format allows for a nice volley between them with funny dialogue and lots of goofy vignettes, including eyepatches and even Stevie Nicks. Sigh, I wish my Alexa was that good.

Maggie Malek, CEO of MMI

I like what Instacart has planned in that it taps into authentic brand voices by activating on TikTok with native creators to the platform. Tying the effort to their  “Snacktime Report” — which offers a window into what Americans will be chowing down on coming gametime — will no doubt lead to a few more items added to carts.

Matt Bijarchi, Managing Partner, Blend

I don’t know why, but the commercials seemed more fun overall this year.  Or maybe I am just in a better mood.

The Rocket Mortgage Ad was the winner for me. The writing was good, and Anna Kendrick was perfect. The child actors were excellent. Betty Offer Betty going $10,000 over asking had me howling. I can see why Rocket hyped this commercial so much. It was good.

Booking.com gives us what we want with Idris Elba as a spokesperson… and they wisely keep him on screen every second of the ad. They have my business.

I also liked Cutwater’s ‘Here’s to the Lazy Ones’ — smart and funny. Irish Spring had me laughing. Chuckled at Turbo Tax Matchmaker and Caravana, both. GM Silverado’s ‘New Generation’ with the younger actors from the Sopranos was very well done. I thought they executed that perfectly.

Toyota’s ‘Keeping up with the Jones’ was good and Tommy Lee Jones played well off Nick Jonas. The BMW ad is everything you want in a Super Bowl commercial — Arnold and Salma have fun with it, are funny together, and play it straight as Zeus and his wife. And you can’t help but smile and nod along to ‘Electric Avenue’.

DraftKings was confusing and seemed like an expensive production, but it was nice to see Joe Namath there at the end.  The Wallbox ad was also difficult for me to understand, and the Turkish Airlines spot felt… over produced.

All in all, though, I laughed more this year and I noticed way less Pharma ads. Big wins.

Erica Fite, cofounder/co-CCO, Fancy

You can’t say that the Super Bowl ads this year didn’t try. Big, entertaining productions filled with quirky fun seemed to be saying, “we’re back” — we’re done with that ol’ pandemic, out of our bubbles and masks, ready to invest in crypto, drive electric cars, cruise down a super-crowded mountain with thousands of people, or jump into the metaverse.

The re-entry into the world of unlimited production, just like our own re-entry into the world outside our homes, feels a little awkward, like everybody wants so badly to be cool and get attention that they forgot to be human. This made the ads that reminded us of what really matters stand out.

There were two ads that literally told us to appreciate the world we live in and not get caught up in the bullshit. It’s tough to think of a more powerful line than when Ewan MacGregor, in the Expedia ad, says “Do you think any of us will look back on our lives and regret the things we didn’t buy or the places we didn’t go?” Pow!

And, when Matthew McConaughey says for Salesforce, “While the others look to the metaverse and Mars, let’s stay here and restore ours,” it seems like there might be hope for the rapidly heating earth after all.

It’s tough not to love Scarlett Johansson, Colin Jost and sweet truth-telling Alexa, showing we are all human — even celebrity power couples. Another super heart-warming relationship that cut through the clutter was the story of the McKeever brothers, in Toyota’s spot, who won 10 Paralympic medals together.

Despite all that, there is no doubt that Peggy, the mini-Pegasus in BMW’s electric car spot, was the most memorable star of the evening.

Sinan Dagli, executive creative director, BSSP

Liquid Death is a wonderfully disruptive water company, and that philosophy was on full display during the Super Bowl. It’s likely that many people didn’t know the brand — and Liquid Death brilliantly used that to their advantage.  In the spot, we see kids chugging Liquid Death Water and partying to the unexpectedly catchy heavy metal track from Judas Priest, “Breaking the Law.” This only aggravates the already concerned and most likely confused audience and sets up the last vignette perfectly: a pregnant woman who proudly smiles and joins in the Liquid Death Water party. The end line perfectly sums things up, masterfully informing the nation what Liquid Death Water is on its own terms: “Don’t be scared, it’s just water.”

FTX created a spot entirely around the persona of its star, Larry David. We see David throughout history, dismissing incredible feats of humanity in his iconic grumpy demeanor. We finally land in the present, where Mr. David once again disses the latest progress in history: crypto .The story ends with the tagline “DON’T BE LIKE LARRY,”  poking fun at the crypto critics. No matter which side you are on the crypto debate, it’s hard not to laugh at Larry David dissing things for 60 seconds.

