Ad people watch the Super Bowl differently. It’s just a fact. Sure, we care about the game (some years more than others), but we’re truly interested in what happens during the breaks. We’re the ones hushing chatty people, offering witty ad-isms about production budgets or techniques, and generally annoying other watch partiers.
So instead of just sharing our hot takes on the champion and loser spots, this year, we thought we’d include takes from the people whose opinions, if we’re honest, really matter: the consumers.
Some of the pack were able to convince their SO’s, children, friends, and family who aren’t in the ad biz to watch the game with their favorite ad-freak, and share their non-biased opinions. So compare our hot takes with how the real world viewed the game that takes place in between whistle blows.
JIM GREEN, GROUP CREATIVE DIRECTOR
FAVORITE: Crown Royal “Thanks Canada”
From the intriguing teaser to the Super Bowl payoff, this was one of my favorites, and not just because Dave Grohl is my rock hero (although that helped). Love all the randomness and greatness that Dave thanks Canada for. And I love that they didn’t feel the need to infuse the product throughout; just a simple sign off and a nod to the iconic purple bag. It could only have been better if Dave himself were from Canada, but I’m willing to overlook that.
JIM’S DAUGHTER CAROLINE (Age 12)
FAVORITE: Pepsi Zero Sugar “Great Acting Or Great Taste”
Even though I don’t know the actor in the commercial, I thought all the scenes were really funny. We laughed all the way through the commercial. And I loved the ending joke where he said, “Or was I just acting?”
JIM’S LEAST FAVORITE: Avocados from Mexico “Make It Better”
Avocados from Mexico has set a high bar with its Super Bowl ads, and maybe that’s what disappointed me the most. It was so confusing in so many ways. Why are Adam and Eve suddenly in modern-day NYC? Or is Lady Liberty in the Garden of Eden? And the production seemed like an afterthought, from the fake Manhattan scene to the one second of mediocre food imagery. After watching this spot, I wouldn’t say avocados make EVERYTHING better.
CAROLINE’S LEAST FAVORITE: Sun West Mortgage Company “The Making Of Morgan”
Not really sure what this commercial was even about—it did not draw me in at all. The voice was boring and monotonous and it was not entertaining or funny in any way. I can’t believe they spent that much money for a Super Bowl commercial.
KATIE ELLIS, MEDIA MARKET SPECIALIST
FAVORITE: Farmer’s Dog “Forever”
This spot is an obvious tug on the heartstrings tear-jerker, but what really got me here was the transition for this advertiser to go from a heavy social/influencer strategy to high profile, brand awareness placement. The number of brands that can go from relying heavily on a hyper-targeted digital media mix to the Super Bowl are few and far between.
HER HUSBAND, BRENT
FAVORITE: Sam Adams “Brighter Boston”
This one was funny without trying too hard to be funny. The irony of nice, polite Bostonians was done just right.
KATIE’S LEAST FAVORITE: Budweiser “Six Degrees”
We deserve better. We demand better. I don’t need for Budweiser to tell me how relatable they are in the most obvious way possible, I need for them to make me cry because of how American I feel.
BRENT’S LEAST FAVORITE: M&Ms “Maya”
I didn’t get it. It was weird and felt out of place. What do clams have to do with anything?
CAROLINE DYE, DIGITAL MARKETING MANAGER
FAVORITE: Hellmann’s “Who’s in the Fridge”
Loved the play on John Hamm and Brie Larson’s names; one of the first commercials to make me laugh. Brie and Hamm in the fridge with all the other leftovers and then the culturally relevant appearance by Pete Davidson at the end. Simple and focused on the product and how it can elevate leftovers.
HER HUSBAND, SCOTT
FAVORITE: Bud Light “On Hold”
This was funny because of how relatable it was. Everyone has been placed on hold for a long time, whether with your energy company or some other understaffed customer service department. If the hold music is good, it’s easy to catch yourself bopping along with the music. I have definitely gone into full dance mode for hold music that has been particularly good, and what better way to pass the time on hold than cracking open a beer (though likely not Bud Light).
