Never mind the football – how ‘bout those Super Bowl ads (and that halftime show)?

🕐 3 min read

Editor’s note: We know LA Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford found his passing targets often enough to take down the Cincinnati Bengals 23-20 in Sunday’s Super Bowl – but did the dizzying barrage of TV commercials and the hip-hop halftime show find their targets? We asked the experts at Fort Worth’s cutting-edge ad agency PytchBlack.

By Andrew Yanez and Bryan Delgado

NFL Hall of Fame coach George Allen said it best: “The future is now.”

His words were on full display throughout the Super Bowl commercials – in tone, focus and the products being promoted. Modern offerings such as cryptocurrency, electric vehicles and digital services were the norm, contrasted sharply with a smaller range of consumer products that paid the $7 million price tag for a 30-second commercial spot.

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It was very obvious the target market for brands has shifted back to focus on the traditionally coveted 25-54 age group, utilizing cultural references and celebrities that older millennials and younger Gen X  viewers enjoyed. The commercial setting from start to finish was a string of nostalgia settings to ’90s kids, including Michelob Ultra paying homage to The Big Lebowski; GM bringing back Dr. Evil and friends from Austin Powers; the guys from Scrubs promoting T-Mobile; and even a Chevy electric truck cast in a remake of the opening credits from The Sopranos.

Even Meta (formerly Facebook) promoted its new virtual reality platform by using a mom and pop local ’80s pizza parlor, long shuttered but brought back to life inside their digital world.

The halftime show, sponsored by Pepsi, continued the theme of the evening, showcasing the biggest names in rap and R&B in the late ’90s and early 2000s: Dr. Dre, Snoop Dogg, Eminem, 50 Cent, Mary J. Blige, and the younger Kendrick Lamar. Multiple friends declared on social media it was the “greatest halftime show of all time” while our parents wondered, “Who are these people?”

Almost every commercial was put together using humor and comedy, a sharp contrast from the serious tone of last year’s event. Interestingly, there was only one single mention of the COVID-19 pandemic, a commercial for CUE, an at-home COVID test. It seemed no one wanted to talk about the events of the last two years; rather it was a determined effort to keep the mood upbeat and light. We’re all ready to move on and the commercial spots reflected that.

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Honorable mention to the funny montage of Larry David proclaiming historical achievements (the wheel, electricity, indoor plumbing) as passing fads in promoting FTX Crypto Currency Exchange. It was a great way to position and soften a new product for an audience where few currently understand how it all works.

Andrew Yanez is creative director and managing partner at PytchBlack, a creative services firm that works with ESPN in college football. Bryan Delgado, group account director and brand strategy director at PytchBlack, works and leads the team on the Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic.

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