For many viewers who tune into the Super Bowl each year, the actual game is the toilet break and the Super Bowl commercials are a thing of beauty. With Super Bowl LVII (that’s 57 for those who can’t be bothered with Roman Numerals) done and dusted, and Rhianna’s 12-song mic-drop of a performance, we’re taking the liberty to round up the best Super Bowl ads so you’ve got them all in one place.
While ads are annoying inconveniences most of the time, some of the biggest brands in the world have been known to pull out all stops and actually show some personality with their Super Bowl commercials. After all, the Super Bowl is one of the biggest yearly opportunities in the world of advertising. In 2022, a whopping 99.18 million viewers in the US alone tuned in, which means Super Bowl ads are also ridiculously expensive.
Put simply, the Super Bowl is one of the most-watched entertainment spectacles on television each and every year. Broadcast across 225 different stations in more than 180 different countries, alongside around 450 radio stations, the sporting event is the perfect place to reveal a new brand messaging, product or tagline. In the past, classic ads like Wendy’s 1984 hit Where’s the Beef? and Budweiser’s Whassup? from 1999 made their debut at the Super Bowl before transcending the sporting arena and entering the cultural vernacular.
Last year, Super Bowl LVI was viewed by a staggering 99.18 million people, however, fell short of the all-time viewing record. The most-watched Super Bowl ever belongs to Super Bowl XLIX in 2015, which saw the New England Patriots and Seattle Seahawks do battle in front of 114.44 million viewers. Needless to say, with numbers like this, it’s little wonder brands are eager to jump at the lucrative, albeit very expensive, advertising opportunity.
Super Bowl commercials have become such a cultural phenomenon over the years, that now there are trailers for the trailers. Many spots have been released in advance, with brands taking advantage of the opportunity by pre-empting themselves and showing off their celebrity gets. Already, we’ve got the likes of Alicia Silverstone reprising her Clueless role as Ms Cher Horowitz for Rakuten, and Dave Grohl reading a list of random things for Crown Royal.
The big ones, however, are saved for the Super Bowl itself and we’ve rounded up the best (and worst) below. But first, let’s talk about money.
How Much Does A Super Bowl Ad Cost In 2023?
As reported by Front Office Sports, broadcasters Fox has set the cost of a 30-second Super Bowl commercial at US$7 million (AU$10.1 million), up from last year’s average price of US$6.5 million (AU$9.3 million). The last time Fox held broadcasting rights to the Super Bowl was in 2020, and the price for an ad slot back then was set at US$5.6 million (AU$8 million). As you can see, the price hike is significant over the years, so brands aren’t exactly going to waste their opportunity on just any old commercial.
That’s why we’ve seen so much creativity with Super Bowl ads, mostly powered by celebrity collaborations and a heady dose of nostalgia, like when Uber Eats hooked up with Wayne’s World actors Mike Meyers and Dana Carvey or McDonald’s tapping ‘Ye for an appearance last year. Or now, when PopCorners roped in Bryan Cranston and Aaron Paul to appear as Walter White and Jesse Pinkman to develop six flavours of the snack.
As we stated last year in our Super Bowl ads wrap-up, the NFL playoff championship is regularly treated as a global platform for both culture and commerce. And both are typically blurred by these ads, bringing in a whole heap of pop-culture references that relegate the match between the Philadelphia Eagles and Kansas City Chiefs as a mere support act.
Below, you’ll find the best Super Bowl ads both of which were released before the game, and those that screened during the game.
How Many Commercials Are There During Super Bowl?
There are typically between 80 and 100 commercials during Super Bowl, some of which are released (or even leaked) in advance of the game. According to Statista that usually means there are 50 minutes of commercials in total. As you can imagine, it’s an incredibly lucrative venture for networks.
Why Are Super Bowl Ads So Expensive?
Simply put, viewers. This much is obvious, but it’s important to get around the size and scale of just how many people tune in to the Super Bowl each year. And this translates to one of the greatest marketing opportunities in history, which is why you’ll see many of these big-name brands like McDonald’s and Doritos just throw money at the sports event without question.
The Super Bowl is typically broadest across 225 stations in more than 180 countries. The event is also streamed live on around 450 radio stations, so a brand is pretty much guaranteed the largest captive audience they can possibly ask for. In the past, brands like Wendy’s, Budweiser and GoDaddy have benefited greatly from advertising at the Super Bowl so it’s perfectly reasonable that brands would want to use Super Bowl to make big announcements, change their messaging, introduce new products or just generally remind people of how much money they have to pay for celebrity appearances.
The most-watched Super Bowl of all time was Super Bowl XLIX in 2015, where the New England Patriots clashed with the Seattle Seahawks to a captive audience of 114.44 million viewers, in the US alone. Those are serious numbers on the board by any measure.