CAROLINE’S LEAST FAVORITE: Booking.com “Somewhere, Anywhere”
I honestly found this commercial to be very annoying. I don’t love a singing commercial and tuned it out after the first few seconds. I love Melissa McCarthy and feel like they could have played more into her humor and comedy rather than have her sing.
SCOTT’S LEAST FAVORITE: M&Ms “Maya”
There was backlash on the gender identity of M&M spokescandies, and that was mainly what this ad was poking fun at. However, if you were not aware of the backlash to begin with, this made no sense. Even if you knew the backstory behind the ad, it still didn’t really make much sense, nor was it enjoyable or relatable in any way. Maya Rudolph also isn’t funny (in this ad or otherwise).
ERIC BRULE, ASSOCIATE CREATIVE DIRECTOR
FAVORITE: Pop Corners “Breaking Good”
The Breaking Bad references were well done and tied in well with the product benefit. And when you reunite this cast with their brilliant series writer/director, you get magic.
HIS MOM, LINDA BRULE
FAVORITE: KIA “Binky Dad”
She loved the fun, over-the-top take on a situation that every parent has experienced. It also showed the vehicle as a powerful, safe, and fun choice.
ERIC’S LEAST FAVORITE: Doritos “Jack’s New Angle”
While it had solid humor, the concept didn’t tie back to the new flavor, but focused on Harlow trying something new which was the triangle shape, which isn’t new.
LINDA’S LEAST FAVORITE: e.l.f. “eyes.lips.face.sticky.”
She is not a fan of Jennifer Coolidge so that ruined the humor for her and the stickiness of the product is not an appealing feature. “It was gross, why would you put that on your face?”
STEPHANIE KNIGHT, SOCIAL MEDIA MANAGER AND HER HUSBAND, JAKE
FAVORITES: Farmers Dog “Forever” and Downy “Downy McBride”
I loved the Farmers Dog commercial (cue tears!). It was unexpected because I’d never heard of the brand. The whole thing was so sweet and was so relatable (my dog is pretty old right now). Jake chose Downy McBride because he loves Danny McBride so much. It made me giggle!
THEIR LEAST FAVORITE: M&Ms “Maya”
I didn’t understand why they made her M&Ms “clams” and it didn’t tie into all the drama with getting rid of the purple M&M, which is a whole other issue on its own.
SARAH SAVULICH, DIGITAL ACCOUNT DIRECTOR
FAVORITE: Pop Corners “Breaking Good” HONORABLE MENTION: GM + Netflix “Why not an EV?”
Pop Corners was nostalgia done right! (I’m looking at you, Rakuten…) And maybe not totally nostalgia since it was just 10 years ago but bringing the Breaking Bad duo back together in a truly funny spot without falling into the “cringe” trap? Amazing. Honorable mention for GM + Netflix. Funny, relevant and just cheesy enough. Netflix and GM took an important message for the company and communicated in an incredibly entertaining yet informative way.
HER HUSBAND, KEN
FAVORITE: T-Mobile “Bradley Cooper and His Mom”
I thought the banter between Bradley Cooper and his mom was funny, and their relationship came across very genuine and relatable. They did a good job of talking about T-Mobile enough that you knew who the ad was for, but kept it light and funny to make it enjoyable to watch.
SARAH’S LEAST FAVORITE: E-Trade “Baby Wedding”
I had a hard time choosing between the weird M&Ms narrative that’s happening (which thankfully, somehow hasn’t tainted my love for Maya Rudolph) and the E-Trade babies but ultimately went with E-Trade here because at least M&Ms is TRYING something different.
KEN’S LEAST FAVORITE: Limit Break “Free Mint”
Showing me a QR code and saying “Scan Now” without really bothering to tell me why I should do so (only for it to end up being for a crypto/NFT-related product) wasn’t very appealing to me. The whole commercial just gave me the same vibes as any of those generic free mobile games that try to lure you in and get you to buy into their microtransactions.