Advertisers lean into nostalgia, star power during Super Bowl
NEW YORK — On the field, the Los Angeles Rams and Cincinnati Bengals played a nail biter during Super Bowl 56, with the Rams emerging victorious.
Off the field, Super Bowl advertisers were in a tough competition of their own.
Advertisers shelled out up to $7 million for 30 seconds of airtime during the Super Bowl, so they pulled out all the stops to win over the estimated 100 million people that tune into the game. Big stars, humor and a heavy dose of nostalgia were prevalent throughout the night.
"The Super Bowl featured positive, up-beat advertising," said Northwestern University marketing professor Tim Calkins. "For the most part there was no mention of the pandemic, COVID or masks."
Chevrolet re-created the opening sequence to "The Sopranos" to tout its all-electric Chevy Silverado — one of several auto ads promoting electric vehicles. This time, however, Jamie-Lynn Sigler, who played Meadow Soprano on the show that ran from 1999 to 2007, is in the driver's seat instead of the Sopranos patriarch played by the late James Gandolfini.
"As soon as they started playing the music from 'The Sopranos' they had me riveted," said Kelly O'Keefe, managing partner of Brand Federation. "Great link to a well-loved favorite with music that can silence a crowd. When it played you could hear a pin drop."
FTX, a cryptocurrency exchange, enlisted Larry David of "Curb Your Enthusiasm" to convey that cryptocurrency is ready for the mainstream. Toyota enlisted three famous "Joneses" -- Leslie Jones, Tommy Lee Jones and Rashida Jones -- in its ad for the 2022 Tundra. And Verizon's ad had Jim Carrey revisit his 1996 role as "The Cable Guy" to promote its ultrafast 5G wireless network.
"This is one of the most engaging set of ads I've seen in several years," said Kimberly Whitler, professor of marketing at the University of Virginia. "Almost all focus on light-hearted entertainment."
Cryptocurrency exchanges made a splash during the game, with FTX, Crypto.com, eToro and Coinbase all airing ads, leading some to dub the game the "Crypto Bowl." They're all aiming to make cryptocurrency more mainstream.
Coinbase's ad just showed a QR code that changed colors while electronic music played. The QR code led to Coinbase's web site. University of Virginia's Whitler said the ad might drive signups but could fall flat for some.
"A floating QR code without a brand name may not be sufficient to drive interest," Whitler said. "They are likely hoping that curiosity will inspire people to put down the beer and pick up their phone ... but that is a tall order without any other 'reason why'."
"(Cryptocurrency exchanges) have a lot of money and they need to create a lot of change," said Mark DiMassimo, founder and creative chief of marketing agency DiGo. "They want to get crypto assets into as many hands as possible so people can start feeling comfortable playing that game."
In a moment of bad timing, Avocados from Mexico aired an ad that showed Julius Caesar and a rough bunch of gladiator fans outside what appears to be the Colosseum, enjoying guacamole and avocados. But the ad came after news that the U.S. government has suspended all imports of Mexican avocados after a U.S. plant safety inspector in Mexico received a threat.
The association did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the ban, which hits an industry with almost $3 billion in annual exports. Avocados for this year's Super Bowl had already been exported in the weeks prior to the event.
General Motors, BMW, Kia, and Polestar all advertised electric vehicles. BMW showed Arnold Schwarzenegger as Zeus, the god of the sky (or in this commercial, the god of lightning) whose wife, Salma Hayek Pinault, gives him the EV BMW iX to spice up retirement. And Kia showcased its Kia EV6 electric vehicle in its ad along with a cute "robo dog." Nissan's ad also gave a nod to its all-electric 2023 Nissan Ariya.
Nostalgia for the past was everywhere as well.
In an ad for Rocket Mortgage, Anna Kendrick tells kids about the competitive housing market by using examples of classic kid toys like Barbie's Dream House and Skeletor's Castle Grayskull. GM enlisted Mike Myers for an "Austin Powers"-themed ad that features a reprise of his role as Austin Powers' nemesis, Dr. Evil.
T-Mobile reunited Zach Braff and Donald Faison, stars of the sitcom "Scrubs" that aired from 2001 to 2010. And canned cocktail brand Cutwater Spirits harkened back to an iconic 1997 Apple campaign, "Here's to the Crazy Ones," with a twist. The black-and-white ad that honors its drinkers with the salute, "Here's to the Lazy Ones."