Since the 70s, the Super Bowl has long been associated with big-budget commercial breaks, and many viewers eagerly anticipate the commercials over the actual game.
In terms of competition for “best commercial”, it’s hardly ever a contest. The big brands with multi-million-dollar budgets deliver engaging, celebrity-ridden spots with limited goals: to make you laugh and increase awareness for their brand without much regard for results. And typically, that isn’t even the goal (pun intended).
However, as performance marketers, we view the Super Bowl commercials in a whole different way. To us, advertising is for creatively acquiring customers at the most efficient cost possible. So, with a price tag of $6 million for one 30-second game day spot, up 9.1% from 2021, that’s no easy feat. Other than efficiency, it’s about precise audience targeting. With 184.5 million adults planning to watch the Super Bowl this year, appealing to a large target demographic with a single commercial can be a challenge.
Since that’s such a tall order, it’s only fitting that we show some love to those MVP brands who were able to skillfully do both—entertain and inform us, the average Joe or Jane Q. Football Fan.
Brands that made the top plays in Super Bowl 2022
Aside from Jim Carrey’s “Cable Guy” reprise, Verizon hit the mark this year in a 60-second ad promoting their 5G in-home and business services. Verizon’s name, logo and products were mentioned consistently throughout the ad, and the hilarious banter between Carrey and the homeowner outlined all the benefits of 5G wireless internet while addressing the typical issues of cable (contracts, fees, cables, installation). The ad finishes off with clear messaging and call-to-action.
According to Tripadvisor, 71% of Americans are planning to travel for leisure in 2022, up 8% from 2019. Expedia’s “Stuff” ad appealed to that audience, with meaningful, relatable messaging for a post-pandemic world: experiences are greater than things. Though it had no outright call-to-action and didn’t show the brand until the last few seconds, the messaging appeals to a huge audience in an addressable market, making it a true performance spot.
With their product and logo front and center, Tennis Champion Serena Williams uses Tonal’s wall mounted at-home gym throughout the commercial, displaying a 360-degree view of the versatility and capabilities of the product. The ad could have had a stronger call-to-action, but the demonstration and voiceover by the iconic Williams is more than enough to engage consumers.
A favorite of ours in 2021, WeatherTech delivered a stellar performance marketing ad again this year. Logo and brand consistency was abundant in every second of this ad. They outlined every one of their products in about 5 seconds and finished out the ad with a URL, indicating how consumers could learn more about their product and services.
Half Time Showdown
Carvana VS. Vroom – In the vast sea of car commercials this year, Carvana and Vroom stood out. At first glance, nothing particularly differentiates these two as they’re both about making owning a car less painful by eliminating the pain points of car buying and selling. Carvana did an excellent job of mentioning the brand immediately, but with the mother incessantly babbling about the benefits of using their service, we stopped listening after a while. On the other hand, though Vroom didn’t reference their brand until the end of the spot, they physically demonstrated the relief that their service provides by eliminating the pain points of selling a car. With a stronger call to action at the end, Vroom comes out on top of this head-to-head.
Brands that fumbled this year
Booking.com promoted themselves with self-deprecating messaging: “nope, we’re not great at branding but we’re good at booking things” messaging. Though their logo was featured on Idris Elba’s clothing throughout the ad, had Booking.com provided a quick blurb on why you should pick them over the competition, it might have been on our “top plays” list this year, especially considering the sizable potential audience interested in travel in 2022.
Project management software start-up, ClickUp, ran an ad that featured the founding fathers working to find the latest version of the Declaration of Independence. With no obvious differentiator to other project management software brands (and there are many) or call to action, it read more like an SNL skit than an ad. According to ClickUp’s chief creative officer, Melissa Rosenthal, they produced it without an agency. It shows.
Greenlight doesn’t exactly get its point across until the voiceover at the very, very last frame of the ad. Even then, the ad messaging and call-to-action are muddy at best. For a brand with little brand recognition, there was far too much mystery around the brand, and Ty Burrell, while funny, didn’t help explain that this was a debit card for kids.
There’s so much to say about Meta, but we’ll get right to the point: A little less nostalgia and a bit more information would have a gone a long way. The ad demonstrated their peripheral headset in action, but with only passive brand and logo identification halfway through the ad. Also geez, thanks for that 40-second cryfest at the outset as the pseudo-Shobiz robot nearly got crushed at the scrapyard.
In summary, the big game was full of big surprises, big cameos, and a big, fantastic half-time show, so there’s more potential in 2023 for brands to do it even bigger...and better.