Best & Worst Super Bowl Commercials of 2023
Last night, millions of people watched the Chiefs and the Eagles duke it out for the Super Bowl title. (For those of you who missed it, the Chiefs won — thanks to a last-minute penalty call.)
While the team at Madison Taylor Marketing has mixed feelings on how the game went down, the one thing we can agree on is that the Super Bowl is one of the best days of the year for marketers. Known for its high viewership rates (and its high-cost commercial ads), the Super Bowl is basically the marketing Olympics.
Super Bowl Ad Cost
With a 30-second spot costing upwards of $7 million dollars, brands who advertised during the Super Bowl came to win — but only a few scored big in the minds and hearts of viewers. Here’s our play-by-play of this year’s Super Bowl commercials – the victories, the fumbles, and everything in between.
Super Bowl Ad Victories
Doritos — Jack’s New Angle
Featuring celebrities Missy Elliot and Elton John, this ad centered around Jack Harlow trying “another angle” by giving up his rap career to become a professional triangle player — inspired, of course, by none other than the iconic triangle shape of Doritos chips. A funny story that didn’t get too cheesy and ended with a twist, this ad was a fan favorite.
Bud Light — Easy to Drink, Easy to Enjoy
Approachable, relatable, cute. Bud Light’s commercial acted as a nice, down-to-earth reminder to viewers about how easy it is to enjoy Bud Light. Featuring Miles Teller and his wife, Keleigh Sperry, dancing to “on-hold” music while enjoying a bottle of Bud Light, this ad capitalized on the couple’s popularity from Top Gun and TikTok, leveraging them as brand influencers.
Tubi — Interface Interruption
Well done, Tubi, well done. During this ad, Tubi made viewers think that someone accidentally changed the channel, showing the tv screen exiting out of the Super Bowl and onto Tubi. It captured viewers’ attention (and made them yell at each other to find the remote), creating a frustrating, memorable – and albeit, clever – experience for its audience. While this commercial took the title as the most viral ad, we wanted just a little more from the 15-second spot which we know is a short amount of time to pack a punch. Maybe Tubi spent most of its budget on its Rabbit Hole commercial,which was humorous yet on the slightly creepy side.
Crowdstrike — Troy
Crowdstrike’s Troy ad featured the familiar scene of a trojan horse attempting to invade a fortress, much like unwanted cybersecurity threats. While the theme of the trojan horse has been done a lot, this ad had perfect product messaging. A great example of how brands can use product messaging to create a memorable commercial.
Dunkin’ ‘Drive-Thru’ Starring Ben
JLo plus Ben Affleck, plus Dunkin’ Donuts? That’s a winning recipe. This ad featured Ben Affleck working the Dunkin’ Donuts drive through. At the end of the commercial, JLo pulled up to order and yelled at Ben — an ending that was particularly funny given the memes that trended after Ben looked like a “bored spouse” at the Grammys.
The Farmer’s Dog — Forever
Good messaging, cute story, relatable. The Farmer’s Dog brought on all the feels, showing a chocolate lab’s life as it grew alongside its owner. With scenes of all of the owner’s life milestones, including college goodbyes, a wedding, pregnancy, and the first morning in a new home, this ad conveyed an entire lifetime in 30 seconds — all while encouraging viewers to take care of their dogs by buying Farmer’s fresh dog food.
Amazon — Saving Sawyer
Expert storytelling, with a plot twist that captured the audience’s attention. In this ad, viewers met Sawyer, a rescue dog who makes a mess everyday while his family is away at work and at school. Sawyer’s family then looked up a dog kennel on Amazon, sending the audience into a spiral of doubt. Thankfully, to our surprise, Sawyer’s family purchased the kennel to take home another dog so Sawyer wouldn’t feel so lonely.
Super Bowl Ad Fumbles
DigiDaigaku Game Day Commercial
This copy cat of last year’s CoinBase Super Bowl commercial was arguably one of the most confusing Super Bowl ads. The entire 30-second commercial featured a QR code for a free collectible, which looked scammy, unapproachable, and untrustworthy. After some research, it turns out that the ad by an NFT powered, web3 gaming company, and for some, the QR code mistakenly linked to the CEO’s Twitter profile instead of the company’s intended location where free NFTs were waiting. While interactive commercials can increase engagement, this ad did very little to convey consumer trust in the product which may hurt given this ad cost $6.5 million dollars.
M&Ms – Ma&yas and They’re Back for Good
Leading up to the Super Bowl, M&Ms generated tons of PR from their announcement that Maya Rudolph would be replacing the brand’s classic “spokescandies” to become the brand’s new spokesperson, with her official debut set to happen in the Super Bowl commercial. This announcement had everyone talking, but likening M&Ms to clams in the first commercial did not land well — even if the second ad announced that the candy mascots were back for good. Marketers were left wanting more after having high hopes for this campaign given the successful lead up.
E*TRADE — Wedding
The babies are back in town — well, in the E*Trade Super Bowl commercials, at least. While viewers were excited to see the babies back as guests at an E*Trade wedding, perhaps this bit may have run its course. As cute as the babies were, this year’s commercial just couldn’t compare to the originals.
GM x Netflix — Why not an EV
What do you get when you mix Will Ferrell, zombies, and kidnapping scenes together? The GM x Netflix commercial. With a mix of different scenes straight out of Netflix shows and movies, the commercial lost sight of its key messaging about this interesting partnership. Having Netflix shows available in an EV Chevy would be great, but this commercial didn’t hit the mark.
Overall, while many of the Super Bowl commercials this year were a hit, the past years haven’t been the same as the good ole days. For the few that fumbled, we’re hoping that next year will be better than ever. In the meantime, the team at Madison Taylor Marketing has a few other slightly related notes we couldn’t leave out of our Super Bowl analysis:
- We miss the Budweiser clydesdales.
- Chris Stapleton’s performance of the national anthem was top-tier.
- We knew Nick Sirianni (the Eagles coach) crying would become a meme.
- And congratulations to Rihanna. Performing at the superbowl halftime, incorporating a Fenty product, and being pregnant is no small feat. Her dancers also did an incredible job – and the stage looked like a scene from Super Mario Smash Bros.