The Obligatory Super Hole XVII

by Feb 12, 2023

The Kansas City Chiefs, my hometown team, won the Super Bowl for the second time in four years. That’s all I truly care about, to be honest. Nonetheless, I am here for you, my 17 loyal readers who crave a 143rd article about the game-time ads to delay cracking open that first Slack harassment of the morning.

So then. On with the 17th annual Super Hole.

If you were yearning for a celebrity fix, this Super Bowl was for you. If you were yearning for great ads featuring celebrities, well, the slate was decidedly hit-or-miss. Frankly, it’s lazy to toss a celeb into an ad and expect that to be enough. It’s equally lazy to use a setup from one of their past films without adding any twists or decent dialogue and expect it to hit. The film “Clueless” was, is, and forever will be a hoot. The Rakuten spot with Alicia Silverstone channeling her character Cher? Not so much. It’s not enough to bust out catch phrases and visual references. Stop worrying about fan service and worry about being funny. Because you obviously didn’t.

In theory, the spot I should be most enthused about is the Jonas Bro spot for the Dexcom 7 glucose meter. The spot is okay, I supposed. Not exactly a real Super Bowl effort, but that’s not the point. Hmmm, what is the point? I’m not sure given how nearly everyone who could use the Dexcom 7 – myself included – has been aware of it for nearly two years. Waiting, waiting, waiting for the FDA to give its bureaucratic blessing. Which it finally did a few weeks ago. Frankly, if you’re a diabetic and don’t know about things like this (I mean, it’s the seventh generation, for cryin’ out loud), then I’m not sure how concerned you are about your glucose control.

Weathertech was back again with yet another snoozer of a spot. Like the brand, use the brand, would love to do something better for the brand.

Also, was I the only one who felt it odd of T-Mobile to use Travolta and “You’re the One That I Want” just a few months after Olivia Newton-John passed away? No? Okay, fine, you hard-hearted ad folks.

There weren’t that many true clunkers this year. Not in the old-school Go Daddy sense from the mid-aughts. But neither were there many really good spots. Lots of likeable spots. Spots that I’m sure will do well on the USA Today Ad Meter, which is an abomination. Likeability is a foundational element of an ad. It’s a starting point – not the finish line. How many people will say “I liked that ad with so-and-so” without being able to tell you who it was for? Congrats on burnishing the actor’s brand at the expense of your own.

Anyway. Here are my picks for this year’s top five commercials. If you disagree, that’s fine. Write your own blog so the world, or at least my 17 readers, can see how wrong you are.

Standard disclaimer: The selected spots were shown during the actual game itself, so no pre- or post-game ads. Local/regional ads, TV show promos, and movie trailers are likewise excluded.

Here we go. Oh, and all spots have been remastered to 4K, so feel free to go full screen. Now that’s value.

No. 5: Bud Light, “Hold” – A refreshing change of pace for the beer brand once known for trotting out a farting horse. Would I ever bring my own wife a Bud Light while she’s on hold? No, as I would like to stay married to her. Would I dance like a goober and make her laugh while she’s on hold? I know I would. And have. And will continue to do so. Lo-fi if not, I’m sure, low-budget. I mean, I’m sure Miles and Keleigh worked for scale, but their dog has a killer agent.

Nos. 4: Pepsi Zero Sugar, “Great Taste or Great Acting” – These spots edged out Pop Corners’ “Breaking Bad” takeoff due to the presence (presences?) of Steve Martin and Ben Stiller. The spots are just Steve and Ben doing Steve and Ben things. Which, because they’re Steve and Ben, is more than okay. (The movie trope spoofs are spot on, as well.) And the conceit of the spots is quite basic, in a good way. Will the collective powers of Messrs. Martin and Stiller make me switch from Coke Zero Sugar? Maybe. Send me a coupon and find out. Also, eat it, Kyle!


No. 3:, “Love Your Enemies” – Strong, real-life (I’m guessing) visuals and extremely strong music drive home a message for any of us willing to drop our prideful façades.

No. 2: Workday, “Rock Star” – If you spend any time on LinkedIn (and you have my condolences if you do), you’ve seen no small number of profiles with people touting themselves as rock stars, ninjas, or gurus. And job ads requesting those of similar skill and hubris. As finding actual ninjas and gurus is rather difficult (yes, I’ve looked), Workday went tearing down the rock star chicanery with aging, though legitimate, rock-and-rollers. Yes, it’s a montage, but like most things in advertising, if you do it well it’s okay to use a cliched structure. Ozzy and Paul Stanley are the MVPs of this spot, with Gary Clark Jr. (the only non-wrinkly one in the bunch) also acquitting himself nicely.

No. 1: The Farmer’s Dog, “Forever” – There really isn’t much new about this spot for what I can only assume is very expensive dog food. But so what? It works exceedingly well against its target (me) by reminding us that the one thing we really want from our dogs is also the one things we’ll never have – them by our side forever. Hey, even Barbra Streisand can only clone her dogs, which is close but no Milk Bone. Congrats on your emotional manipulation, The Famer’s Dog. You got me.

Honorable mentions include Pop Corners with their “Breaking Bad” takeoff and Sam Adams with a regional spot that didn’t air in my market but I still liked titled “Your Cousin’s Brighter Boston.”