Ah, Super Bowl Sunday. One of the most highly anticipated events of the year celebrated for being a uniquely American tradition drawing together viewers of all demographics from across the country. An impressive 113 million viewers, in fact, the third largest television program and highest digital viewership (7 million, talk about super-sized streaming) in history. For sports enthusiasts, it was a day to watch the Chiefs and Eagles play their hearts out for the Lombardi trophy. For Rihanna fans, it was an opportunity to enjoy a long-awaited concert from the couch. For marketing geeks, it was the night we got to see just what advertisers had paid the big bucks for — and this year, we mean big.
No matter the reason for tuning in on Sunday, the days that follow the Super Bowl are always full of discussion. Now, we’re not here to debate that holding call or relive that big half-time performance announcement. Instead, we’re taking a look at some of the main themes and most memorable moments of the Super Bowl 2023 commercials.
Lighthearted Tones & Humor
In contrast to previous years, a fun and amusing tone seemed to be the overwhelmingly popular choice for the commercials of Super Bowl 2023. This isn’t entirely surprising, given some of the current challenges facing the country and the heavy news cycle society has been stuck in lately. It seems that advertisers this year wanted to give people an escape, aiming to keep things light and get viewers laughing. As with any year, some spots tried- but failed- to nail the bit while others were clear, feel-good standouts. Our favorites? Miles Teller in Bud Light’s ‘Hold’ commercial, Ben Affleck working the Dunkin’ Drive Thru, NFL’s Run With It, and Bradley Cooper and his mom trying to make a T-Mobile commercial.
Nostalgia has been a popular marketing tactic in recent years and if Super Bowl 2023’s ads are any indication, that doesn’t show signs of stopping. Several brands were willing to bet millions that nostalgia would continue to land with consumers, as tributes to classic movies, iconic TV shows, and music legends from throughout the decades made their way onto our TV screens. Alicia Silverstone returned to her role as Cher Horowitz from the movie ’Clueless’ for a Rakuten cashback promo, Serena Williams and Brian Cox starred in a ’Caddyshack’ spoof for Michelob Ultra, and John Travolta sang a rendition of “Summer Nights” for T-Mobile’s 5G Internet service over 40 years after ‘Grease’ first hit theaters. A Workday commercial featured rockstars like Ozzy Osbourne, Gary Clark Jr., Joan Jett, Billy Idol, and Paul Stanley, an Uber commercial with P. Diddy took us down one-hit-wonder memory lane, and a throwback to more recent history, PopCorners put out a spot incorporating the cult classic show ‘Breaking Bad’.
One of the more unexpected moves we saw on Super Bowl Sunday was big-name brands teaming up for joint commercials. Will Ferrell walked through (literally) several of Netflix’s most popular original movies and shows in a commercial promoting both the entertainment giant and GM’s EVs. Beer brands also got in on the mix, with Bud Light doing a crossover with HBO’s ‘Game of Thrones’ and Molson Coors promoting not one, not two, but three of their beers all in one entertaining spot that kept viewers on their toes.
Puppies > Celebs
We’d be remiss not to include this one. Much like many years passed, a large majority of Super Bowl commercials this year were jam-packed with celebrities, with advertisers like DraftKings and the others already listed above opting for a star-studded approach. However, not even female rap legend Missy Elliot or Gen Z heartthrob Jack Harlow could capture America’s attention quite like dogs could. According to the Wall Street Journal, two of the clear fan-favorite ads of the night were Amazon’s funny and all too relatable story about a family dog adjusting to post-pandemic life, and The Farmer’s Dog commercial that had pet lovers across America melting (if not crying). The lesson here? A cute dog will trump celebrities every time.
While we can’t promise to steal the hearts of potential customers with an adorable puppy, Bluetext is no stranger to incorporating animals into brand activations that make people stop in their tracks (see our BigBear.ai work here), creating bold campaigns that grab the attention of consumers (see our Varonis work here), or producing playful ads that strike a chord with your target audience (see our Thing Tamer work here).
As a full-service digital marketing agency based in Washington, D.C., and specializing in everything from video creative direction and production to paid media planning and go-to-market campaigns, Bluetext is here for your every advertising need. Added bonus: there’s no $7 million price tag attached.