The second Super Bowl of the COVID-19 pandemic aired on Sunday. As always, it delivered on its usual promise of celebrity-ridden advertising goodness. A dozen first time brands appeared this year from the fintech, health and betting categories, which is a strong reflection of how consumer spending habits have shifted over the last year or so. Unsurprisingly, crypto made a big impact this year (many dubbing it “the Crypto Bowl”), with one contender seemingly stealing the show.
Super Bowl commercials really do mirror the mood of the people. Happily, most marketers took the opportunity to look beyond the pandemic, focusing on lighter themes such as friendship, humour and revival. It could infer that society is yearning for an escape rather than the quiet reflection that has dominated discourse of late.
Meanwhile, in the betting category, the industry seized on a wave of states legalizing single event bets to attract new customers. This year there were two entries from now official NFL and Super Bowl LVI partners DraftKings and Caesars Sportsbook. Although that doesn’t seem like much, it’s not surprising given that most companies pay around $7M for a 30 second spot, and it’s certainly an improvement from the 2021 Super Bowl, where only DraftKings featured.
Here’s a roundup of choice examples from the sports betting, finance and investment industries:
An action-packed spot featuring black-clad daredevil who skydives off a DraftKings blimp, and even a quick cameo from Joe Namath. The reveal is the offer to opt-in to win one of five different $1M free bets. Aside from all the special effects adrenaline, we felt the ad was fairly generic and lacked a coherent idea. Over the last year or so, DraftKings have spent big on enticing customers (somewhere to the tune of $140M in promotions and incentives) but customer loyalty remains a massive issue, which is fuelling their declining share price (losing $326M since Q4).
As a follow on from the advertising they have been leading with throughout the NFL’s regular season, Caesar’s Playbook puts the Manning family back on screen with Caesar and Cleopatra. That might have contributed to the sense that this feels like an inside joke for the football regulars. For the rest of us it was a bit of a tough get. Perhaps a bit of a “fumble” (to use some football slang).
Arguably the most distinctive ad was Coinbase’s minimalist bouncing QR code. Inspired by DVD screensavers, the code drifted across the screen at an angle for a leisurely 60 seconds with retro music playing in the background. According to Adage, it directed more than 20 million hits to the landing page (six times projected engagement) in a single minute and immediately crashed their promotional page, website and app. The proven format used in Reddit’s 2021 Super Bowl entry (which also did incredibly well) goes to show that a good idea always trumps a massive production budget or celebrity stunt casting.
Playing on the contentious and polarizing debates that surround cryptocurrency and NFTs, FTX brought in Curb Your Enthasiam’s Larry David to depict the baby boomer naysayer. As he pops up in different forms throughout the ages, he turns his nose up at various inventions, ranging from the wheel to the lightbulb. In the last scene, an FTX employee shows him the app, describing it as a “safe and easy way to get into crypto” – his response is predictably lackluster. A nice effort here that easily sparks a good debate online.
A Super Bowl debut for Greenlight (a banking app that helps parents educate and talk to kids about money), featuring Ty Burrell from Modern Family. Making a ton of terrible purchase decisions (such as the “Tytanic” boat, a Ty robot and hot air balloon), he is eventually broke – cuing up Greenlight’s financial literacy program.
An inspiring and hopeful message from Toyota, featuring paralympian brothers Brian and Robin McKeever. The spot demonstrates their collective effort as they support each other towards winning 10 medals. As they overcome obstacles and tribulations, the true impact of their teamwork shows as they cross the line together.