From the minute Bitch Better Have My Money rang out through the stadium, this year’s Super Bowl was on to a winner. Rihanna broke the internet with a 12-track performance, custom Loewe jumpsuit, Alaïa puffer and unexpected pregnancy announcement. There was also football; Kansas City Chiefs beat Philadelphia Eagles 38-35 in a nail-bitingly close game.
But back to Rihanna. This year, the Halftime show took place in mid-air. Rihanna performed on seven suspended platforms, which Wired reported as being anywhere from 15 to 60 feet above the field. Incredibly, this set decision was mainly made with the grass in mind. As the conditions of the field often factor into a player’s performance, it was possible to create a more suitable show, at a greater scale, if the stage was actually suspended above ground. Which makes sense when you consider the 80 dancers that performed with Rihanna, kitted out in puffy Savage X Fenty.
Now the big game has come to a close, we’re left with one question on our mind, which brand snagged the spot for best ad? According to System1, the marketing research company which ranks commercials based on “viewer’s emotional response” and their long-term brand building potential, Disney’s 100th anniversary ad scored top, followed by other sentimental entries like Amazon’s story of a lonely dog. There were other memorable creative moments like the Paramount+ spot from Droga5 New York, which turned Sylvester Stallone into the face of a mountain, with animation from Titmouse.
Across the board, the best spots used expert timing, humour and impactful storytelling to stand apart. Below are our five must-see ads from this year’s selection.
Squarespace: Backstage with Adam Driver
Occasionally, a teaser spot steals the show. Squarespace’s full Super Bowl commercial, The Singularity, from filmmaker’s Aoife McArdle featured a clever sci-fi narrative about an army of Adam Driver clones. But in contrast to the big visuals of the final ad, the teaser stood apart. It was a more low-key affair, showing Adam Driver backstage, talking with other versions of the cast (i.e. himself). It showcased Driver’s acting range effectively (albeit strangely) and leveraged the well-worn mockumentary approach without feeling stale.
Anomaly: Crown Royal, Thank You Canada
From Anomaly and director Jake Scott, Thank You Canada is the perfect example of a job done well. The premise is simple – Dave Grohl lists all the great things that hail from Canada, including football. But with each object on the list, we get some brilliant footage depicting that invention or figure – from a poster introducing “heart throb” Michael Cera to a really satisfying shot of a packet of eggs. The sound design is effective, the editing is snappy and the light touches of animation are a playful addition.
The Martin Agency /Superette: DoorDash
This one’s a little more chaotic. DoorDash brings together celebrity chef and Munchies favourite Matty Matheson with Wu-Tang Clan’s legendary Raekwon, plus adds a cameo from Nickelodeon’s stop-motion-animated Tiny Chef. A collaboration between The Martin Agency and DoorDash’s in-house creative studio Superette, the spot is essentially a trip to the supermarket with some ingredient-based humour thrown in for good measure. And yet, by the end we were left completely satisfied. Plus, it’s soundtracked by Gravel Pit. What more could you ask for?
The Marketing Arm: Doritos, Jack’s New Angle
Jack’s New Angle is perhaps not the most inventive of stories, but it really commits to the bit. Jack Harlow is looking for a new sound and comes up with the humble triangle, which he eventually popularises – before Elton John snubs him winning “Best Triangle Player of the Year” at an award ceremony. The Marketing Arm lays a lot of groundwork for the final scene to pay off, showing Jack leading triangle lessons, introducing a Triangle cologne and ignoring advice from Missy Elliot in the name of following his new sound. It’s impressively big in scale and funny to boot.
The Community: General Motors / Netflix, Why not an EV?
To advertise the fact Netflix will be showing more electric vehicles in its shows, we have a Super Bowl crossover spot from the streaming giant and General Motors. Why not an EV? inserts electric cars into some of Netflix’s most well-known shows, including Bridgerton, Squid Game, Love Is Blind and Stranger Things, featuring Will Ferrell for good measure. It’s a well-executed remix of beloved material.
Squarespace: Backstage with Adam Driver (Copyright © Squarespace, 2023)
Anomaly: Crown Royal, Thank You Canada (Copyright © Crown Royal, 2023)
The Martin Agency /Superette: DoorDash, We Get Groceries (Copyright © DoorDash, 2023)
The Marketing Arm: Doritos, Jack’s New Angle (Copyright © Doritos, 2023)
The Community: General Motors / Netflix, Why not an EV? (Copyright © General Motors, 2023)
About the Author
Liz (she/they) joined It’s Nice That as news writer in December 2021. After graduating in Film from The University of Bristol, they worked freelance, writing for independent publications such as Little White Lies, INDIE magazine and design studio Evermade.