Three Cheers to 2023’s Best Super Bowl Ads

Super Bowl Sunday has come and gone, leaving in its wake some mild indigestion and the requisite post-game analysis of…the alcohol ads. At an average $7 million per pop, the line was stacked (mostly) with jumbos, and with Anheuser-Busch punting on its longstanding exclusive rights, the field was wide open for the first time in years.

OK, enough cliches (give or take a few more). Here’s our top five and reasons why:

  • Molson Coors – Molson Coors was brilliant in gamifying everything from the start, keeping its spot incognito till gametime and building out a full campaign to propel and leverage its investment. Things got into gear last month with a full-page New York Times ad pitting corporate cousins Miller Lite and Coors Light in a Draft Kings sub-sponsored prediction pool, offering cash for guessing which brand would dominate the Super Bowl spot. In an (orange) twist, craft-y little sister Blue Moon’s end-of-spot cameo turned everything on its head.  We loved all the cheekiness, audience involvement and departure from the norm. Helmets off to Molson Coors for making the most of their spend and having the guts to put siblings in the same spot. Joe and Josephine six-pack may have scratched heads seeing three brands at once, while we ad and beer junkies smirked all the way back to the fridge. All three brands’ identities are the better for it.
  • Sam Adams – Your cousin from Boston (sing along with us) was back and better than ever in a spot that aired regionally to tout a remastered, brighter (Sam’s lingo) Boston Lager. How else but by daydreaming a “Brighter Boston” – a place where Sawx fans greet pinstripe-clad Yankee counterparts with bear hugs, and where Southie dwellers implore one another to kindly pahk yah cah in the last remaining spot. For all the flawlessly executed hijinks, that new brighter brew stays front and center throughout, seamlessly melding product and brand stories. Sawx caps off to you Sam…and cousin.
  • Crown Royal – Crown Royal made the most of its 30 seconds by sending props to its native Canada through a wholly unexpected vessel: Foo Fighters front man Dave Grohl. It somehow worked…and rocked…with Grohl paying homage to many things Canadian, from the widely- known (poutine, Celine Dion) to the hilariously mundane (hot water bottles) to the wholly unexpected (“American” football).  Through it all is a laid-back Grohl at work on a rock remix of the Canadian national anthem, bringing it all together.  We loved it for many reasons, not least the spot-on celebrity choice (so what if Grohl isn’t Canadian…it’s about attitude), and even bigger, how the brand chose to lean harder into its Canadian provenance.
  • Bud Light – This was beauty in simplicity: a paean to living in the moment and loving every minute (OK, 30 seconds) of it. If that doesn’t capture what we love about Bud Light…its easy drinkability…than by gosh, what would?  Remarkably relatable celeb “it” couple Miles and Keleigh Teller are refreshingly down to earth, captured grooving in their living room to the dulcet tones of never-ending of on-hold music, fresh Bud Lights in hand. It went down smooth and felt like a long overdue brand reset.
  • Michelob Ultra – Yes, this much-hyped, pre-released return to Bushwood was derivative, kitchen sink over the top and overloaded with talent. But sorry (not sorry), Mich Ultra’s Caddyshack re-do stuck our green. For us, it was a guilty pleasure that, in the end, went even further than the original in taking the starch out of golf, and of course, what should be enjoyed on holes one through 19. In the end, all that talent delivered, from Bryan Cox’s thinly veiled Logan Roy to Tony Romo’s idiot grinned, spot-on take on Bill Murray’s groundskeeper. (And of course, Serena holed out.) Through our marketers’ lens, it was a wholly unapologetic Mich Ultra saying we’re here, we’re huge, get used to us – notably, minus the low-carb lingo. A lifestyle brand for now winning in a challenged category.

Image Credit: Anheuser-Busch