learning to love super bowl ads

Creative Director Laura Rothstein waxes poetic about her new found appreciation for the big spots from the big game.

feb 14, 2024

brands - trends - advertising - super bowl

by: laura rothstein

As a part time crank, I often find myself poo-pooing what other people get super jazzed about. Nature, nurture, my under-used undergraduate degree – whatever it is, it’s a bit of a default position to be immediately suss.

But suddenly, and maybe because I’m getting older and lightening up – I had a total pollyanna moment about Super Bowl ads this year.

You know the ones. Star-studded, either hella zany or deeply earnest. Usually, I’d huff and puff and roll my eyes as the internet popped off with opinion pieces and listicles about which ones were the best this year and why – all the while furtively checking them out and thinking about the number of stakeholders involved to get these suckers approved. Shivers.

This year, I got over myself and watched the Dunkin’ Donuts spot. And I laughed. Ben Affleck is funny and self-depreciating, and the timing and tone was just right. Then I watched the Michael Cera CeraVe spot. The chucklefest continued. I’m pretty sure it was an ode to Grace Jones in Boomerang (must-watch movie about the ad industry with Eddie Murphy). I skipped through a few (Kate McKinnon love you, but the cat . . ), was indifferent to some others (UberEats conceit belaboured), but generally, I enjoyed. 

And guess what? 123.7 million people enjoyed too! That was this year’s audience for the Super Bowl – which in this day-in-age of social platforms, streamers and a general media landscape fragmentation – is beyond epic.

Now, much is made about how expensive these spots are for such a brief blip on TV and how much the celebs get paid for showing up. But it’s worth it. Because – and here’s the pollyanna moment – these spots are pieces of art that should make all of us in the advertising industry excited about what we do. I said it.

Whether you’ve ever made a Super Bowl ad or not (I never have), it proves year-over-year that we work in an industry that’s not just about moving product. These spots are unarguably a part of culture – in the least pompous, most fun way possible. While advertising awards shows are full of one-off wins or purpose driven work designed to woo judges and other industry professionals – Super Bowl ads are for 123.7 million people. They’re beautifully crafted, beautifully produced, literally everyone sees them and everyone talks about them. You can’t deny their reach or impact. Kudos to the ad peeps who got them made.

For the rest of us, it reinforces that we work in a creative industry – and that fundamentally is a rewarding thing. And whether a cynic or not – you can’t deny the fun that was probably had by the people making these ads – and the fun we had watching them.  

I shall now consider myself a reformed crank. And I look forward to this time next year.