The start of February brings the recurrence of one of America’s most watched annual events: the Super Bowl. This year, the Philadelphia Eagles and Kansas City Chiefs faced off in a close game, with Kansas City ultimately pulling the victory 38-35, and Rihanna performed a compilation of her greatest hits in a high energy halftime performance. But, the most important part of a Super Bowl is arguably the commercials. For those who missed it, worry not. We’ve compiled a list of the top five best and worst from this year.
Honorable Mention: Welcome to Super Bowl 57 Hype Video
While not a commercial in the traditional sense, the video played by the NFL before the coin flip was an incredibly effective promotion. It featured both teams’ highlights and players, set to dramatic music. Its goal was to get viewers excited before the big game started, which it achieved well, earning it a spot on this list despite its non-traditional classification as a true “commercial.”
5) T-Mobile: Bradley Cooper & Mom
Compared to other products, I imagine cell phone service is a difficult commodity to advertise for. As a result, nearly every ad for cell phone service is the same, regardless of the brand. It typically features a minor celebrity in a cell phone service store, discussing the newest promotion, which is then highlighted in big bold letters over a map of the continental United States, highlighting where the provider offers coverage. This commercial took a different, more humorous approach featuring actor Bradley Cooper and his mother. The two attempted to act out a typical cell service ad, with Cooper playing the salesman informing his mom, the customer, of the promotion being offered. However, instead of being informative, the commercial played like a blooper reel, featuring shots of the pair teasing each other, and laughing. The tone was lighthearted, and funny, and was unusually entertaining for a cell service commercial. However, both the promotion and the brand didn’t stand out to me; in my initial notes, I had this written as an AT&T commercial, and it took a rewatch to remember the promotion being advertised. For lack of promoting the brand or ad, this commercial will take the number five slot on this list.
4) Google Pixel: #fixedonPixel
With their newest phone, Google has allowed users to edit photos, namely by removing unwanted objects from them. The commercial takes a humorous tone, showing images with awkward or funny background activity to showcase why people would want this feature. It then utilizes celebrity cameos to take the idea further, while keeping that same humorous tone. As another way to subtly play into pop culture, the commercial opens with a string rendition of an Elvis song, popularized by the recent eponymous hit movie. The commercial effectively displays the new feature, appeals it to the average person, and utilizes celebrities and events to further connect it to the audience. However, the commercial isn’t particularly memorable or inspired, and views more like a normal commercial than one created for the Super Bowl, preventing it from ranking higher on this list.
3) Crown Royal: Dave Grohl, “Thank You Canada”
This commercial featured rock star Dave Grohl in a recording studio, thanking the country of Canada for all the important inventions it’s responsible for, including peanut butter, electric wheelchairs, and batteries. This commercial offered an elegant cohesiveness in its simplicity; Grohl, a musician, starts by recognizing famous Canadian musicians, and concludes by pointing out that football is a Canadian invention, which is timely for being a Super Bowl commercial. Throughout the commercial, he has a glass of whiskey on the recording table with him, which seems innocuous enough, until the end of the commercial, when he thanks Canada for the invention of Crown Royal whiskey. Short, simple, entertaining, cohesive, and to the point, this commercial was delightfully efficient, and showcases exactly what an ad should be.
2) Rakuten: Clueless
Alica Silverstone reprised her role in the hit movie Clueless for this commercial. In a demonstration of a celebrity cameo flawlessly executed, she parodies some of the most iconic lines from the film as a way to advertise shopping for clothes using Rakuten. The parody makes sense, and isn’t forcing a connection between the product and the reference, like so many ads do. Instead, it features Silverstone giving an impassioned speech to her classmates, as well as her shopping, and her revolving closet, all key scenes from Clueless, while connecting the character’s love for clothes and shopping to the brand being advertised. The ad is entertaining and fun to watch for how closely it parallels the film, and connects well to the product being sold, making it a solid commercial in total.
