Creativity Brand Strategy

Watch adland's favorite Super Bowl LVI commercials as Coinbase & Uber Eats steal the show

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By Kenneth Hein | Editor

February 13, 2022 | 9 min read

The stars were out tonight. Seemingly every Super Bowl LVI commercial featured an A-Lister trying to ‘out funny’ the celebrity before them. Yet it was Coinbase’s low-tech QR code that arguably took advertising’s Lombardi Trophy tonight. Nine top advertising and marketing executives explain which ads won the night and why.

Winner: Coinbase “QR code”

Harsh Kapadia, chief creative officer, MRM New York

The Coinbase bouncing QR code stole the show for me. While we usually go for the celebrities and explosive productions, what was genius about this was it played right into what we all have been doing for over a year. See a QR code, scan it. The choice of music while subtle also added to the pull of curiosity and the temptation to get in on it. The show went on but left me with “did I just scan that QR code off the screen” and kept the Coinbase site on my second screen.

super bowl

Uber Eats' Super Bowl ad was among the top rated by creatives

The simplicity of the bouncing QR code created a moment of FOMO and you wanted to leave the Super Bowl for it! So simple, we will all be talking about it tomorrow. Did you scan that code? Or did you miss it? #Unforgettable for the work and for the brand.

Kevin Mulroy, partner and executive creative director, Mischief @No Fixed Address

I’m having a few friends over to watch the game so by law my WiFi is obligated to crap out at least once during the broadcast. As it rebooted in the awkward silence, I caught the tail end of a QR code bouncing flush into the corner of the screen. It was so crappy I thought it was part of the rebooting process. When I realized it wasn’t, I thought, whatever that was, it was the best spot of the Super Bowl. I just re-watched it to confirm. Stupid, simple, enormously ballsy, and a deeply satisfying ending.

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Ann Wool, president, Translation

As for the commercials, there was a range of brilliant humor work from General Motors' takeover by AustIn Powers, an homage to The Big Lebowski with Michelob Ultra and a surprise and delight with the "Crazy Ones" for Cutwater Spirits. One of the toughest things to deliver in the Super Bowl ad lineup is a breakthrough with a purpose message, but Mary J. Blige did just that with a necessary health message for Black women for Hologic.

After much anticipation for the so-called Crypto Bowl, the "sit up and pay attention" spot came from Coinbase. The brash simplicity of a bright colored QR code bouncing from edge to edge of a black screen like pong was a stark contrast to the lavish celebrity-stacked productions. Use of the QR code exploded during Covid, and this was a smart and cheeky way to bring the audience into the brand.

It was the only spot that made me jump up and actually scan the code to find out more. Hats off Coinbase, as a leader in the market, took an unconventional approach that really matches their brand ethos around simplicity. Full disclosure: Coinbase is a client, but the Super Bowl work was kept under wraps and we were as surprised as the many millions of Super Bowl viewers.

Winner: Uber Eats, “Don’t eats”

Samira Ansari, executive creative director, FCB

Even though I scanned both QR codes, the one on screen for 60 seconds, and the other one hidden in another ad for Rocket Mortgage, I have to go with Uber Eats as my favorite.

I couldn't keep up with the number of Crypto spots, nor the number of celebrities. What made this campaign brilliant was their celebrity casting. A simple idea, really well delivered. All week I've had a little laugh over the teasers. You can't hate on Gwyneth Paltrow for this one.

Lisa Clunie, co-founder and chief executive, Joan

This year was the year of the celebrity with nearly all commercials laying out the cold cash for a famous face. Uber Eats did a great job with a simple strategy brought to life with one after another mega star.

Gwyneth Paltrow taking a huge bite of her vagina candle was really the only thing that could steal Jennifer Coolidge's thunder. Made me truly laugh out loud.

Winner: Rocket's “Barbie Dreamhouse”

Ambika Pai, chief strategy officer, Mekanism

Here's what I loved about Rocket's Barbie Dreamhouse. First, it gets so deep into the realities of home-buying right now – the competition, the concessions, and how hard that rubs up against the dismantling the idea that anyone is going to get their dream home. But Barbie does end up getting her dream home, and it's only because of Rocket. As someone who just bought a home... I get it. I think for the audience they were trying to reach, their strategy was spot on. Also, someone needs to write a whitepaper on the renaissance of the QR code.

Winner: Toyota, “The Joneses”

Miriam Franklin, executive vice-president, head of integrated production, Deutsch

It’s funny because at first I thought Coinbase was brilliant and was going to be this year’s Reddit - basically 60 seconds of pong that was so intriguing I practically tripped over my coffee table to get my phone on that damned taunting QR Code before it disappeared. But then, epic fail on delivery. [The app crashed.]

For me, the Toyota “The Joneses” was the best of the show. Although Uber Eats and Alexa were pretty damn close seconds. The Toyota spot has the whole package you want and expect in a Superbowl spot – lots of celebrities, great soundtrack, great production value and all delivered in a highly fun and entertaining story.

Sure, there were plenty of spots with lots of star power but what separated this for me was the purposeful use of specific celebrity to drive home the notion of “keeping up with the Joneses,” – literally. From the on-camera star power, who also happened to have wide appeal across a range of audiences (points for that one), to the track (nice Easter egg - IYKYK), it was spot on. And let’s not forget the product, which is featured in every shot – the driving scenes are the perfect product demo that show how the truck handles via a fun and wild ride, without crossing into unbelievability.

Winner: Budweiser, “A Clydesdale’s Journey”

Mastercard chief marketing and communications officer Raja Rajamannar

There are lots of wonderful Super Bowl ads this year. Not easy to pick one. As a marketer and animal lover, I have to tip my hat to the Clydesdale spot. It’s a winner. It’s beautiful, immersive, hopeful. The resilience and determination hits home for all of us. The story and mood is synonymous with the way we’ve all been feeling, and then some. The return of the ad after the Clydesdale’s hiatus is equally hopeful – it’s back and familiar! We’re all yearning for a return to a better normal. I also like the ad’s authenticity – its unmistakable Budweiser. Finally, any romance between a horse and a dog has me. It tugged at my heart. Bravo, Budweiser!

Winner: General Motors Silverado “New Generation Sopranos”

Jon Bond chief tomorrowist at Tomorrow LLC and co-founder Kirshenbaum Bond + Partners

The corporate commitment to reduce greenhouse gasses is a big statement , which belongs on a big stage. GM wins the night with the new Silverado for a whole new generation ad too recreating the iconic sopranos opening featuring Jamie-Lynn Sigler with involvement of David Chase... we all miss James Galdolfini and were on the edge of our seats awaiting the resolve of this spot. It didn't let us down.

And, since no single brand can create global impact, GM making a statement for all its brands makes perfect sense. Enlisting Dr Evil and his cohorts to help save the world before they can destroy the world‘ is a nice switch from typical save the planet banter. Great idea and very good execution makes them the winner, and makes all the other superficial sight gag spots feel small in comparison.

Want to know who won last year? Click here for the Super Bowl LV results.

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