As the Super Bowl kicked off Sunday, so did the commercials.

With a going rate of $7 million for just 30 seconds of airtime, brands also sought to score points with the audience. This year’s lineup of ads relied heavily on celebrity endorsements, pulling big names like Tina Fey, Quinta Brunson, Dan Levy, and even Beyonce herself. The ads also stayed fairly neutral on most topics, with a nod towards nostalgia being popular as well. As an office, Black Twig weighed in on what spots we felt worked and missed the mark for ads this year.

Well-planned Celeb Endorsement: CeraVe, Kawasaki

“The CeraVe ad was a prime example of how to creatively use a celebrity endorsement and placement in an ad. This ad would not be possible without Michael Cera, unlike many other spots riddled with celebrity appearances. CeraVe also ran a lot of pre-promotion generating buzz before the big game.”

– Rebecca

“The CeraVe w/ Michael Cera spoof was pretty effective. First, it made me realize how to pronounce the skincare brand; second, it didn’t feel forced with its celebrity endorsement….it just worked; third, I’m more inclined to buy this in a pinch from the drugstore based on the ad. I like that the brand poked fun at itself without being detrimental to its mission.”

– Lauren

“The Kawasaki ad stole the show in my opinion. They were clearly going for a message that conveyed a free and adventurous lifestyle, and I think they nailed it. First, it was memorable because of how funny it was. But most importantly, the brand was front and center throughout the ad. Finally, its use of celebrity couldn’t have been more on point, with a cameo from Stone Cold Steve Austin. ‘Business up front… Party in the back.'”

– Nick

Wildcards that Surprised Us: Etsy, Michelob Ultra, Microsoft, Pfizer, Dove, NFL

“The Etsy commercial had an original concept and didn’t rely on any big names to do the legwork. It was funny, well-produced, and planted the seed that Etsy isn’t just for handmade items but for gifts for any kind of ‘lover.'”

– Rebecca

“The Messi / Michelob Ultra ad was interesting. Beer commercials can sometimes follow tired tropes, but I thought this one did a really underrated job at promoting the Michelob Ultra brand. It’s touted as a “Superior” light beer. You can’t get any more superior than Lionel Messi while portraying an easy-going yet active lifestyle. High marks from me.”

– Nick

“Microsoft’s AI ad did a good job of presenting how AI can help with real world situations without the fear that has been crammed down our throats.”

– Rafael

“The NFL Born To Play global program spot was good and touching. Pfizer’s Science ad was surprising, celebrating science, and I loved that. And Dove’s body confidence ad also is one that worked for me. These aren’t flashy and didn’t need a huge celebrity to get the point across.”


The Mixed Opinion: Dunkin

“I certainly was unimpressed by the Dunkin’ ad. To me, it leaned on using celebrities and not much more. I know it was part of a narrative, but nothing about the commercial made me want to buy a coffee or donut. It created some buzz, I suppose, but in terms of branding, I think it fell short.”

– Nick

“DunKings, I thought, was effective because the humor hit the mark. Before I saw the commercial, I saw a TMZ post about how funny they thought it was. Their posting about it may have drawn my interest to the ad, demonstrating the power of third-party insight/opinions.”

– Greg

What Flopped: Poppi

“I thought the Poppi ad was a big failure. I was super annoyed by their repetitive mention of the word soda; it was like I was being beaten over the head with the message. I get it; they’re honing in on the soda market and not necessarily beverages overall, but as a soda lover, I will never associate soda with Poppi. ”

– Greg

“I thought Poppi’s ad fell short. They could have done so much more but instead created a minute-long spot showing idyllic yet generic millennials that got lost in the mix. This could have been more successful if they strayed from their bright branding and appealed to a wider audience.”

– Rebecca

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Earned Media Opportunities

We love earned media at Black Twig. There is nothing that influences potential buyers quite like third-party validation and endorsement. The secret sauce is finding ways to earn that media exposure without having to buy an ad.