by Catherine Clements
Web Content Manager
Without Pittsburgh’s home team in Super Bowl LIV — many Steelers fans turned to the more entertaining part of the NFL’s Big Game: the commercials.
With an average audience of about 100 million U.S., viewers, the Super Bowl is the biggest night of the year for advertisers. Marketers pay big bucks to attract new customers or enhance a brand’s image with a 30-second airtime slot totaling $6.5 million, according to CBS News.
While the ads that ran during the Big Game didn’t attempt to address any larger cultural moments like the pandemic, inflation or ongoing NFL challenges, noted NPR, what did stand out was the brands’ dedication to the Gen X Super Bowl. The heartwarming and emotional ads took a back seat to nostalgia, humor and playfulness this year, marking a shift from the last few years.
Celebrities were huge this year, especially those who resonate with the Gen X audience. Brands tried hard to piggyback on the audience’s connection to celebs like Morgan Freeman, Jeff Goldblum, The Rock, Jim Carrey, Steve Buscemi, Austin Powers, Dolly Parton, the Mannings, Andre 3000, Paul Rudd, Larry David, and Seth Rogen.
“It’s like the planners took a photo of the halftime performers and pasted that into the ‘target audience’ part of their creative briefs,” said Steve Radick, PRSA Pittsburgh’s student liaison.
We asked board members of PRSA Pittsburgh which commercials they thought stood out from the rest, and there were some clear favorites:
Google Pixel 6: Lizzo in Real Tone
“While I really enjoyed the Rocket Mortgage (Anna Kendrick and Cash Offer Carl were great) and the Lay’s bromance ad (very authentic relationship with Paul Rudd and Seth Rogen), the best ads were the ones that did more than draft off a celebrity’s Q-score and instead addressed a real problem. That’s why my favorite ad was for the Google Pixel 6. It acknowledged a real problem that spoke directly to a specific target audience and demonstrated exactly how their product could help solve it. It was emotional, concise, and creative. A really well-done and strategic spot.”
— Steve Radick, student liaison
“While it’s not always easy/may not always make sense for company’s to make their super bowl ads meaningful, Google does a great job here. Lizzo may still be featured in the ad, but it’s not all about her, and it focuses on real people and a real issue many of us probably never even thought about.”
— Nicole Tobias, programming co-chair
Squarespace: Sally’s Seashells
“My favorite commercial was the ‘Sally’s Seashells’ spot from Squarespace. As a copywriter, I really enjoyed the alliteration in the spot and thought it was very creative and captivating writing. Visually, I loved the warm colors used throughout the spot and the attention to detail, like Sally’s seashell-covered laptop, hair pins and headphones. I also think that the tagline ‘Everything to shell/sell everything’ both effectively communicates Squarespace’s key message (its e-commerce services and website integrations) and playfully references the creative of the ad. Zendaya and André 3000 were both excellent in their roles as well! Overall, I think this spot does a great job selling Squarespace (and seashells) with beautiful visuals and amusing copy.”
— Kaidia Pickels, Renaissance co-chair
Chevrolet: New Generation
“Chevy’s Sopranos ad blew everything else out of the water for me. It not only hit on the features of the car (highway vs. city mileage, parking), but also it hit home on its tagline for a ‘New Generation.’ Any Sopranos fan is going to get pumped as soon as they hear that theme song, and that’s just what it did. Plus it evoked a nostalgia that was the overall theme of the night for the ads (and the halftime show). Plus in this instance, they didn’t do any teasers or previews, which made it all the more special. Chevy wins for me!”
— Deanna Tomaselli, young professionals chair
Salesforce: The New Frontier
“My favorite Super Bowl commercial this year was the ‘New Frontier’ ad by Salesforce, featuring Matthew McConaughey as a hot-air balloon adventurer (referencing his role in ‘Interstellar’). I like how it throws shade at recent moon shots by Elon Musk and Richard Branson, without hitting the viewer over the head. At the same time, it has a call to action that asks people to ‘build more trust’ and ‘make more space for all of us’ — which not only keeps it meaningful, but also connects back to what Salesforce is as a product. I love McConaughey’s voiceover delivery, which is done in such a way that you almost forget that it rhymes, and the kitschy ’60s music (a favorite genre of mine) that keeps the mood light. All in all, it delivered a lot in a 60-second package: Successfully repping a product while delivering a timely, broad and actionable message.”
— Stacey Federoff, communications chair
Rocket Mortgage: Barbie Dream House
“With the hot-housing market right now, I thought Rocket Mortgage’s Barbie Dream House commercial was timely and relatable. Anyone shopping for their dream home can relate to the personas identified in the ad like ‘House Flipper Skipper’ or ‘Better Offer Betty.’ The spot was entertaining, nostalgic and informative on Rocket Mortgage’s product offerings. In my opinion, this was a well-done and memorable ad.”
— Catherine Clements, web content manager