1 ) The Farmer’s Dog: “Forever”
This commercial for dog food starts with a chocolate lab puppy and a young girl laying together. It then shows a montage of the two of them as they grow up together, ending with the dog, now gray in the face, laying with the girl, who is now grown, married, and has children. The commercial is set to a song about living another forever, and there are a few shots of the girl feeding the dog Farmer’s Dog brand dog food. It tugs at the viewer’s heartstrings, and I’m not ashamed to say that it completely drew me in, and did make me tear up a little. Furthermore, this is the only ad from the entire game that people have actually discussed with me. Immediately after it aired, I received texts asking if I saw it and remarks on how good and emotional it was. In the week after it first aired, the commercial came up again in several conversations with people who had watched the game. This commercial lives up to the expectation of a Super Bowl ad: it’s emotional, touching and heartfelt, details why the viewer should buy a product convincingly and creatively, and provides conversation for after the game. In doing so, it earns its spot as the best commercial of the 2023 Super Bowl.
Honorable Mention: E-trade: Wedding Babies
This commercial is the newest in a long line of E-trade talking baby commercials. These commercials rely on technology that allows editors to put adult mouths on a babies face to make them look as though they are talking. Often, the babies are in an adult situation and discussing adult matters. In this year’s commercial, the babies are at a wedding, giving best man speeches and talking with relatives. The concept is old and worn; this trend was funny years ago, but has since run its course. The commercial wasn’t necessarily bad, but it certainly was subpar and dated. I have better expectations for any commercial, especially for a commercial in the Super Bowl.
5) Avocados from Mexico: “Better”
Avocados from Mexico is a yearly staple in the Super Bowl commercial lineup. This year’s features biblical characters Adam and Eve right after the fall of man. They are given an avocado, which are said to “make everything better.” The commercial was mediocre, but was particularly disappointing coming from a brand with such a strong tradition of good commercials. Many might recall the Avocados from Mexico commercial from a few years ago, where countries are drafting mascots, and the Polar Bear is a hopeful to be drafted by Mexico, years after it first aired. This commercial was nowhere near as unique, memorable, relevant to the game, or entertaining as that one or other previous Avocado commercials, earning it the fifth place spot on our list of worst commercials of the year.
4) Tubi: Interface Interruption
Short and snappy, this commercial for Tubi streaming starts with the Super Bowl LVII logo, and two pundits discussing the game, before cutting to the home page of the TV, and clicking through different channels and shows. The commercial was, perhaps, executed too well, and instead of demonstrating the brand, it made me think I sat on the remote, leading to ten seconds of scrambling to find said remote on the couch before revealing it was a commercial. It was the opposite of entertaining to watch, and created feelings of stress as I thought I was missing the game, and then frustration as I realized what happened.
3) FanDuel: Rob Gronkowski, Kick of Destiny
Sports gambling has made headlines lately as it’s become legal in eight new states, making it legal in 28 states total. FanDuel capitalized on this opportunity with a promotion giving $1,000 winnings to first time users with no risk if they bet on the losing side. To demonstrate, the commercial shows former NFL tight end Rob Gronkowski kicking a field goal, which he makes, before announcing the kick is no good, but that everyone still wins. The commercial was cheesy and poorly done, and at the viewing party I was at, there was a general agreement that the ad was “stupid.”
2) Unknown brand: “Scan Here”
During the first quarter, a commercial aired that was just a QR code, with the text “scan here” and some animated characters standing in front of it, facing away from the camera. This commercial had no brand listed, and upon looking it up, I was unable to decipher who paid for the promotion. The commercial cost seven million dollars, and left viewers with no idea what was being promoted or who was doing the promotion, making it perhaps the biggest failure of a commercial possible.
1) WhatsVMS.com: Women’s menopause
This commercial for women’s menopause isn’t an extraordinary ad on a good day. It features an interviewer in the street asking passer-bys what they know about menopause. However, the timing of the ad is what earned it this spot as the worst commercial of the year – it aired right before kickoff. With any marketing ploy, target audience is perhaps the most important thing to consider. This ad, targeted to middle-aged women, aired at the time and place where the majority of viewers are younger people and men. It was horrifically out of sync with the start of the game, and at the viewing party I was at, the vibe was killed dramatically right before the start of the game when this ad aired.