The pinnacle of American Football is also the pinnacle of TV ads! Here’s a roundup of the work shown yesterday during the game, along with a few of our picks.

Super Bowl 53 sold adspace at a little over $5 million for 30 seconds. If you’re spending that on airtime, you better make it work. Some succeeded. Some….. did not. Like the game, there are winners and losers. But without a scoreboard, that’s up to you to decide.

AdAge has a handy list of all the ads flighted during the game, which includes one for Devour Foods written by none other than South African Melusi Mhlungu. It’s awesome watching local talent see their dreams come true. More of that, please.

The ad needed to tone it down for game day, but you can watch the uncensored version in all its double-entendre’d glory here:

Once again, congrats!

It’s difficult to look at the ads as a single, unified whole. Passing judgement on the industry based on the collective work feels disingenuous. There’s a lot of schtick, and a lot of tugs on heartstrings. Can we draw meaningful conclusions like this? Should we even bother? Vox attempts to, and theirs is not favourable:

“They weren’t ads so much as frantic pop culture mashups, and they rarely felt like commercials for specific products but rather some notion of a capitalist society in general.”

Heavy. Super Bowl advertising is a phenomenon; a cultural microcosm feeding off its own energy to become a hyperbolic caricature of something fairly simple: an opportunity to reach a lot of people at the same time. Broken down to those basics, it’s obvious why this mania around the format thrives: this is nothing special: the web does it every day. In advertising it’s considered the gold standard. Should it be? I mean, the ads have teasers now. Teasers, dammit!

And yet, we persevere: the hype, the cost, the stakes;
it builds tension, elevating the work to something more than mere TV spots.
Much like the Super Bowl itself.

It’s the championship game for a sport played in virtually one country, after all. It’s no Football World Cup.

One brand cut through the bullshit. Last year, Skittles used a slot during the US’ most-watched TV moment and made an ad for one person. This year, they forewent TV entirely and made a Broadway musical, opting for buzz instead of eyeballs. Apparently it gets very meta. We would expect nothing less. Ironically, next year, we will expect something more. Until then, please enjoy this playlist on Spotify.

Enough about the ad that wasn’t an ad! There was some really cool work to appreciate. Here’s a few of our favourites:

Jordan: Head Gorilla

Pepsi. “A perfect blend of pop culture fun and consumer insight to land the message – Pepsi is OK!”

Hyundai. “This nails showcasing the convenience of your product, by comparing it to how shitty the alternative can be.”

Mint Mobile. “Bleh. Chunky Milk! Awesome insight that can be executed a million times and land the same point in a funny way.”

Jeanne-Marie : Business Unit Director

Bud Light X Game Of Thrones. “They took my favourite show ever and unexpectedly wove it into an ad in a way I never would have thought possible. It was pulled off beautifully.”

Zahira : Head of Social

Olay. “Sarah Michelle Gellar is synonymous with horror flicks, so spot on to who she is and the genre. The end is flat, but I love the humour of it. They don’t try too hard to fit into the meme culture of every other ad that played at the Superbowl, but still keep it current with facial recognition. It’s also targeted at females during a Super Bowl!”

Extra Time

You thought you were getting out of here without a sports pun? Pshaw. Mercedes-Benz had an ad in the mix, and the added bonus of their name on the venue. But what grabbed our attention is an errant Tweet about how boring the game was, and winning, in our mind at least, the Oreo Best Tweet of the Game award. Too bad they deleted it.

Yoh. What shade.