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Super Bowl commercials the good, the bad, the ugly.

I didn’t have a dog in the fight this year. But when one is born and raised in the San Francisco Bay area, opposition to the Rams, Dodgers, and the Lakers is part of one’s DNA.


Still I couldn’t help but admire the Rams defensive line that sacked Joe Burrow, the Bengals quarterback, again, again and again. Bottom line, I have to wait until next year for the 9ers.


The game aside, the commercials this year generated eye-watering amounts of money to NBC and star power that only Hollywood could deliver to the major marketing event on the planet.


Revenue for commercials for this year’s Super Bowl was about $600 million. Serious coin for a single program. But the commercials don’t just cost the airtime ($6.5 million for 30 seconds, $13 million for 60 seconds). The talent is pricey, and this year more than any other, the commercials featured high profile celebrities flogging everything from beer and potato chips to mortgage lending, electric vehicles and 5G phone service.


Everyone from Arnold and Salma Hayek promoting the new BMW EV to Ana Kendrick selling mortgages, Seth Rogan and Paul Rudd doing their potato chip thing and Scarlett Johansen and her husband demonstrating Amazon’s Alexa, to name a few.


The Rams’ team members each got $101,000 in bonus money for winning the Super Bowl, but the movie stars score much more dinero for appearing in their commercial work. So, besides the cost of the airtime ($6.5 > $13 million), celebrities typically pick up anywhere from $500,000 to $2,000,000 for promoting everything from sea shells to the metaverse to the Hard Rock cafe. Some are paid more.


For example, here are some past pay checks – Super Bowl commercial stars and the amounts they were paid, leaked from various sources: Kate Upton was paid $1 million for her appearance in a milk bath for the Game of War video game, Arnold was paid $3 million for a Bud Light Super Bowl commercial in 2014 and Brad Pitt picked up $4 million back in 2005 for a Heineken commercial.


Celebrities attract eyeballs…and get paid for it. (This year’s viewership clocked in at 101.1 million.)




So, with airtime, cost of talent, production costs and the director’s fees, figure $10 to $20 million depending on the length of the spot. Yet it is stunning to me that corporate marketing directors or CEOs approve these multi-million dollar budgets when the commercials position their products with harm, damage or loss in an apparent effort to be funny, not to sell.


This is a a disease, probably borne out of some Harvard MBA class that has metastasized to ad agencies and corporate marketing departments that humor sells and that humor is generated by some kind of negative, damaging or disparaging occurrence.




Scarlett Johansson and her husband, comic Colin Jost, “stared” in a commercial for Amazon’s Alexa, which is kind of a video butler. Now I am a Scarlett Johansson fan (who isn’t) and she and her husband go through various scenes where in there is the implied possibility that Alexa can read minds. It’s kind of silly but OK, then at the end, Alexa announces to dining table full of guests that Colin left the oysters in his car for five hours at which point everybody at the table chokes and  barfs out their oysters onto their plate.


See the last scene for yourself – everyone  is regurgitating oysters at the end of the commercial.




Really? Is this supposed to be funny? Do you think you are going to sell more Alexas cutting a commercial the last scene of which positions the product with a table full of friends regurgitating oysters?




There’s a Pepsi commercial staring Payton and Eli Manning the great NFL quarterback brothers, both now retired. They are about to watch the Super Bowl, they toss jabs back and forth as Eli drinks Pepsi and Payton munches on Lays potato chips. Then, famed NFL running back Jerome Bettis storms into the house in an effort to get them on a bus to the game. Payton says no so Bettis ties a tow line from bus to the house, drives off and rips the living room out of the house.




There’s more but please tell me why you couldn’t produce a Super Bowl commercial staring Eli and Payton Manning promoting Pepsi  without destroying their house?


What’s the message? Drink Pepsi, get your living room demolished?




There are others.


The Seth Rogen, Paul Rudd commercial promoting Lays potato chips ends with Seth marrying a ghoul that looks like she has been dug up from the grave. You know, something out of the walking dead.


The commercial ends with the picture of this ghastly looking female. Just the positioning that would prompt you to run to the store and grab a bag of Lays potato chips.






And the Hellmann’s mayonnaise commercial is 60 seconds of people being slammed to the floor, the last of which is Kim Kardashian’s new squeeze, Pete Davidson.




Like I said, it’s a disease. But, thankfully, they are not all produced this way. With a Dolly Parton introduction Miley Cyrus belts out a ballad promoting T-Mobile’s 5G network. Miley displays some really impressive vocal chops. The lyrics are weird but the girl can sing. And the maps that compare T Mobile coverage to Verizon’s  are very convincing.




If I were in the market for a new pickup, the commercial for the new Chevy Silverado EV pickup would get me to the dealer for a test drive.




But the commercial that really scored, that got the public to REACH, was that of Coinbase, the largest cryptocurrency exchange in the U.S.


The super clever commercial was 60 seconds of a QR code floating across the screen. That’s it. No audio, no “hot button” text, just the floating QR code.


The result? 20 million people copied the QR code, and went to the Coinbase site. The volume was so intense, it temporarily crashed their server. Coinbase has yet to reveal how many of those 20 Million visitors signed up for a new account.


That is what is what you call marketing success – a commercial that gets a response, a huge response, a huge reach.


So, how did they know? How did they know what to offer that would get a response?


They survey.


That’s right, Coinbase surveys both their existing customers and their prospects to find out what they need and want or consider valuable.




You think Amazon conducted surveys that suggested they position their brand with people getting sick at dinner, or that Hellmanns’ research revealed that seeing people get knocked to the ground would motivate more mayonnaise sales?


Surveys let you know what is in the mind of your publics (both existing customers and prospects). They open the door to more leads, more sales and more income.


How do I know?


We have been conducting surveys and increasing sales and income for clients for more than 25 years



I want to thank you and your team for the amazing survey On Target performed for Energy Professionals. 


We have been using your survey results for our website, all of our marketing materials, our training for our sales reps and for the foundation of all our company communications.  One of the results we have achieved using this information was our highest ever sales last month.


Your services are very valuable, and we will be back for more surveys.


Sincerely yours,



Jim Mathers


Energy Professionals, LLC.


If you want to increase your sales and income, give me a call or shot me an email.





Bruce Wiseman

President & CEO

On Target Research