Super Bowl LVII Commercials: Dunkin,' T-Mobile and PopCorners Were Tops

By Ed Martin Report Archives
Cover image for  article: Super Bowl LVII Commercials: Dunkin,' T-Mobile and PopCorners Were Tops

The line at my local Dunkin' Donuts drive-thru this morning doesn't appear to be any longer than usual. How can this be, the morning after the company's memorable commercial featuring Ben Affleck and Jennifer Lopez made its debut during the Super Bowl, which makes available to advertisers the largest television audience of the year? Shouldn't there be more cars than usual lining up to run on Dunkin'?

In fairness, I can't say that business at my local Dunkin' reflects how busy any of the company's many locations might be today … nor if any of them have had a run on glazed treats. Still, it's not uncommon for me to wonder the morning after television's biggest day of the year if the extreme expense companies authorize to develop, execute and secure real estate for ads that will be included in the annual Super Bowl media frenzy is worth it.

I don't mean to specifically pick on the Dunkin' Drive-Thru spot -- which, I should point out, was actually my favorite of all the ads I saw during the game. But, despite its entertainment value, can the unexpected sight of Ben Affleck manning a drive-through window at a Bedford, MA, Dunkin' (not to mention JLo pulling up outside) influence consumer habits? Wouldn't an engaging social media campaign (without big stars) accomplish the same thing (at a fraction of the cost)?

I know … I sound like a Super Bowl party pooper. But the world has changed -- a lot -- in recent years. Lately it seems to change by the month. Certainly, the technical aspects of televised football coverage, especially at but not limited to the Super Bowl, have dramatically progressed … to such an extent that even folks like me, who don't follow football, can get caught up in the game itself. Last night -- especially during the second half -- I was so into watching the Kansas City Chiefs and Philadelphia Eagles in play that the commercials at times felt like irritating interruptions rather than a reason to have tuned in.

Read Jeff Minsky's take on the Super Boel ads here.

This recurring feeling of annoyance was often exacerbated by the appearance during commercials of QR codes on my screen and voiceovers urging me to scan them. I get that interactivity is a thing, but I had no interest in watching the full roast of Mr. Peanut or getting a free digital collectible from Scan Now. I see value in QR codes, but not when I'm trying to remain focused on an exciting live event … or enjoy Super Bowl snacks.

Collectively, the ads may have left me adrift, but several stood out from the overcrowded crowd. You likely saw a lot of messaging about them on social media during the telecast, and you've probably seen them in most reviews of the big show. There aren't a lot listed below, because there wasn't much to say about most of them. They include:

PopCorners: Breaking Good-- First they turned up in the final half-season of AMC's Better Call Saul, and now this! What a treat to see Bryan Cranston and Aaron Paul as Walter White and Jesse Pinkman yet again (and also Raymond Cruz as Tuco Salamanca). I'm not about to buy the product (I've consumed more than enough PopCorners on JetBlue flights over the years) but I appreciate the effort.

GM and Netflix: Why Not EVs? -- Two powerhouses joined forces to promote electric cars in this funny spot starring Will Ferrell, who was seen driving an EV through several Netflix productions, from Bridgerton to Squid Game.

Tubi Taking Control of the Screen -- Sheer genius. This jarring spot demanded attention, because at first it didn't seem to be a commercial at all. I thought my cat had stepped on the remote. Then I grabbed it and inadvertently clicked away from the Super Bowl for a few seconds. Not since the final moments of The Sopranos finale have I been so happily pranked

T-Mobile: Bradley Cooper and His Mom -- The two best technology ads of the night were from T-Mobile. This one played on the relationship between one of our top movie stars and his mother. She is a delight. As for the other one:

T-Mobile: "Neighborly"--John Travolta, Zach Braff and Donald Faison sing about T-Mobile's 5G Home Internet to the tune of "Summer Nights" from Grease. I imagine that consumers this week will be asking about this new technology … not just because the commercial was memorable, but because when paired with the right streaming platforms this tech is a smart alternative to cable. (I know this because they are spreading through my condo complex and the feedback from my neighbors is universally positive.)

Rakuten: Not-So-Clueless -- It might be a little too generous for me to call this one of the best … but who among you didn't smile when you saw Alicia Silverstone recreate her iconic role as Cher Horowitz from the 1995 movie? Also, unlike most of the ads last night, this one put the spotlight on something that was not already well known. Will Rakuten stick? I don't have a clue. But the spot was fun.

Bud Light: Easy to Drink, Easy to Enjoy -- Miles Teller and his wife dancing while waiting on one of those endless holds we all suffer through didn't do much for me as an ad for beer, but it was fun to watch. And it was a commercial with a dog in it that made me smile (see below).

All the Movie Commercials -- Two words: "I'm Batman."

These were among my least favorite ads:

The Farmer's Dog and Amazon: Saving Sawyer -- They were touching spots for dog food and Amazon, respectively, but there were moments in both when I thought the beloved family pooch in their stories was going to that sunny dog park in the sky. I love ads structured around sweet animals as much as anyone … but reminders (however gentle or fleeting) that one's pet will one day be gone is never good for business ... not for mine, anyway.

Hellmann's: Who's in the Fridge -- It takes a special skill of some kind to feature Jon Hamm, Brie Larson and Pete Davidson in a goofy ad for a food product and have it turn out so unappealing.

M&Ms … Now with Clams -- Talk about losing one's appetite. This was easily the most nauseating commercial of the night ... maybe of many nights. M&Ms chose to colorfully associate their traditionally tasty treats with chewing on clams. Yuck! Pass the Hershey Kisses, please.

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