The Best Super Bowl LVII Ads Of 2023
PopCorners ‘Breaking Good’
PopCorners used its time at Super Bowl LVII to let everyone know that the brand now has seven flavours via Bryan Cranston, Aaron Paul and Raymond Cruz – respectively, Walter White, Jesse Pinkman and Tuco Salamanca – and a rather clever take on one of Breaking Bad’s earlier scenes. I dare you not to crack a smile at Tuco’s reaction when eating the air-popped chips.
Michelob ULTRA ‘New Members Day’
This is the kind of Super Bowl commercial we like. Nostalgia and comedy in equal measures, it doesn’t feel tacky or safe, no awkwardly worked in brand references and a rather smooth script overall. You’ve got Caddyshack, Succession, Peyton Manning, Tony Romo and Serena Williams all packed into the one commercial, with neither feeling overly hammy. Just a great job overall.
Dunkin’ Donuts ‘Live Your Best Life’
While we weren’t overly amused (although there was a slight chuckle in the office) by Will Ferrell’s usual turn with General Motors, this time promoting EV’s, or Heineken’s ham-fisted hook-up with Paul Rudd, Dunkin’ Donuts came out swinging hard with ‘Live Your Best Life.’ The commercial leans heavily on star power from couple Ben Affleck and Jennifer Lopez and is entertaining enough to qualify for this list.
T-Mobile ‘Bradley’s Mom Knows Best’
Bradley Cooper and his apparent mother star in T-Mobile’s latest effort to promote that the telco has America’s largest 5G network. It’s fairly straightforward in terms of conceit, but Cooper sharing a hilariously tender moment with his mother helps get this one over the line.
Uber One ‘One Hit For Uber One’
Uber must have a monster creative writing team because this is so far one of the best Super Bowl commercials this year. Diddy, those guys from ‘What Does The Fox Say?’ and Kelis attempt to make a new jingle for the company’s Uber One membership and end up cribbing Haddaway. Very funny.
It seems like all that publicity from denying ‘Ye an audience last year has given Skechers a bit of a boost (no pun intended) and the confidence to throw some money at Super Bowl this year, as well as none other than Snoop Dogg. Showing off his footwear in various settings, Snoop manages to bring the laughs and, fortunately for Skechers, a bit of glory for the brand.
T-Mobile ‘New Year, New Neighbour’
T-Mobile get another shout out on this list, with ‘New Year, New Neighbour’ starring John Travolta and – getting into some Scrubs nostalgia – both Zach Braff and Donald Faison. Like most of Travolta’s Super Bowl turns, it’s a musical number that’s entertaining enough. The humour isn’t there, but the vibes are immaculate.
Pepsi Zero Sugar ‘Ben Stiller & Steve Martin’
Here’s another teaser trailer that was released just a few days before the actual game,, but it’s too good not to include here. Pepsi simply got Ben Stiller and Steve Martin to go back-and-forth to, somehow, promote Pepsi Zero Sugar. We’re not huge fans of Super Bowl ads that present a funny scene and then randomly pull in the thing it’s meant to promote. It feels unnatural – although it all does at the end of the day – but this one’s such an exception because Stiller and Martin are so charming together.
Squarespace ‘Backstage With Adam Driver’
It’s hard not to like Adam Driver so Squarespace was smart to rope the actor into its Super Bowl play. Featuring numerous Adam Drivers, a teaser for the ad was released ahead of Super Bowl and the actual thing doesn’t disappoint either. Not bad. Not bad at all.
The Worst Super Bowl LVII Ads Of 2023
Hellman’s ‘Who’s In The Fridge’
Who’s in the fridge? Oh look it’s Jon Hamm and Brie Larson staring up as a ravenous Pete Davidson comes to dinner. It’s silly, and silly generally works well for brands, but there’s something about this awkwardly mismatched group of celebrities that rubs (or spreads) us the wrong way.
General Motors x Netflix
General Motors has hooked up with Netflix and, once again, Will Ferrell to try and push EV’s to the Super Bowl audience. It usually works, and we guess it does in a way, but there’s a clear attempt to be as funny and big-budget as possible. Yet, the ambition and the actual results don’t align. Ferrell isn’t at his best, and the spoofs feel cheap and easy. This one could have used a better writing team.
Doritos ‘Jacks New Angle’
It was expected that some brand would try and hook up with Jack Harlow for Super Bowl this year. Considering the year of hype that has been sitting behind the rapper, it was a given. Doritos ended up snagging him, but they really wasted the opportunity on some cheap jokes that didn’t land. Don’t get get us wrong, Harlow has the charisma necessary to pull off something like this. It’s just unfortunate the script wasn’t any better.