Great Games: Adrenaline’s Annual Roundup of the Most Buzzworthy Super Bowl Ads
Our team’s review of 2023’s brand advertising in the spotlight during the big game
In addition to football franchises engaging in head-to-head competition, there are rival brand teams vying for their share of the spotlight, too. On what is arguably the biggest Sunday night of the year, football spectators and brand enthusiasts comingle and converge to rank and rate their fan favorites and also witness a few fumbles, both on and off the field. In what has become known as advertising’s premier event, there are most definitely big winners of the big game.
Coming together virtually, Adrenaline’s Super Bowl brand fans across the company held a coast-to-coast watch party for Super Bowl LVII where we shared ideas and opinions – from epic snacks to sideline snark, we had it all. Afterward, we opened up Adrenaline’s annual Super Bowl Superlatives Survey, where we voted for our own slate of winners. The competition between teammates to correctly predict the top vote-getters was almost as heated as the matchup between the Kansas City Chiefs and the Philadelphia Eagles. Here’s our star-studded rundown of 2023’s Super Bowl ads.
Best in Show – “The Singularity” by Squarespace
In their ninth Super Bowl campaign, Squarespace features Adam Driver, starring as multiple versions of himself in a commercial that’s as satirical as it is visual. In the highly-stylized ad, Adam says that Squarespace is a “website that makes websites,” realizing the platform has the capacity to create itself. In a nod to the futuristic concept of singularity, the moment when artificial intelligence becomes smarter than its human creators, the ad appeals to technology and sci-fi geeks, alike, and features a memorable tagline for everyone looking for simplicity (or multiplicity).
Best Celebrity Cameo – “Drive-Thru Starring Ben” by Dunkin’
Boston’s own Ben Affleck joins the Dunkin’ crew at the drive-thru in this new ad, pranking customers who are in the queue for their favorite cup of joe, even surprising his wife who is confused as to why he’s there. For a beloved Massachusetts based brand, this collaboration is a way to highlight the coffee chain’s Northeastern roots with one of its biggest fans whose love of Dunkin’ runs deep. With Affleck decked out in Dunkin’ gear, this mix of real and staged results in an ad that quickly takes off on social, with people saying things like, “Find someone who loves you the way Ben Affleck loves #Dunkin.”
Most Random Ad – “Ma&Ya’s: Candy Coated Clam Bites” by M&Ms
Anyone want a handful of candy-covered clams? The M&M’s ad debuting at the Super Bowl certainly had us scratching our heads wondering why Mars used its pricey timeslot on the worldwide stage this way. Thank goodness M&M’s doesn’t have a candy with clams inside, but aside from the gross-out humor and cameo from one of comedy’s funniest leading ladies, we’re not exactly sure what this ad is saying. Thus, our “random” designation. While Maya Rudolph sings about this nasty new flavor, the Red M&M stands in the background with a sign that reads, “Help!” That part of the ad speaks for itself.
Worst Song in an Ad – “One Hit For Uber One” by Uber
Two new musical numbers tied in our song rankings for their Super Bowl debut, and no, they didn’t have Rihanna belting them out. In “One Hit For Uber One,” Sean “Diddy” Combs is trying to produce a hit song for the brand’s Super Bowl Commercial – how very meta to have an ad about making an ad for the very forum it’s being featured in. With a series of artists bringing reworked versions of their songs to the studio, it isn’t until Haddaway comes in with his danceable hit “What Is Love” that Diddy is satisfied. While the reworked lyrics made us a little sad, we refuse to let this version of the song linger with us for too long.
Worst Song in an Ad – “New year. New neighbor.” by T-Mobile
With a cameo from Zach Braff and Donald Faison (from Scrubs) and John Travolta, the new T-Mobile ad features song and dance in a brightly colored suburban neighborhood. It has all the elements that should add up to a catchy ad – star power, smart snappy lyrics and campy copy – but it never really gels. Even more, you might predict that a song reprising Grease might get cringey, and you’d be right, especially since Braff and Faison really can’t sing all that well. Though well-intentioned, this sendup of “Summer Nights” falls flat for us. Where are the T-Birds and Pink Ladies when you need them?
Biggest Waste of Money in an Ad – “Inch By Inc” by Rémy Martin
Even though Rémy Martin gets the great Serena Williams for its “Any Given Sunday” style commercial, her tennis prowess and inspirational persona are not successfully translated into a meaningful ad for the brand. The relationship between the long locker room pep talk to football players and the other teams we see on screen – a ballet troupe, a restaurant kitchen – was unclear. The tagline “Team Up for Excellence” is out of context. If you have a tennis-great and brand ambassador like Serena Williams representing you, why not show her as the GOAT she is, doing what she does best? Being excellent.
Best Tearjerker Ad – “Forever” by The Farmer’s Dog
In our final category, we bring in all of the feels. No need for star-studded stunts or cameos, because we have dogs. This ad tugs at any animal lover’s heartstrings with a tale of lifelong love between a girl and her dog. With a promise from the girl that “I’ll always take care of you” to her dog, we follow along on their adventures from her pre-teen years through young motherhood and see life from both of their vantages. Perfectly accompanied by the Lee Fields’ soul crooner “Forever,” this ad fills up your heart. The tagline “Nothing matters more than more years together” is simply pitch-perfect. Now, go hug your dog.
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Adrenaline is an end-to-end brand experience company serving the financial industry. We move brands and businesses ahead by delivering on every aspect of their experience across digital and physical channels, from strategy through implementation. Our multi-disciplinary team works with leadership to advise on purpose, position, culture, and retail growth strategies. We create brands people love and engage audiences from employees to customers with story-led design and insights-driven marketing; and we design and build transformative brand experiences across branch networks, leading the construction and implementation of physical spaces that drive business advantage and make the brand experience real.