Super Bowl 2023 - More like Celebrity Hole

By AdNews | 14 February 2023
Lady Awesome for M&Ms.

David Kennedy, Partner @WiredCo.    

Warning: This article contains numerous Rihanna songs that may leave you calling in an SOS. 

Super Bowl, te amo. But what’s happened to you? As your halftime shows get better - Rihanna had better deliver - your ads seem to have become, well, super stale.

If last year was Crypto Bowl, this year is Celebrity Hole. Every brand and their dog is taking shelter under the umbrella of celebrity and humour. No disputing that we’ve found love in amusing celeb ads; I’ve worked on a few myself. No denying that celebs in ads - when done right - drive impact and effectiveness. And there’s no denying that the Super Bowl is historically all of those things wrapped up. 

But dozens of them sandwiched together in around 90 minutes? 

It reminds me of a week in 2012 when I played Rihanna on repeat; what started as please don’t stop the music quickly turned to disturbia when everything sounded the same.  And much like that week, Super Bowl LVII has tipped the balance, moulding into one big indistinguishable celebrity ad. Of the 37 ‘big ads’ released so far, 28 are celebrity fronted, with many more yet to come.

And it’s left me asking; originality and risk, where have you been?

Remember the bold work of previous Bowls? Tide’s 2017 ‘Bradshaw’s Stain’ hijack? Old Spice’s 2010 ‘The man you can smell like’ Twitter fuelled campaign? Snickers’ 2010 ‘You’re not you when you’re hungry’? VW’s 2011 ‘Darth Vader’? Or Reddit’s 2021 ‘Wow that actually worked!’ 5 second spot? These were original and distinctive. These caught the imagination and travelled beyond paid in to earned. Some of these even went on to become global campaigns. 

There are, however, some diamonds amongst it all. Take a bow PopCorners Breaking Bad reprisal, Uber One’s Diddy Don’t Do Jingles and Doritos’ Jack Harlow career change, each having mastered the art of feeling fresh with the celeb being integral to the story - plus they’re actually funny. But there’s also some tough ones, with M&M’s chaotic campaign being so hard to follow it feels more S&M than M&M; maybe it’ll all make sense when the full ad is released later. 

The Celebrity Hole may be more obvious this year because brands have love on the brain. 2023 is the era of brands partnering up with a celebrity as the MC. GM & Netflix ft. rude boy Will Farrell, Molson Coors and DraftKing, Miller Light and Coors Light, and Heineken and Ant Man ft. Paul Rudd. 

Let’s not forget, the Super Bowl is the $10Million $4.60 ROI bet! When you consider a 30” spot costs circa $7M USD plus an average of $3M USD to produce, why are they all swimming in the same direction? Where’s the innovation and originality?

It’s fair to say this was written six hours before the actual Super Bowl airs, with a potential 50 more ads to come. So it may be that there’s a few big bets yet to air. But it’s safe to say that celebs are here to stay. Hopefully next year is not a pon de replay and brands will woo us with something fresh. 

Here’s our live tracker of the best Super Bowl ads and themes which we'll update throughout the day. 

If you can spot all Rihanna song titles, you win a goodie bag - just email me the list    

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