An Analysis of Super Bowl LVI's Ad Spots With Key Lessons For Digital Marketers

Research
February 18, 2022

What can the world of digital media glean from TV's biggest night of ads? Lots, strap in!

Super Bowl LVI may have been an emotional rollercoaster for Bangles and Rams fans alike, but the nail-biting football game wasn’t the only focal point of the evening.

Bizjournal reported that, in 2022, more than 40% of Super Bowl viewers tuned in specifically for the advertisements, not the actual gameplay. 50% of the respondents in this same research added they then “purchased the product or service.” With that in mind, let’s discuss some of the 2022 highlights, and what the key learnings mean for your brand.

One of the most heated debates of the evening revolved around Coinbase’s 60-second ad that only featured a bouncing, color-changing QR code. The “USA Today Ad Meter” heavily criticized the spot, while AdAge, Adweek, and many other publications praised it. With the average cost of a 30-second Super Bowl commercial in 2022 being at about $6.5 million, you could say Coinbase spent an arm and a leg on the placement. Taylor Holiday, Common Thread Collective, outlined the necessity for a positive ROI.

Ultimately, the ad drove more than 20 million visits to the company website in the first minute, and after the first two minutes the website was so overloaded its functionality broke. That looks to me like quite a win for Coinbase. But what does this teach us in the social media marketing world? The main takeaway I see is that taking a big risk on a "less-is-more" creative strategy can pay dividends when it makes you stick out from your competition. Sometimes, just delivering a crystal clear ask without the frills of a multi-million dollar creative campaign can be the most effective path forward.

Other than Coinbase, the general opinions on the ad spots were similar. The Rocket Morgage – Dream House, and Lay’s–Golden Moments were the most praised. (P.S. Did anyone spot the StockX cameo in the Rocket Morgage spot? I think it was a genius use of collaboration and rewarding the fans who were watching closely) 

EV had two standouts: BMW's – Zeus & Hera included brilliant comedic timing with a star studded casting, while Kia's – Robo Dog tugged at our heartstrings. Kia also used their ad to enter Web3, as they opened an auction for six unique Robo Dog NFTs on Sweet.io. As per their press release, this is just the start of a more extensive campaign. I am glad to see some of the brands who participated in the ad spots were also willing to use the platform to push Web3 related projects, I can't think of a better place to bring the next phase of how we relate to one another than the world's biggest ad stage.

The Pepsi Halftime Ultra Pass Experience was another one of my favorite moments from the night. Viewers could download an app to immerse themselves in the production. The experience included a 360-degree close-up camera, AR technology, and backstage footage. An incredible way to elevate an already unbelievable performance.

Some final thoughts: I tend to agree with AdAge's reporting that the entire show centered around the concepts of: crypto, health and wellness, electric vehicles, and celebrities.

Additionally, I noticed distinctly fewer clusters of A-List celebrity cameos, but I’ll take it after last year. I think that the vast majority of the 2021 Super Bowl ads overdid the celeb placements and this year was a slight recognition of that fact. I will say however, watching Alexa read Johanson's mind and seeing Rudd and Rogen cracking jokes together were both hilarious uses of star power. In the end, there is certainly a place for celebrity cameos - like if you can get three stars with the last name Jones to race up a hill and a Jo-bro to be the last to join the pack! (A personal favorite.)

And finally, while participating brands boasted an increase in audience engagement this year, I believe many of the experiences fell a bit flat. I would’ve loved to see gamification, social media filters, music scanning, XR overlays, a VR headset experience, a “Zoom” section (think NBA 2020), or a virtual being activation. I will say the Super Bowl NFT was a start! But, how can we push forward? How can we bring more people into the fold? How do we bridge the gap even more?

What were your thoughts on the evening? Let us know!

Words by Max Harberg

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