YPSILANTI, MI – Quiet! Shhh!

It’s time to watch Super Bowl commercials, so hush so I can watch them, one family member inevitably says to another every Super Bowl Sunday.

Now it’s Monday morning afterwards, and you want to talk about your favorite ads with your friends and coworkers. Thanks to an Eastern Michigan University professor and marketing veteran, you have a tool to guide your discussion.

Joseph Radding, a full-time EMU lecturer of advertising, marketing and communications, developed a 10-criteria model to rate each advertisement. The criteria include originality, how on brand the messaging is, how striking the visuals are and more. For a full breakdown of the “Radding Rating” system, click here.

Read more: We all love Super Bowl commercials. This EMU prof has crafted a tool to rate them.

One trend this year was the glut of celebrity cameos, he said, as 80% of commercials featured at least one. The best commercials this year found celebrities that were a good fit for the brands they represented, he said.

“Sometimes celebrities are a good fit for the brand, the idea, and the message, and sometimes celebrities seem gratuitous in the absence of a big concept,” he said.

Another trend included half of the commercials coming from first-time Super Bowl advertisers such as cryptocurrency exchanges and betting sites, he said. Also, there was little to no COVID-19 pandemic messaging, he said, as he noted the commercials “focused on fun and entertainment.”

This year about 40-50% of commercials are from first time Super Bowl advertisers. These include Rakuten, Caesars Sportsbook, Booking.com, Quickbooks, and cryptocurrency exchange Bitbuy. Some companies that sat out last year, or longer, are back, including Expedia (after 10 years) and Taco Bell (after a five-year absence).

Commercials cost $7 million for 30 seconds, he said, but maybe a little less for companies that bought ads in the past.

Radding provided his thoughts on the Super Bowl ads that combined all the elements to make a positive impression in a buyer’s mind. Let’s look at the good, the bad and the ugly, or as Radding put it, “the best, the meh and the worst.”

Super Bowl ads 2022

This photo provided by Uber Eats shows a scene from Uber Eats 2022 Super Bowl NFL football spot. ( Uber Eats via AP)AP

The Best

The Nissan Z “Thrill Drive” ad with actors Eugene Levy, Brie Larson and others caught Radding’s eye on all the criteria. The theme was that the car transformed Levy, known for his deadpan roles in Schitt’s Creek and the American Pie movie series, into an action movie star, Radding said.

“The message is clear; driving the new Z will be a thrilling and transformative experience,” he said, giving the commercial a near perfect score by noting the visuals were an excellent replication of stereotypical Hollywood car chases.

He also noted the memorability of the Swedish electric car manufacturer Polestar’s advertisement, which made not-so-subtle jabs at different stunts done by Tesla owner Elon Musk.

“The simple yet dramatic visuals plus the clear contrast drawn with competitors for their overblown advertising and questionable practices, including greenwashing, dieselgate, and ‘conquering Mars,’ makes this unique spot for electric vehicle maker Polestar a standout,” Radding said.

For food commercials, he praised the Lay’s Chips ad featuring Seth Rogen and Paul Rudd, as well as the Uber Eats’ “Uber Don’t Eats” ad that showed celebrities foolishly eating inedible products. The point of the latter ad was to show Uber Eats does not just deliver food, and the visuals conveyed that message clearly to the audience, he said.

“While some of the sequences are a bit cringeworthy, overall, the spot is effective at communicating its message,” he said.

He also gave “A” grades to the Guy Fieri Bud Light Hard Seltzer ad, the Amazon Alexa one with Scarlett Johannson and Colin Jost, the Squarespace one with Zendaya, the Booking.com one with Idris Elba, the Expedia one with Ewan McGregor and the Google Pixel 6 one with Lizzo.

Mike Myers as Dr. Evil in Super Bowl commercial

Mike Myers as Dr. Evil in General Motors’ Super Bowl commercial.General Motors

The Meh

Radding came away unenthused by two big-time automotive campaigns. The first was BMW’s electric iX brand, which featured Arnold Schwarzenegger as Zeus and Salma Hayek as Hera.

While the visuals of Schwarzenegger and Hayek as Greek gods retiring to Palm Springs was amusing, he found the commercial “off brand” for BMW.

“BMW’s excellent tagline for decades has summed up their brand position as The Ultimate Driving Machine,” he said. “Despite their modification of their tagline for this spot as The Ultimate Electric Driving Machine, this commercial hasn’t demonstrated why this is true.”

The other automotive campaign that did not click for Radding was General Motors’ electric vehicle push done with the Dr. Evil character from the Austin Powers movie series. GM had Dr. Evil and his fellow villains introduce the #EVerybodyIn hashtag as a call to action to “save the world before they take it over,” but the message comes way too late in the ad to be an effective motivator for the consumer, Radding said.

“This commercial seems more like a promo for a new Austin Powers movie spinoff featuring Dr. Evil and crew who are on a new mission to save the world,” he said. “Other than the final frame of the commercial, where the Evil crew drives off in a Hummer EV and we get to briefly see a couple of the other EVs offered by GM in the background, we don’t get a sense of how everybody gets into an EV from GM.”

The Worst

There are just too many sports betting and online gambling commercials all year, Radding said. Nothing by DraftKings, Caesar Sportsbook and FanDuel landed for him at all, assigning them all “F” grades.

“No matter how clever, amusing, or memorable, these are all terrible because they are all overdone,” he said. “These brands have reached oversaturation and burnout. Everyone who is interested already knows about it. Just stop. Just stop already.”

He also especially hated Facebook’s new concept for a “Metaverse.” Not only does the concept of a fully digital, virtual reality world not exist yet for the company, the underlying message has sad implications, Radding said.

“Lots of people have Zoom fatigue from years of online video meetings,” he said. “The idea of a new way to connect with people is appealing. But this vision from Meta (and it is only a vision since the capability to do what they are showing doesn’t yet exist) is not at all appealing.”

Lastly, he found the Irish Spring commercial more creepy than engaging, describing something more like the 2019 horror movie “Midsommar.”

“Creepy forest cult requires washing with Irish Spring soap as part of their indoctrination ritual? Nope,” he said.

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