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Creative Ad Spend Brand Purpose

Weird wins: Tubi and Squarespace top adland’s favorites for Super Bowl LVII

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By Audrey Kemp | LA reporter

February 12, 2023 | 11 min read

For the first time in three years, there was no runaway favorite during the Super Bowl. No Coinbase and no Reddit, but a lot of well-executed ads. In fact, many of the ad execs among The Drum’s panel of experts waited until the end of the game to select their favorites. Here are their picks:

football helmets

Top creatives will pick their winning in-game ad on Feb. 12 / Credit: Adobe Stock

Weird wins

Lizzy Bilasano, vice-president of creative strategy, Whalar

Winner: Tubi

There were no marketers at my watch party. Celebrities, dogs, QR codes, and familiar songs had no chance at stopping any of them from scrolling on their second screens. Nothing stood out tremendously creatively, and with ads getting released online before the game earlier and earlier every year – there was no sense of Fomo. Even die-hard Breaking Bad fans didn’t take a second look when the PopCorners spot came on: ’Eh, maybe I’ll watch it online later – let me grab more wings.’

But the one ad that did catch the room’s attention was Tubi. And I’m not talking about the nightmare-worthy rabbits pushing folks down rabbit holes. Tubi hijacking everyone's screens, pretending to switch from the game to the Tubi app, caused chaos that forced (or tricked?) any room to pay attention. Those 15 seconds demanded more attention from the room than any of the star-studded, heartstring-tugging ads of the night. People are still talking about how the ad ’got them good.’ Clever and successful.

Ambika Pai, chief strategy officer, Mekanism

Winner: Tubi and Rihanna

My heart was all about The Farmer’s Dog – no explanation needed because I’m sure every dog owner felt the feels. And my head was all about Tubi. In the middle of the hot content war, what made Tubi so good was its strategy. It strategically turned the brand’s weakness (obscure content that few know), into a strength (content you never knew you were missing out on). It made utilizing their brand feel campy, provocative and underground. Tubi feels like it’s for the cool ones. None of us would’ve said this going into the Super Bowl.

Rihanna’s historic performance and announcement deserve the cultural shout-out. How incredible to see a woman nine-month postpartum, rocking a new baby bump, performing in the way only Rihanna can, on TV’s biggest night of the year. Exceptional. In its whole double meaning – she’s an absolute star and the exception to the rule. Most women nine months postpartum and pregnant with their second may not feel up to doing what Rihanna just did. So let’s appreciate her for who she is, and acknowledge that everyone’s experience is different.

Pedro Perez, chief creative officer, Dentsu Creative Chicago

Winner: Tubi

I didn’t find any spots this year to be standout, honestly. There wasn’t a distinctive structure or a new way of storytelling that was memorable or unexpected. None of the ads really separated themselves with a unique narrative that really stood out from the rest. The Tubi Rabbit spot gets an honorable mention from me. Tubi went more weird and wonderland, which gives the brand a chance to stick with consumers versus a sea of celeb-first spots.

Kasia Canning, executive creative director, BBH

Winner: Squarespace

”Super Bowl ads can sometimes be formulaic, and in a sea of celebrity montages, it was so refreshing to see Adam Driver in Squarespace — in a role that I think only he could pull off. The simple insight that it’s ‘a website that makes websites‘ is fun and memorable, and the wild execution really stood out. I caught myself thinking about it after it aired and found the extended cut online, which is even more delightful.

Bianca Guiamaraes, executive creative director, Mischief

Winner: Squarespace

It’s weird and they went for it.

The GM and Netflix partnership scores big points

Rodrigo Jatene, chief creative officer, DDB Chicago

Winner: GM and Netflix

”It was fun. Will Ferrell’s reaction to the zombie bite, pretending to be Dustin, and trying to speak 18th-century English was well-written, silly in a good way, and made me chuckle. And I also like the idea of the partnership between the two brands to get EVs in pop culture. Smart.

Jaime Robinson, co-founder, chief creative officer, Joan Creative

Winner: GM and Netflix

This was a big night for electric vehicles (EVs), and I came close to picking RAM’s ‘Premature Electrification,‘ because the writing and acting were on point.

But the ad that really made me sit up is GM and Netflix. It is a huge idea – GM is working with Netflix to feature EVs in their shows, in order to normalize them. To launch the partnership, they got Will Ferrell to do a sort of tour through their best of IP and tell us about it. The spot was well done and charming, with some funny insider moments.

But the real magic is what will happen long after Super Bowl LVII: 100 million people will now know to be on the lookout for the GM EVs in our favorite shows. Probably the most meaningful product placement ever, and I just read that it's completely unpaid. It’s a larger commitment from two beasts of industry, and one I can’t even imagine what it took to make it happen. Great for the Earth, great for GM and Netflix.

Best of the rest: One hit wonders and meth cooks

Kirsten Rutherford, executive creative director, TBWA\Chiat\Day

Winner: Uber One

”If you’re going to spend a ridiculous amount on music, it better be for good reason. Creating one hit for Uber One? That’s a pretty good reason.

’Diddy don’t do jingles.’ That bodyguard is already stealing the show.

Montell Jordan, Donna Lewis, Kelis? Tell me more…

Ylvis singing ‘What does the fox say?’ but changing the words to Uber One? That’s puppymonkeybaby-level stupid and I like it.

Haddaway? The icing on the ear-worm cake.

Is this #GenXBowl? YES. And being Gen X, I’m so here for it. Uber One’s going to stick in your head. Job done. Genius.

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Wayne Best, New York chief creative officer, VMLY&R

Winner: Amazon

“Based on how all the players were slipping on the turf, the lawncare brands are winning without even buying ads. If they’re smart, they’ll respond on social media. And if I have to choose a paying brand, I liked the Amazon commercial with the dog kennel. It had me thinking ‘Noooo,’ when they were going to kennel the dog and then it had a nice twist at the end.

Doug Kamp, chief creative officer, Mower

Winner: PopCorners

If you thought there were a lot of stars packed onto one stage during the history of rap tribute at the recent Grammys, then you had to be impressed by the constant parade of celebrities featured in commercials throughout the Super Bowl, NFL’s biggest stage. This year’s show-stopping spots are following a consistent playbook of 3 S’s: stars, storytelling and sentimentality.

As with years past, I feel like most of the spots already wore out my social feeds before I viewed them ‘in-game’, but a few favorites entertained me above the others. Cher Horowitz and Amber’s Clueless redux for Rakuten (with inspired casting of Christian Siriano); Ozzy, Kiss, and other true rockstars lambasting the use of ‘rockstar’ recruitment jargon for Workday; Diddy playing the hitmaker for Uber One (with his producer backing down Ylvis of What Does the Fox Say? fame). But my most-viewable commercial of the game is the homage to Breaking Bad, reprising the roles of Walt, Jesse and even Tuco in a pitch-perfect ‘pitch’ for PopCorners.

Check out The Drum’s Super Bowl LVII ad scoreboard to see the Big Game ads. Feel like your creative is a winner? Enter The Drum Awards for Marketing Americas now. For more, sign up for The Drum’s daily US newsletter.

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