I work in advertising. I also like football. So, years ago, when a sports bar client hired me to run their Super Bowl promotion, I had a front-row seat to see which Super Bowl ads actually hit with real people in real-time. For me, that football focus group – the one that watched the game first, the ads second, and maybe had a beer or two along the way – has always been a much better barometer of good Super Bowl ads than any ad agency overanalysis. And it’s that criteria I used to determine the list below, which likely diverges wildly from any other Best Super Bowl ad rankings you’ll see. So, with that in mind, I present my version of Stack’s 2022 Top 5 Super Bowl Ads.
Best Ad With Animals
My rule no. 1 of Super Bowl advertising is, “You can never go wrong with monkeys!” Unfortunately, it seems The Man may no longer allow monkeys in ads. Or maybe creating them via CGI is cheaper and requires less clean-up. Whatever the reason, monkeys were in short supply in this year’s Super Bowl ads, and instead, we got junk food eating, beatboxing wildlife (Flamin’ Hot Cheetos and Doritos) and brief glimpses of a horse and a dog in the Budweiser ad.
That left Nissan’s “Fully Charged” ad with a CGI/animated “Robo Dog” chasing the Kia EV6 e-car. Electric dog chases the electric car, get it? It wasn’t the best ad of the night, but even with an animated dog, it was a witty concept and use of an “animal.”
Best Use of A Celebrity
In lieu of actual creativity, too many recent Super Bowl ads have packed in celebrities that serve no real purpose beyond a desperate desire for the ad to go viral. I mean, who can forget that great ad with Jeff Goldblum a few years ago that promoted …? Well, I don’t remember either, and therein lies the problem with using celebrities in your Super Bowl ad solely to try to make a splash.
With that in mind, all hail the ad for SalesForce featuring Matthew McConaughey wearing a spacesuit and riding in a hot air balloon. Running through a load of slick, preachy copy that took pokes at Jeff Bezos and Mark Zuckerberg, the deeper, thoughtful message was that SalesForce (a software company) is …#TeamEarth. I don’t know what it means either, but at least SalesForce got a lot of social media mentions for how weird and off the mark their spot with Matthew McConaughey really was.
Best Ad That Missed Completely
For years, Budweiser has called itself “The King of Beers.” But like all monarchies these days, the Budweiser brand is essentially a moldy, impotent, ceremonial anachronism.
Budweiser is what your Grandfather drank in 1967 as he sat on a folding chair by his open garage door, admiring the yard he just mowed in front of his suburban castle while listening to a ball game on a transistor radio. Budweiser is the commemorative, limited edition 12-pack of patriotic, stars-and-stripes-themed cans that your Great Uncle Abe brought to the family July 4th picnic in 2015 (most of which is still in the refrigerator in his garage today). Rather than “The King of Beers,” Budweiser is now the “Sweater-That-Smells-Like Mothballs-Your-Nana-Wears-All-Winter-Even-When-It’s-75°-Outside of Beers.”
Don’t get me wrong, as watered-down, mass-produced American light lagers go, I like Budweiser. If I was presented with a choice between Budweiser and Coors at a party, I’d grab a Bud every time. Of course, I’d also berate the host for their lack of imagination and consideration for my needs, but…
With all that said, Budweiser’s Super Bowl ad was too much story in too little time. The intent was to touch viewers with the sweet story of the dog worrying about its injured horse friend. The problem is, it all went by too fast to connect with viewers. It was clearly a 60-second ad that was cut to 30 (Budweiser only put the 60 on its YouTube channel and that’s what is embedded below). Add in that it ran at the 2:00 minute warning in the 4th quarter, and too many viewers were advertised out at that point.
On top of all that, no one will think of that too-short, touching story when faced with a beer case store display of cheap swill, seltzers, ciders, or bottles of Mango Matzo Ball Milk Stout from the local microbrewery. And even if you can find Budweiser on the shelf or on tap, will that sweet doggie/horsey story be what compels anyone to actually buy Budweiser? No!
Best Ad For Cryptocurrency
I’ll freely admit that I was looking forward to ripping apart all the ads for cryptocurrency that emerged for the Super Bowl. That’s because:
1. They’re all generally trying to normalize what is, in actuality, a wildly risky, unregulated investment that, despite the encryption implied in the name, is a Russian hacker’s dreamscape.
2. They’re all working hard to convince you to “be bold” and “get in early” when the fact is, the easy profits have already been made and getting investment from the rubes who don’t fully understand how crypto works only serves to stabilize the gains of those who’ve already bought in.
3. Though it’s being advertised as “the new money,” if it was truly money, they wouldn’t have to advertise.
So, while all the crypto ads did live up (or down) to that for the most part, the FTX spot featuring Larry David as the guy who said “It can’t be done!” before all the great achievements in history was a notch above the rest. It was well thought out, kept the viewer engaged, had some quotable lines, and got some laughs. In short, it was a fun Super Bowl ad that managed to stand out from the noise, even if it was for a sketchy crypto app.
The Best Ad of Super Bowl LVI
For my money, this was a two-horse race. While the Uber Eats spot was really good, the BMW Zeus & Hera ad was simply great. That ad featured Arnold Schwarzenegger as the now-retired Zeus, and Salma Hayek as his wife Hera, as Zeus struggles with mortal electricity needs in retirement in Palm Springs, along with their pet pegasus named Peggy. But along comes the BMW iX electric vehicle to put the charge back in Zeus’s life and he and Hera ride off into the sunset to the tune of Eddie Grant’s “Electric Avenue.” It was an exceptionally creative concept that was well-written and well-executed. The spot truly integrated celebrities into the ad (rather than just having them there for effect). It was funny, it highlighted the product’s features and benefits and, most importantly, it was memorable. Add it all up, and the BMW Zeus & Hera ad was everything a Super Bowl ad should be.
So there’s my take on the 5 best ads from Super Bowl LVI. I know everyone has their own takes and favorites, so let us know what you liked (and didn’t like) in the comments below. Until then, can someone tell me when the 2022 football season starts?