Crowe’s Take: Themes from the Big Game

February 24, 2022 Crowe PR

Author: Casey Blatt

112 million sets of eyeballs tuned in to watch The Big Game a little over a week ago. Whether you are a die-hard sports fan, you work in the marketing industry or you were simply there for the halftime show or Instagram-worthy snacks, the Super Bowl is the pinnacle primetime viewing event for many.  

As to be expected from a group of communications pros, the Super Bowl LVI commercials were the undeniable highlight of the annual game. The Crowe team had a chance to debrief and discuss a few notable themes that stood out among the ads this year. Here are a few observations for marketers to note: 

TECHNOLOGY TAKES OVER 

As in years past, technology brands took center stage during the commercial breaks. From home security to virtual reality, household names like Ring, Meta and Bitcoin paid the big bucks to play their ads during the prime slots of the day. The biggest tech trend this year though was cryptocurrency. Fan favorites included Lebron James’ conversation with his 17-year-old self for crypto.com and Larry David’s series of historically hilarious version of himself for FTX. However, it was Coinbase that turned heads with their simple yet strange ad. Set upon a black background, a color-changing QR code bouncing around the screen like a Pong game to an EDM soundtrack, the crypto ad was a testament to the sustainable nature of the QR code for even the most skeptical consumers. 

Replay: Tech-driven innovation will continue to dominate consumer purchasing behavior, making our lives even easier and more automated. This includes the continued growth of cryptocurrency, which is sure to have implications for retailers and e-commerce players sooner rather than later. 

90’S NOSTALGIA RULES  

If this year’s halftime show wasn’t enough reason for the Gen Xers and millennials to pay attention during the game, then the onslaught of 90’s references throughout some of the major commercial breaks did the job. Classic throwback movies, songs and childhood toys played a starring role in a few of the funniest ads. 

Verizon revived a Jim Carrey classic Chip Douglas from The Cable Guyto promote their new 5G internet service. Rocket Mortgage took a playful approach to their real estate technology by bringing back the Barbie Dreamhouse and a quick cameo from Skeletor. Taco Bell blended the past with the present, leveraging a popular modern-day musician, Doja Cat, with Hole’s classic 90’s pop grunge track “Celebrity Skin.”  

Replay: As Boomers age into retirement and Gen Xers and Millennials head the household, playing up nostalgic memories from 90’s films, music and pop culture will resonate with the generations that are currently responsible for major purchasing decisions. Reviving old trends and bringing them back with a modern twist is a sure-fire way to inspire brand love from consumers from these generations and beyond. 

BLACK CULTURE TAKES CENTER STAGE 

This year’s big game celebrated Black culture – especially Los Angeles hip hop culture – more than any prior Super Bowl. After some not-so-great press for the NFL, the positive perspective on the Black community’s contributions to professional sports, music and commerce was a nice change of tone.  

Whether you’re a Boomer with a loyalty to the Dallas Cowboys or a Gen Z Euphoria fanatic, advertisers drew on some of the biggest Black stars in our lifetime to reach a broader audience. One of our favorite ads of the day was Squarespace’s take on an age-old nursery rhyme with a modern-day portrayal of Black-owned businesses. Add in the incomparable influence of Zendaya, the lyrical skill of Andre 3000 and nostalgic images of Brooklyn’s bustling Coney Island, and you’ve got yourself a hat trick. We also loved the Oikos spot featuring NFL legend Deion Sanders and his son Shedeur Sanders, which gave us an exaggerated view of strength. In a series of competitive activities, Deion and his son go toe-to-toe for the strongest title, going to ridiculous lengths to outdo the other. As the two Sanders men argued over who was the strongest, Deion’s mom, Connie Knight, appears to remind him who the real strongest champ is. “Strength? How do you think I gave birth to your big head?” The light-hearted ending was a nod to Black female strength, humbling these brutes quickly with Connie’s sharp wit and a kind smile.  

Replay: If the Super Bowl is any indication, diversity in advertising and creative content will continue on a welcome upward trajectory. Expect brands to continue to embrace a more inclusive, creative approach that represents people and cultures from a multitude of backgrounds that more accurately reflects the makeup of modern-day American society.  

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