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There are a lot of lists of “The Best SuperBowl Ads of 2022”, from NY Post to Rolling Stone to People Magazine, but they all seem a mixed bag of laugh and cringe and WTAF?! The biggest issue is that it appears many brands are trying to out-SuperBowl each other rather than make sure the money they’re spending is worth it.

This year’s cavalcade includes many examples where the celebrity star-power detracts from the idea, rather than adds to it, or at the very least tries to save a bad idea but fails.

There are a few examples where the ad agency convinced the client now was the time to resurrect a decades-old character. While audiences may have loved Dr Evil or the Cable Guy in the late 90s, are they still relevant a quarter of a century later?

Admittedly, I laughed at Jim Carey’s reprisal for Verizon and give the agency kudos for living up to the character while delivering a long shopping list of product features and benefits. But I wonder if GM could have found another way to tell their story without Mike Myer’s 25-year old pisstake of 55-year old Bondian villianry (even if Seth Green is the charmingly likeable glue)?

And lastly, when will brands and agencies learn that professional athletes can’t act? Yes, it’s the SuperBowl. Yes, former and current footballers are hyper-relevant to the media and audience. But don’t try to make them do things they can’t. An ad needs to carefully construct a scenario in which they are the joke. Not have them try to tell the joke.

With that general wrap-up of this year’s big budget bonanza, here’s my Top Ten:

10. ‘Pangea’ for Turkish Airlines, feat. Morgan Freeman.

Who doesn’t love the Freeman? With a voice like warm honey, I want him to deliver my eulogy (before I die so I can enjoy it). This ad leverages an insight, a truth, and delivers it with inspiring special effects… and the treacle tones of the narrator. If it had been for an airline that ranked in the top 20 for safety, like Etihad, Singapore, Qantas or 17 others, it’d make me book a ticket. For an airline that ranks 35 at best, I'm not surprised they didn't actually take this living legend up for a flight to film the ad. But it's a spot that should make the better airlines envious.


9. ‘Brothers’ for Toyota, feat. Brian and Robin McKeever

Proof that SuperBowl doesn’t always have to be comedy, Hollywood talent, million-dollar special effects or football, this spot heroes the heart-warming and inspiring true story of Paralympic Canadian brothers who have won more medals than any of these commercials ever could. This is a tribute to determination, hope and brotherly love that stands out amongst all the SuperBowl faff to deliver a message we could all use of late.


8. ‘Sam’s Club VIP’ for Sam’s Club feat. Kevin Hart

While unimaginatively titled, this spot nails the rule of ‘just let the star do what they do that makes us love them so much’, supported by the star in question ensuring they do the brand justice by delivering a litany of product messaging without skipping a beat or breaking the first rule. And it’s Kevin Hart. The dude is funny for just existing, even without his buddy comedy partner, Dwayne.


7. ‘Stuff’ for Expedia, feat. Ewan McGregor

Probably not on the list for most people, this is more like a conventional ad construct but with the budget to afford the media spot and a young Obi-Wan Kenobi. What struck me was the genuine insight that actually made me question my life choices (or maybe that’s just the place I’m in). The message resonated through authenticity, which is often lacking among Big Game ads. And made all the more poignant when you remind yourself, “He’s a wise jedi master who used to be besties with Vader. He must know.”


6. ‘Stuck’ for Pringles, feat. no-one

Yes, my first Top Ten that doesn’t rely on celebrity power. This is storytelling at its finest, starting with the genuine human truth we’ve all encountered in getting to that last Pringle, and taking us on a lifelong journey with all the highs and lows, only to become a circular story that will never end. Any client who says, “yeah, let’s have the main character die in our ad because that shit’s funny” deserves a medal.


5. ‘Feed the Debate’ for Planters, feat. Ken Jeong and Joel McHale

While this spot has two famously talented actors, the key for Planters was in asking them to pretty much be themselves. One can only imagine the riffing that sadly hit the cutting room floor. But in terms of advertising, it not only draws upon a cracking insight on both product AND consumer, it creates a debate in the real world that will last much longer than the football game in which the ad appeared just once. Even just talking about this ad with my wife, I was horrified to discover she’s a ‘one-nutter’ (a term that should see whoever coined it hoisted upon a throne) and now I need a divorce. Thanks Ken and Joel, you utter bastards.


4. ‘Welcome to Irish Spring’ for Irish Spring, feat. a weird-ass cult

With weirdness like this, you don’t need star power. That’s all I can say about the bulk of the ad, but it’s the tagline that absolutely brings it home. In a world (especially during the ‘Bowl) when every brand is trying to be worthy and show purpose, bandying meaningful words like some modern day Socrates, Irish Spring just says it like it is. Yes, I do indeed want to smell from a nice-smelling place. Fucking genius in six words.


3. ‘Golden Memories’ for Lays, feat. Seth Rogan and Paul Rudd

I was inclined to drop this one lower on my list because the final scene felt like they played their hand too hard at the end which lost the wit and charm of the first 48 seconds. But it’s Seth and Paul, and I just couldn’t do it to them. And that first 80% is comedy gold, all the while ensuring the product is front and centre, even getting smashed for the fun of it. For the record, I want to be Paul Rudd. My wife says he is the perfect man. And given that she’s a one-nutter, I need this.


2. ‘Uber Don’t Eats’ for Uber Eats, feat. everyone, especially Jennifer Coolidge

So Uber dropped a bomb on this one with comedy character queen Jennifer Coolidge, Nicholas Braun, Trevor Noah and Gwyneth Paltrow eating her own candle that smells like her own vagina. While it keeps the laughs going throughout, including some of the fine-print disclaimers at the bottom of screen, it opens with the line of the year from Jennifer. But on a strategic level, it’s leaning heavily on the proposition of Uber Eats only to break that very proposition, which will make it even more salient to consumers. Oh, and Gwyneth eats her own candle that smells like her own vagina. Look it up.


1. ‘Don’t Miss Out’ for FTX, feat. Larry David

While I appreciate that not many will agree with my Top Ten, I won’t tolerate any disagreement on this spot. This is No.1. And if you disagree, you’re a moron who probably eats your Planters mixed nuts one at a time. Larry David has never been a great actor, nor even a middling one for that matter. But he does a great impression of Larry David. The best in the business. And that’s what they tapped into for this cryptocurrency ad (one of many this year, and the only good one amongst them). The story keeps us so engaged on a journey through historic moments we all know and understand, laughing all the way, that even if we don’t know what the product or service is, we can smell the pay-off coming from a mile away… but most importantly, we don’t care. We can predict the ending, but that’s OK. Because Larry carries it through and we need to see the end. Personally, I would have preferred Larry to shrug a meh, but this is SuperBowl ad of the year. Touch down.

Note: I did not mention the spot for Prime Video's upcoming 'The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power' because that did not need to be a SuperBowl spot at all. It's LOTFR. We're gonna watch that even if you had hand drawn an ad on toilet paper with a gonorrhea pen.


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