Irish Springs

Irish Springs takes a big swing creating a weird original spot that combines their old ads from the 70s with a hint of Midsommar stimulant and knocks it out of the park. It takes plenty of courage to do that on the biggest stage.

Leeann Leahy, CEO, VIA

On balance, I liked a lot more ads this year than in recent years. Hellman’s which struck a nice balance between purpose and entertainment. So often purpose advertising is heavy, virtuous or has no connection to the product.

Doritos brought the Super Bowl fun. BMW’s story was well executed and stood out against other the car ads, which were essentially saying the same thing: “Look at our EV offering.” I also thought Rocket Mortgage put a clever spin on a cluttered category, and Squarespace was memorable and clear on its branding.

The worst was T-Mobile. It fell flat…twice. Meta was weird enough to make people even more confused than they already are about what the metaverse is.

There weren’t any huge surprises; brands leaned into the same use of celebs, humor and big messaging as most years.  But I did enjoy the introduction of new technology from Google and Cue Health.

Jason Rappaport, group creative director, 180 LA 

Coinbase wasn’t entertaining, but it definitely got my attention — and that of everyone in my living room, as I watched them pull out their phones and scan the bouncing QR code. Coinbase didn’t just stand out against all the other crypto efforts in this year’s game. It was one of the more memorable ads of the night in general. And judging by all the Twitter chatter, and the fact that their website crashed, it looks like they got their money’s worth.

The message that Uber Eats delivers more than just eats was received loud, clear and humorously. A fun ad to watch during a fun game. Bonus points for Gwyneth eating her vagina candle.

I loved the product and packaging insight in the Pringles ad, as well as the Lionel Richie track and that the spot didn’t take itself too seriously. I only wish the end line was better!

Bud Light and Budweiser both didn’t feel like themselves. I’m still trying to figure out why WeatherTech spends money on the Super Bowl. Wallbox made me think I was about to watch a serious spot about overcoming a terrible accident, but the attempt at humor fell flat. Cutwater played to the advertising crowd thing with the “think different” parody, which most non-ad people might not get. Quickbooks felt like a miss to me, as did Taco bell.

Overall, I think the Super Bowl commercials have seen better years, but the game was great! Go Rams!

Jen Bills, executive creative director, 1o8

I kind of hate that we have commercials for cryptocurrency now, but Coinbase’s bouncy QR code was an effective way to avoid educating the public on what it does and have them seek it out for themselves. I didn’t go to the site, but a ton of people did.

Uber Eats charmed me. Give me Jennifer Coolidge with the perfect line of “Wait…if it was delivered with Uber Eats, does that mean I can eats it?” ALL DAY. I think commercials start to lose their way when there are too many distracting stars in them, but I’ll let it slide because we got to watch Gwyneth bite into a vagina candle.

I really enjoyed the all-electric Chevy Silverado Sopranos spot. To go after the beloved opening credits of America’s favorite series, with the fictional children of our favorite bad guy and lost actor was brilliant, emotional and full of swagger. It was a nice touch to capture the TV sibling reunion with a teary Jamie-Lynn Sigler.

Cutwater’s simple, funny, visually driven storytelling and strong POV was great. That icicle breaking off and falling into a drink, because “who wants to give up this chair?” made apathy very cool. I also loved Irish spring. Turning their perfect 70s brand into Midsommar for stinky people was pretty brilliant and self-aware.

Shout out to T-Mobile’s “Do It For the Phones” for showing us that sometimes, it’s worth it to overdo it. And, thank you to Busch Light for giving us “Voice of the Mountains” with all its classic Super Bowl charm, fun and giant people superimposed over mountains.

Jonathan Schoenberg, executive creative director/partner, TDA Boulder

When a QR code is the most impactful commercial in the Super Bowl, we need to recognize that advertising should not be Groundhog’s day — but Groundhog’s Day is fun.

I like that corporate America did not try to convince us it’s more woke than it actually is. I wish every company cared more about people than profits, but let’s demonstrate it and not just advertise.

I love the message in the Sales Forces spot. I loved the Uber Eats ad because it was a simple, memorable and enjoyable idea that was memorable that felt larger than it was.

People in the industry were saying they won’t remember what Larry David was selling. I will, because it was fun. It was Larry being Larry. (We all remember American Express because it was Jerry being Jerry.)

The game was great and the commercials felt familiar (in a good way). I hope next year brands join Super Bowl conversation in unexpected ways.