Updated on March 25, 2023
Super Bowl LVI has come and gone. This year’s big game was between the Los Angeles Rams and the Cincinnati Bengals.
As usual, below are my thoughts on this year’s Super Bowl commercials and halftime show. GeekWire has some of the videos here. I’d link to them individually, but based on my previous Super Bowl posts, they tend to get removed from YouTube after a period of time.
- McDonalds: I, too, have often hesitated at choosing what to get at fast food places.
- eTrade: The eTrade baby (from their ads in the 2000s) is coaxed into coming out of retirement, given the current state of online trading.
- Polestar: While they weren’t the only electric car company to advertise on Sunday’s game, they were the only one to take shots at Tesla and its problematic owner, Elon Musk.
- Rocket Mortgage: An ad using Barbie, Barbie’s Dream House, and… He-Man/Castle Greyskull?
- Google Pixel 6: An ad for Google’s new smartphone, emphasizing how well it handles dark skin tones; something that’s been a problem with camera technology.
The worst ads, by far, were the multiple ones for cryptocurrency companies. I said “multiple,” as there were a lot of crypto ads this year; it felt like a repeat of the dot-com gold rush ads of the late 90s. (Only more ecologically destructive and for a useless product.) Among the cryptocurrency ads:
- Coinbase: The worst ad by far. The minute-long ad featured a QR code bouncing around a screen for nearly the entire ad, with no text on the screen indicating what the code’s for. At the very end is a hard cut to a screen displaying Coinbase’s name. Not only does it feel deceptive (if cryptocurrency’s so great, why trick people into clicking some link like a spammer?), it also goes against every online security tip from the past 20 years, about clicking anonymous links. That said, all that happened was Coinbase’s site crashing.
- FTX: An ad implying that skeptics of cryptocurrency are similar to those that might’ve criticized various historical inventions. Uh-huh. The skeptic is played by Larry David (of “Curb Your Enthusiasm” fame).
- The LeBron James cryptocurrency ad. Really, LeBron?
Also on the “worst ads” list:
- Uber Eats: A very off-color reference to eating… a body part I won’t type here. (*Sigh.*)
If wondering, yes, I’ve seen the “Dr. Strange in the Multiverse of Madness” trailer. However, given I disliked how “WandaVision” turned out (Wanda got away with what she did scot-free, and we’re still supposed to empathize with her?), plus dwindling interest in the MCU post-”Endgame,” this film’s a “skip” for me.
As someone on Twitter pointed out, it’s odd that Warner Bros. didn’t release a similar trailer for their upcoming superhero films. Or at least one for the upcoming “Super-Pets” film—they could’ve played on Krypto’s name, given the rampant cryptocurrency ads mentioned above. (“The only Krypto that has currency… coming to theaters this summer!”)
Elsewhere in film trailers that ran during the game, “Jurassic World Domination”’s premise sounds a lot like “The Flintstones.” There’s even a sauropod at a construction site, and a T. rex at a drive-in movie theater. Though I assume Chris Pratt won’t order giant ribs at a drive-in restaurant, or get locked out of his house.
Streaming services had some presence. I saw ads for HBO Max, Disney+, and AMC+, as well as Peacock (how I watched the game). Oddly, Peacock didn’t pitch the Olympics much, instead pushing the “Fresh Prince of Bel-Air” drama reboot.
A lot of the ads felt like nostalgia for the 90s/00s (and even 80s). References to He-Man; an ad with Jim Carrey reprising his “Cable Guy” film role; an ad with Dr. Evil from “Austin Powers”; and so on. Which fits in with the halftime show…
The halftime show
This year’s halftime show was almost entirely a group of 1990s R&B and rap acts, including: Dr. Dre; Mary J. Blige; Eminem; Snoop Dogg; and Kendrick Lamar. Also, a surprise appearance by 50 Cent. At this point, all save Lamar could be considered “oldies” acts. Still, an entertaining halftime show.
The game itself
As for the game itself, I’m just glad the Patriots or Tom Brady weren’t in it (yet again). However, the Bengals definitely weren’t the team I was expecting to see in a Super Bowl. Still, the Rams won, 23-20, in a game that was actually competitive.
The NFL’s pre-game show had a performance of “Lift Every Voice and Sing.” No doubt the NFL’s attempt at sugar-coating its ongoing problems with racism (as a current lawsuit shows) or how it blacklisted Colin Kaepernick for supporting Black Lives Matter.
That said, recruiting tennis and LGBTQ icon Billie Jean King for the coin toss was a nice gesture. The Rock, I assume, was there to push an upcoming show of his as well as the WWE, both of which are on Peacock.
Photo from Flickr (CC BY / cropped from original)