As we round the second year of a pandemic that won’t go away and wonder if and when things will ever get back to normal, rest assured of one thing: when it comes to this year’s Super Bowl ads – big is still big.
The number of celebrities and personalities is staggering. From Idris Elba to The Governator, literally everybody who is anybody is featured in some form in this year’s spots. And after seeing the tonality swing so heavily to the emotional last year, humor is back in a major way this year. In some regards, this feels like a throwback to the heyday of Super Bowl advertising.
The Budweiser Clydesdales are back. The Old Spice guy – he’s back. The World’s Most Interesting Man … back. We already mentioned Arnold Schwarzenegger. And to fill out that list of celebs; enough retired athletes to fill a bus. (Wait – that’s happened.) Check out PepsiCo’s spot where both Mannings, Jerome Bettis, Victor Cruz and Terry Bradshaw hit the road to SoFi Stadium. Hey, it’s fun. Watching this year’s spots, that’s the biggest feeling I get – after a couple years of being cooped up and losing our minds, we all just need a bit of fun.
Throwback aside, this year’s ads also perform the job of creatively pointing us to the future.
One where everyone is present, seen and acknowledged. People of color everywhere – yes! Chloe Zhao directed the reintroduction of the Budweiser Clydesdales – what! Gray-haired folks strut. Body types of all kinds proudly defy old notions of beauty. Love has no boundaries. Style and expression of culture abound. I love it. One of my favorite pieces, though it debuted before the 13th, is the Toyota spot featuring TikTok sensation Aubrey Fisher where flawless choreography communicates the vehicle’s seamless place in young people’s daily lives.
We see a future where it’s not so much about the vehicle rather than what fuels it.
It appears that electric is here to stay as captured by Wallbox and BMW spots.
We also see a future where traditional business models are challenged. Rakuten, Vroom, Carvana and Crypto put digital currency and online purchasing front and center in new ways. And Snoop and Martha’s odd chemistry hock a new Bic lighter that pokes at the ever-growing reality of recreational cannabis. Let’s not forget about the latest guest to the party – sports betting. It’s on in 2022.
Compared to the past few years where it seemed the field was thinning – this year looks abundant for big ad entertainment. And no Super Bowl would be worth its weight without a couple oddball additions of anthropomorphic animals and – wait for it – a guy riding a buffalo wing.
So, my take-away? Big is still big. The best is on display from old players and new. And if you ask yourself ̶ is it worth the investment, then maybe you should also ask is it worth it to pass it up?
Happy 2022. Go big!
About the Author
Mark Graham is a creative director at Bader Rutter with 20 years of advertising and marketing experience. Throughout Mark’s career he’s held critical leadership positions in a wide variety of agency environments, from general to multicultural. Mark has a thirst for continual learning and taking advantage of every new opportunity.
He’s led brand work across many categories but some of his food and beverage highlights include Bush’s Beans, Perdue Chicken, Babybel Cheese, Coors Light, Miller Lite and McDonald’s.
As a graduate of the Portfolio Center – Miami Ad School in Atlanta, Mark continues to cultivate a deep love for craftsmanship, intelligent problem solving and developing engaging creative across all channels from traditional to digital to experiential.