Squarespace Super Bowl

CR’s pick of the Super Bowl ads 2023

Brand purpose is out and celebs and bawdy humour are in, as the Super Bowl ads try and lighten everyone’s mood

Judging by the ads at this year’s Super Bowl, serious times call for unserious advertising. While the overriding trend in marketing for the past few years has been grand gestures around purpose and how brands make the world a better place, this has been replaced at this year’s game with celebrity hi-jinks and a heavy dose of nostalgia.

The Super Bowl is the biggest live sporting event in the US, which makes its ad spaces extremely hot (and expensive) property too. This makes for mainstream ads aimed at the broadest demographics, though in recent years we have still seen brands make risky attempts to stand out.

Not so much this year. Instead it was a big pay day for celebrities as everyone from Jennifer Coolidge to Ben Affleck to Pete Davidson (of course, alongside another ad favourite, Jon Hamm) made appearances.

This was a slick, big spending year – there were no Coinbase stunts in sight, or any crypto ads at all for that matter – with ads that looked back rather than forwards. But if it’s entertainment and slapstick humour you’re after, it had it in droves. Here’s our ten favourites from this year’s game:

Netflix/GM; Agency: The Community

Netflix and GM team up with Will Ferrell to show how placing more EVs in shows on the streaming channel will help normalise the cars for people. But only when it’s appropriate, of course.

Ram; Agency: Highdive

Ram takes a less slick, but more unexpected approach to promoting EVs, in this ad which spoofs ‘male enhancement’ pharma ads to address people’s fears about EV performance. While undoubtedly a strange strategy, in a year that feels a bit one-note, this spot at least stood out for being different.

Dunkin’; Agency: Anomaly

Ben Affleck has long demonstrated his love for Dunkin’ so he’s a natural fit to advertise them. Proof that the celebrities-doing-normal-stuff stunt idea still has legs.

Tubi; Agency: Mischief

Giant, slightly terrifying, rabbits throw people down rabbit holes of Tubi content. Don’t worry, they’re all alright in the end.

Squarespace; In-house

Adam Driver is on a philosophical journey in this spot for Squarespace, which delivers great visuals and some witty touches.

Booking.com; Agency: Zulu Alpha Kilo

Melissa McCarthy plugs into our desires to get away from it all in this witty Booking.com spot.

Doritos; Agency: Goodby, Silverstein & Partners

Doritos was one of many brands (including Uber One and Workday) that called on multiple musicians to flog their wares but took it to the most ridiculous levels to earn a spot on this list.

Pepsi; Agency: VaynerMedia

Pepsi asks Ben Stiller and Steve Martin to show off their acting chops while asking if their love of Pepsi is great acting or great taste, before inviting audiences to try for themselves.

Paramount+; Agency: Droga5

This is a pretty muddled spot with far too many Paramount+ talent shoehorned in, but it features Sylvester Stallone climbing a cliff shaped like his face, which is enough.

Apple Music; In-house

Created to promote Rihanna’s half-time show at the Super Bowl this year, this ad – which looks back at the singer’s childhood in Barbados – may not have played during the Super Bowl but is so linked to it (and so great) that we’re sticking it on the list anyway.