While many Super Bowl fans were on the edge of their seats on Sunday night as the Los Angeles Rams eked out a victory against the Cincinnati Bengals, the PR and advertising folks in the room also were waiting for the ad of the night. Sadly, while none of the ads were legendary, there were a few worth discussing. We’ve asked everyone at Novitas to come up with their favorite ad.
First, let me just say that I saw several ads that were trying to cram too much into 60 seconds. I had no idea what some of these ads were trying to say. In particular, I didn’t understand the stuffed animal (Meta’s Quest 2) VR goggles ad, which I pointed out to my husband (who was watching the Super Bowl for the football – WHAT?), who said, “I guess we’re not the target market” – wise words from a finance guy. Then, my eight-year-old son piped up with, “I want VR goggles.” So, there you go?
On the other end of the spectrum was the Coinbase QR Code ad. Many in the comms space cheered its simplicity – and it clearly achieved the objective as it crashed the Coinbase app. I didn’t love it.
I loved the Rocket Mortgage Barbie Dream (Nightmare?) House ad. House Flipper Skipper made me laugh out loud. He-Man, Skeletor, and Barbie – it was the stuff of Gen Xers’ childhood dreams. Similarly, the half-time show was a throwback to my college days. It felt like this Super Bowl was dedicated to me (Meta’s VR ad aside), and I loved it.
Two ads stood out to me. First, Rocket Mortgage Barbie Dream House. Not only was it very funny, it was poignant for Millennials who are struggling in the housing market right now. Using familiar toys from our childhood – Barbie and the added bonus of He-man and Skeletor – definitely hit its target market.
Second, the Coinbase bouncing QR code. Although it was nothing special, it was a clever way to hook people. I wanted to know what the heck the code was for and scanned it. I was disappointed when bitcoins showed up – I do not understand them – but it was interactive, so I’ll give them that. The actual ad was also a great Office reference, which may have been why I was disappointed, too. I was hoping to see something involving one of my favorite TV shows.
I loved the Doritos ad with the forest animals going crazy for Flaming Hot chips & Cheetos. Especially the sloths zooming up the tree after they ate – great play on nature, and it was fun!
My favorite super bowl ad was Lindsay Lohan for Planet Fitness. She was a great fit because of her ability to acknowledge and make fun of her past self and habits. While many companies nowadays use celebrity spokespeople, they aren’t always relevant picks for the brand. The creative for Planet Fitness was well thought out and leveraged Lohan in a meaningful way by bringing her into the health and wellness space.
My favorite commercial from Super Bowl 56 was Lebron James’ ad for Crypto.com, in which he speaks to his CGI-generated younger self about the future. Young Lebron looks apprehensively at a newspaper profile of his budding career, asking: “Is the hype too much? Am I ready?”
In an interview with Dorothy Parker, a columnist for the New Yorker, Ernest Hemingway famously defined courage as ‘grace under pressure.’ I’ve always loved that quote, and I think few public figures manifest it as wholly as Lebron James. For years, young athletes’ careers have been crushed by the pressure of expectations. As a high school student, Lebron faced unprecedented expectations – not just from the national media, but from his friends and family, who depended on his physical gifts to lift them from generational poverty. Lebron has made mistakes, but his multi-decade commitment to his craft, his community and his fans has always made him, in my eyes, worthy of enormous admiration. Nineteen years later, we know the hype wasn’t too much, and we know that an 18-year-old Lebron was ready to bear it. The commercial gave me reason to reflect on a life and career that has served as a powerful example for me – and many like me – of grace under pressure.