Super Bowl Sunday came and went with all the hype and hoopla. For fans, it was all about the Rams and the Bengals – a contest that delivered plenty of chaos in the end. But there was a bigger battle being played out by many more than two competitors looking for touchdowns with consumers.

The stakes were high for the eyeballs. At an eye-watering price of $7m for 30 seconds of airtime in the coveted halftime spotlight, the big question is… who was getting all the attention? And attention is what it’s all about – studies demonstrate the clear connection between consumer attention and brand performance, so the pressure was on.

In the past, advertisers relied on ratings, surveys, and viewership numbers. But with more devices in our hands, the way we watch and consume content has splintered, making the old way of counting eyeballs outdated to say the least. But with new tech that can track ‘eyes on screens, during real-world viewing situations’ the picture is much clearer. Amazingly, this tech has shown that over the last three years, the ads held the attention of viewers aged 18-34 more than the game itself. This really is a giant, real-world example of the tail wagging the dog. 

At half-time, the show kicked off with a great mix of hip-hop and R&B legends including Dr Dre, Kendrick Lamar, Eminem, Snoop Dogg, and others. This combo set the scene for the battle of the eyeballs, with some good old-fashioned nostalgia, a healthy dose of electric vehicle messaging, and plenty of big names thrown into the mix. Here’s our pick of the memorable… and not so memorable.

Pringle’s ‘Stuck on You’ keeps the story going.

Fans of Pringles know the dangers of getting a hand stuck in the iconic can trying to dig out that last chip. That’s the premise of this spot, with our hero getting his hand wedged, then living out the rest of his days with it stuck in the can – from high school, his wedding day, birth of the first child all the way through to his funeral. Alas, it’s at the wake that a young mourner sees an open Pringle can and dives in for that last chip and lo and behold, the story begins again. Good fun. Nice idea. Even if there isn’t much actual product being crunched…

BMW EV. Arnie and Salma do dress ups.

Arnie would have had lots of fun doing this one. Plenty of dress ups with he and Salma Hayak as Zeus and Hera in retirement (who comes up with this stuff?). Arnie gets sick of having to zap everyone’s under-charged electric equipment (hedge clippers, golf carts etc), but comes good when the Mrs brings home the new Electric Beemer – and what a cool beast the iX is. The cornball ending where they sing along to Electric Avenue is schmaltzy, but who cares? It’s Arnie! 

Budweiser drops a clanger.

Beer ads are usually a lay down misere. The best ones love nothing better than poking fun at themselves and their beer drinking audience and everyone gets in on the fun. But this syrupy effort from Bud featuring a good looking horse and a good looking dog just seems like a tragic waste of $7m (not to mention the hefty production costs). Essence. Horse gets hurt jumping barbed wire for no particular reason. Dog comes to rescue applying bandages with no opposable thumb which is some trick – or was that the Vet? Anyway, Horse takes a turn for the worst. Miraculously recovers. Returns as hero. Slow mo of dog and horse running. Fade to tagline ‘In the home of the brave, down never means out.’ What does it all mean?

Chevy wakes up and gets itself a gun.

This is a cracking piece of nostalgia with a scene-for-scene reshoot of the Soprano’s opening credits by David Chase – the guy who directed the original back in the 90s. The driving beat of the opening score from the famous HBO series is back as are both Tony Soprano’s son and daughter from the show (even though they got ‘whacked’ in the series – but let’s not get lost in continuity issues). As James Gandolfini obviously couldn’t reprise the role, number 1 daughter takes the wheel (next gen product messaging right there) and there are lovely little touches that nod to the past and the future. As the ad plays out, the Silverado EV is revealed instead of Tony’s old gas guzzler. A classic.

Amazon uses the talent well, but what about the product?

Almost every Super Bowl ad had big name talent this year and Amazon was no different with Scarlett Johansson and hubby Colin Jost testing out the capacity for Amazon’s Alexa to second guess their every need. The idea of Alexa being able to “read their minds” plays out in a series of semi-humorous fantasy scenes where, on reflection, we learn that it’s all a bit awkward for Alexa to be reading minds after all. So what does that say about Alexa? Has anyone stopped to think about how it trashes the product? Oh well, fun use of talent anyway.

Coinbase shuns personalities for a screensaver.

You couldn’t find a more different ad for Super Bowl if you tried. No personalities. No production values. Just a nutty electro pop track and a QR code bouncing slowly around the screen on a black backdrop for 60 seconds. How many fans or viewers pointed their camera at the screen to scan the code and get spirited away to Coinbases’ landing page and promo credit? Who knows? But if it had been 30 seconds or under, it might have been seen as some kind of oddity and ignored. At 60 seconds, it was long enough to capture attention. Probably takes the cake for wackiest ad at this year’s big game.

Even if you’ve spent a whole lot less on your campaign than these guys did, Sesimi is the Brand Management platform to store your assets in one solid place and roll out campaigns in the blink of an eye. We’ll protect your marketing investment and make sure you save so much that you might be able to throw your hat in the ring at half time next year.