A Blinker’s perspective on this year’s Super Bowl ads

-Mark Dello Stritto, Vice President of Creative

My team asked me to share my thoughts about this year’s Super Bowl spots. I obliged, of course, but discussing Super Bowl ads has always been a little tricky for me.

Over my nearly 30 year career, I’ve been asked to contribute to articles, sit on panels, participate in Zooms, and discuss with students – what makes a good Super Bowl spot?

Firstly: TV commercials are art and art is subjective. How we feel about a particular brand is subjective as well. So much of what makes a good Super Bowl spot is based on our own opinion.

Secondly: I’ve produced one commercial that debuted during the Super Bowl and it was during the designated airtime for local and regional businesses. It was an animated :30 for a bus company who was proud to be celebrating its 100th year in business. It was fine for the times, fine for the market and fine for the budget, but not what we know a Super Bowl commercial to be.

So back to why I find it a little tricky for me to critique these national spots – who am I to dissect and comment on the big national brands and huge agency work that we all talk about the day after the big game? Well, I was asked to share my faves as a consumer – like you. I just happen to work in advertising.

The New York Times reports that, “for the second consecutive year, the average cost of a 30-second ad spot during the Super Bowl is $7 million.”

7 million dollars for a 30-second TV commercial to air. That’s nearing $250,000 a second. I think. I’m terrible at math.

And those numbers are only the cost of the media placement – just to broadcast it live. So what does it cost to create and produce the spots you watch during the game? Those numbers are most likely no less than a million or so per commercial to strategize, conceptualize and produce. Maybe a client was lucky enough to pay half of that for their production.

Those are big numbers for big brands and big spots during the big game.

So with that, little ol’ me is going to tell you which ones I like the most.

Reese’s – Watch

I completely understand if you said to me that you thought this spot was “dumb.” But it’s supposed to be dumb, and boy, does it meet me where I’m at.

Reeses is announcing a “big change” to their Peanut Butter Cups and a group of super-diverse Super Bowl-watching friends and family begin to lose their minds because of the change to their beloved Peanut Butter Cups.

From a woman jumping through a window to a golden-ager doing her best Jimmy the Superfly Snuka onto a coffee table, it’s complete chaos and nonsense and I love it.

Plus, Will Arnett continues the voice over for Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, which is perfectly-dumb in and of itself.

Kawasaki – Watch

It would have been awesome to have been part of the brainstorming session when someone shared this idea. The room was likely cracking up for about an hour straight.

The Kawasaki Ridge is a pretty badass side x side. The brand is positioning this vehicle as “where rugged performance and premium comfort combine.” With an industry-leading cab design and multifunctional and rugged bed, it’s only natural that the title of this campaign is “Business in the front. Party in the back.”

Two buddies magically grow mullets as soon as they fire up the Ridge and their day of getting shit done just got a lot cooler.

Dove – Watch

Men, who are the primary audience during the Super Bowl, may be joined with millions of new women and girls watching this year’s game.

Thanks to what is now widely-known as the “Taylor Swift Effect”, the NFL is predicting this year’s viewership will be record-breaking thanks to a “50% increase in viewership among 12-17-year-old girls” particularly across Gen Z and millennial women, says Neilson.

With a captured male audience, particularly dads in this case, and with millions more moms and young girls watching the game, Dove is leveraging this opportunity to have a serious conversation.

With “It’s A Hard Knock Life” from Annie playing underneath, Dove focuses their message on boosting self-esteem and body confidence in girls, and encourages them to stay active in the sports they love.

As a dad of a 16 year old “Swifty” daughter, this spot punched me in my gut. I hope it resonates with the millions of men and women who watched the game and gives us a swift kick in the butt to encourage our girls to stay in the game on and off the field.

Uber Eats – Watch

With a star studded cast starring Jennifer Aniston and David Schwimmer, it’s hard not to smile while watching this commercial.

The joke begins with a crew member handing over Aniston’s Uber Eats order to her as she says she “didn’t know you can get all of this stuff on Uber Eats. I got to remember that.”

Aniston’s opening line,”In order to remember something, you gotta forget something else.” carries us through the many funny and forgetful moments within the spot.

It’s a cute idea, but it’s the non-A list talent who collectively land the joke in better ways.

Although the little dig at Courteney Cox at the end is a perfect little bow to wrap up the idea.

Lindt – Watch

The main reason I like this whimsical spot is because Lindt finally moved on from those creepy, chocolate-porn shots that they’ve been repurposing for years. This refreshing creative is a total 180.

It’s a nice mix of motion graphics and colorful environmental shots carried through to the music of Perry Como’s “Round and Round.”

The only fumble for me is their closing line, “Life is a Ball with Lindt.” The first time I heard it, it sounded like “Life is a ball of lint.” That might be a stretch, but that’s what I legitimately heard.

It’s a fun, feel-good ad that moves the brand in the right creative direction.

Two teaser spots that I felt were better than any main :30 commercial:

Squarespace – Watch

This spot stars Martin Scorsese and his daughter Francesca, who give smart, funny and authentic performances together.

Martin is working through a story idea about a website (the main character) but he doesn’t know what a website is. “I need to sort of get inside the sense of what a website is. It’s almost as if I have to create one.” Hint.

It’s a marvelously-crafted and executed idea that makes me want to give Squarespace my money in hopes that it reaches the Scorsese family.

The idea is simple – Squarespace is so easy to use, your pops can do it.

However, the main :30 spot, while connected to the teaser, was a let down for me. I wanted a continuation of the story behind the story with Marin and Francesca.

Clueless people glued to their phones while aliens visit our planet? They’re only snapped out of their zombie-like state because Scorsese’s Squarespace website pops up in their feed?

OK, fine.

Paramount+ – Watch

An absolutely ridiculous commercial. Celebrities and cartoons who stream through Paramount+, join on what looks to have been an epic journey together only to arrive at a final obstacle on Paramount Mountain.

There is so much absurdity in this teaser spot that I’m not sure there is a way to explain it other than simply saying – Sir Patrick Stuart, Peppa Pig, Tua Tagovailoa and Creed.

While the “reveal” spot during the game is a nice continuation of the teaser, it’s the teaser for the win.

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