Creativity Brand Purpose Brand Strategy

Six of our favorite Super Bowl LVI commercials so far

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By Webb Wright | Junior Reporter

February 11, 2022 | 8 min read

With the Super Bowl around the corner, The Drum’s US team picks out their favorite spots from the ads already released.

Ah, February. Love is in the air, seasonal affective disorder is peaking, and millions of football fans are gearing up for a Sunday filled with junk food, celebration, and, depending on how their team fares, potential heartbreak. But the Super Bowl — America’s favorite unofficial holiday — isn’t only a competition that happens on the field; there’s an entirely separate, but parallel competition that takes place between advertisers.

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Scarlett Johansson and Colin Jost from Amazon's new Super Bowl ad

The Big Game is to advertising what the MET Gala is to fashion, or what the Cannes Film Festival is to cinema. For brands, this is a time of innovation, excitement, and possibility. Nothing elevates a brand like airing a successful Super Bowl ad.

The game airs this weekend, which means that excitement is building throughout the advertising industry. Brands are watching with rapt attention as this year’s Super Bowl advertisers unveil their multimillion-dollar marketing masterpieces. Here are our six favorites thus far...

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Lay’s ‘Golden Memories’

It’d be difficult to not produce some comedic gold when you bring together Paul Rudd and Seth Rogan, which is exactly what Lay’s has done for its Super Bowl ad. The one-minute spot unfolds largely as a montage of memories between Rudd and Rogan as they reminisce on the “good times” they’ve shared together: a 90s road trip; a plane crash; getting kidnapped by a stalker; getting caught up in a turf war; Rogan moving into a haunted house. Each scene, of course, features a couple bags of Lay’s. The ad culminates on the dais of Rogan’s wedding ceremony, where he’s getting betrothed to his beloved: the hellacious demon — “Janet” — that attacked him and Rudd in a haunted house. The ad is a classic blend of humor and collaboration with A-list celebrities — though Seth Rogan has been conspicuously silent on Twitter about the new ad.

Amazon ‘Mind Reader’

Amazon’s 90-second gameday ad, featuring real-life couple Scarlett Johansson and Colin Jost, provides a snapshot into what life might be like if Alexa could actually read our minds. The punchline is: life would become a waking nightmare, especially for a couple living under the same roof. In the ad, Alexa turns into a kind of omniscient genie, doing her job a little too well by reading Scarlett’s and Colin’s most private thoughts and then, in various ways, broadcasting those out loud. In one scene, Colin watches Scarlett perform an excessively dramatic scene from an upcoming show, which, she tells him, will be opening on March 8. Prompted by Colin’s thoughts, Alexa chimes in: “Setting reminder to fake your own death on March 8.” Were it not for its comedic angle, the ad would be decent screenwriting fodder for an episode of Black Mirror.

BMW ‘Zeus & Hera’

Where do gods go to retire? To Palm Springs, obviously. Or at least that’s the vision that plays out in BMW’s new 60-second Super Bowl ad. After retiring to the fabled Southern California resort town, Zeus and Hera — played by Arnold Schwartzenegger and Salma Hayek — look for something to break up the monotony of the “golden days” lifestyle. Zeus becomes deeply frustrated with his new routine, to the point that he spitefully causes a city-wide blackout. Then, one morning, while stepping outside to take their mini-pegasus “Peggy” for a walk, Zeus looks up to discover that Hera has gifted him the all-electric BMW IX. Yet another successful deployment of A-list celebrities that hints at a new, more sustainable direction for the brand.

Salesforce ‘The New Frontier’

In a refreshing departure from the general tone and tenor of much of modern tech advertising, Salesforce’s new ad is aimed at diverting attention away from the metaverse and the modern space race and fixing it right here, back on Earth. The company teamed up with Matthew McConaughey to star in the new ad — a fitting choice given the actor’s enormous popularity and his salt-of-the-earth demeanor. The ad, which opens with a view of the cosmos and ends with a view of Earth as seen from space, also has a distinctly expansive, celestial vibe, which makes it a good fit for the star of “Interstellar.” While humor isn’t entirely absent from the ad, it’s not the main driving force. The spot is driven by a sense of purpose and urgency, like a call-to-action for all of humanity: “while the others look to the metaverse and Mars, let’s stay here and restore ours…the new frontier, it ain’t rocket science. It’s right here.”

Pringles ‘Stuck In’

Pringles indulges in a little self-deprecating humor in its new 30-second spot, which will air during the third quarter of the Big Game. The spot opens with a man at a party staring down the barrel of a nearly-empty Pringles can. He reaches his hand inside and finds that he’s unable to remove it from the narrow tube. Undeterred, he simply goes through some of life’s biggest moments — meeting his wife, getting married, holding his newborn child, and ultimately dying — with the Pringles can still fixed obstinately to his arm like some kind of incredibly unhelpful prosthetic appendage. The ad closes with a young man, stepping away from our main character’s open casket, and reaching into a new can of Pringles. His hand gets stuck, and the circle of life continues. This is a great example of a brand adding levity to an ad by having a little fun at its own expense — and after all, who hasn’t eaten a can Pringles and struggled to reach those last few chips at the bottom? Self-deprecating humor can always go too far, of course. But in our eyes Pringles has managed to toe the line nicely with this new ad.

General Motors ‘#EVerybodyIn’

This 90-second spot from General Motors features a familiar cabal of evil masterminds from the Austin Powers franchise: Mike Meyers as Dr. Evil, Rob Lowe as Number Two, Seth Green as Scott Evil, and Mindy Sterling as Frau Farbissina. The ad opens with Dr. Evil announcing that his organization has successfully taken over General Motors, at which point his team of minions tells him that they can wield the company’s technology — including a fleet of electric vehicles — to cut back on emissions and reduce their carbon footprint. “You must help save the world first, then you can take over the world,” says Farbissina. In addition to being a playful revival of some much-loved characters, the ad provides a bold statement from a major automobile manufacturer: that climate change is a very real and immediate threat, and that car companies have a responsibility to act — and change — accordingly.

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