SUPER BOWL ALERT: Which Commercials Won Big, Fell Flat and What it Means For Marketing

February 15, 2022 · Share via Email LinkedIn

That’s how Ad Age staffers Judann Pollack and Simon Dumenco described this year’s crop of Super Bowl commercials in our annual review. Whether it was the Crypto Bowl thanks to the onslaught of cryptocurrency brands in this year’s game, the celebrity bowl due to the abundance of A-list talent appearing in ads, or the EV Bowl with automakers promoting their electric vehicle ambitions, one thing our two esteemed reviewers did seem to agree on was the commercial game was at least slightly more fun than last year.

Kia, Uber Eats and General Motors’ Chevy commercials were among the top performers, according to Ad Age, while Turkish Airlines, WeatherTech and Irish Spring missed the mark.

Big winners
Rocket Mortgage was once again the big winner of the night, according to USA Today’s Ad Meter. The lender's 60-second ad, crafted by Chicago-based agency Highdive, stars Anna Kendrick in what initially appears to be an ad for Barbie’s Dreamhouse dollhouse—until characters like “Cash Offer Carl” and “Betty Offer Betty” swoop in to start a bidding war on the miniature property, spoofing the country’s current red-hot housing market, Ad Age’s Ethan Jakob Craft wrote. It won with an average score of 6.82 out of 10. Not only was this Rocket Mortgage’s second consecutive year topping the Ad Meter, but it was Highdive’s third straight win. Aside from its Rocket Mortgage win last year, it also won for Jeep’s 2020 commercial.

Frito-Lay’s Cheetos/Doritos commercial was ranked as the most likable according to Ace Metrix. That list also includes Nissan’s “Thrill Driver” ad, Lay’s commercial starring Paul Rudd and Seth Rogen and BMW’s spot featuring Arnold Schwarzenneger as Zeus.

Big surprise At the opposite end of the spectrum is Coinbase, which came in dead last in USA Today’s Ad Meter. But while the 60-second ad, which was little more than a QR code bouncing around the screen (resembling a retro arcade game), was ranked last among the 66 commercials tracked by Ad Meter, it certainly received plenty of buzz.

According to Coinbase Chief Marketing Officer Kate Rouch, the company saw 20 million hits to its landing page in one minute.And while viewers are clearly split on the ad, it does open the door to new ways for brands to think about Super Bowl advertising as more than just an awareness play, but as an opportunity to drive KPIs.

Scan it
While this is surely not the first time QR codes have appeared in Super Bowl commercials, it is the first time they’ve generated this much buzz. Aside from Coinbase’s QR code, eagle eyed-viewers may have noticed a QR code in Rocket Mortgage’s Super Bowl spot, Ad Age’s Adrianne Pasquarelli writes. Midway through the commercial, which uses Anna Kendrick and Barbie to advertise Rocket Homes, one of the children is shown sporting a t-shirt with a QR code.The code is for StockX, the resale platform co-founded by Dan Gilbert, who is also founder and chairman of Detroit-based Rocket Mortgage.

The code leads to a StockX website that reads, “Well look who it is. Congrats on seeing our cameo in the Rocket Homes and Rocket Mortgage big game commercial. Now you have access to enter an exclusive ReStockX.”

Social chatter
On Twitter, multiple brands including Planters and TurboTax spoofed Coinbase’s QR codes with posts of their own. And of course, both in-game advertisers and those that didn’t run ads this year were eager to discuss the ad game on social channels. One of the best tweets of the night actually came from the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, which in response to Uber Eats’ commercial said, “Do not eat soap.”

The winners of Twitter’s brand bowl (as measured by Twitter), include FanDuel, which did not run a Big Game spot, for its Bingo stunt. Pepsi was named Twitter’s MVP for its halftime promotions, including an NFT giveaway.

Aging up
TVision, a firm that measures TV attention, said that those ages 55 and up paid the most attention to the Super Bowl commercials, as measured by its Attention Index.

It’s fitting then that advertisers seemed to have catered to that audience, with the AARP noting many ads targeted the 50-plus demo. “50+ took Super Bowl 56 by storm,” Mark Bradbury, senior director, insights and integrated Marketing, AARP Media Solutions said in a statement. “For nearly four hours, audiences were treated to a steady parade of people aged 50+ on their screens – from commentators, athletes, halftime performers, celeb spectators and star-studded ad cameos. When big bucks were on the line, the network and mainstream advertisers made clear this demographic is more important than ever.”

This is important because brands have long focused much of their marketing dollars on the 18-49 demographic. And when it comes to TV, at least, the bulk of the viewership in live, linear TV, comes from the 50-plus age group.

This article originally appeared in Ad Age.