It was a big weekend for the ad industry, thanks to The Football Game Which Shall Not Be Named aka The Big Game. As you’re surely aware, the event presents an incredible (and outlandishly expensive) opportunity to expose brands, products, and ideas to millions of viewers.
It’s not just the massive audience that makes The Big Game so enticing to advertisers. There’s also the fact that it’s the one time every year when it’s virtually guaranteed that people will watch a commercial instead of skipping or flipping, and then they’ll talk about it, write about it, and share it for a solid couple of days. Indeed, ads that stand out often stay in the cultural conversation longer than the final score.
The spots that make the biggest impact often come from agencies that traffic in prestige, trendsetting, and/or rule breaking. They feature big-name talent in front of and behind the camera. And, without fail, the music involved doesn’t simply matter, it’s vital.
Let’s revisit some of the ads that worked best on Sunday and see how they used music to drive the story, support the message, and connect with viewers.
Google | Fixed on Pixel
The spot opens with a cinematic slideshow of photos gone wrong—a struggle that anyone with a smartphone knows all too well. In a record-scratch moment, soundtracked by Missy Elliot (available now from Musicbed), it’s clear that there’s an exciting new solution.
The spot’s hyped-up soundtrack, coupled with funny moments from Amy Schumer, Giannis Antetokounmpo, and Doja Cat, performs a stellar job of explaining the product benefits while keeping us engaged and entertained.
Farmer’s Dog | Forever
Produced by Sanctuary Content
The strongest gameday ad among viewers goes to Forever, an emotional ad from DTC pet food company Farmer’s Dog. The spot earned a 6.56 out of 10 in USA Today’s Ad Meter: this year’s highest rating.
Directed by Filmsupply filmmaker Goh Iromoto, the brand’s first-ever national Big Game spot follows the young protagonist, Ava, and a puppy named Bear on a 60-second journey of their life together. As “Forever” by Lee Fields plays in the background, Ava passes through childhood, college, and motherhood with Bear at her side. Finally, we see a grown Ava lying in bed with her sleeping family. As she quietly sings to Bear—now white and gray—the commercial cuts to a montage of Bear’s memories over the years.
It’s a tearjerker of an ad, but the music doesn’t reflect that. Instead, “Forever”—a 2022 release from the artist Fields—sounds straight out of a sunny day in the ‘60s. We never witness the sad ending we were expecting, but we’re still left in pieces.
He Gets Us | Be Childlike and Love Your Enemies
The buzziest ads of the Big Game are the ones that spark discussion. Cutting through the product placements and celebrity cameos, faith organization He Gets Us aired two spots during Sunday’s game to focus on the teachings of Jesus Christ. While the imagery for each spot differed, the music in both ads was used to drive each ad’s takeaway.
In the first spot, we see still and moving images of children playing and helping each other. Patsy Cline’s “If I Could See The World” offers an added dose of soulful humanity.
Later in the game, the second ad appears with a different sound and message: love your enemies. As “Human” by Rag’n’Bone Man opens the spot, we see image after image of conflict. “Take a look in the mirror, what do you see,” the song asks. “Do you see it clearer, or are you deceived by what you believe?” The music grinds on, and as the images speed up, the song’s hook—”‘Cause I’m only human, after all”—echoes on. It’s a stunning example of how music furthered the message—regardless of where you land on the spectrum.
NFL Super Bowl LVII Commercial | Run With It
Produced by 72andSunny
Ad Age has an excellent overview of this one, complete with insightful context about how the 90-second spot speaks to several strategies the NFL is deploying to strengthen its future.
Starring Diana Flores, quarterback of the Mexico women’s national flag football team, and featuring cameos from the likes of YouTuber Mr. Beast, tennis icon Billie Jean King, and high-school football star Bella Rasmussen, the spot was helmed by Hungry Man director Bryan Buckley. (Fun fact: With 65+ Big Game ad credits to his name, Buckley is known in the industry as the “king of the Super Bowl.”)
The ad features a high-energy cover of “Real Wild Child” by rock icon Joan Jett (available for custom cover on Musicbed ), the perfect musical complement to Flores’ skillful display of agility and elevated athleticism. If authenticity and empowerment are key to the message, Joan Jett is absolutely the way to go.
Amazon | Saving Sawyer
You just have to feel for Sawyer, the real-life rescue dog who stars in Amazon’s 90-second spot “Saving Sawyer.” The guy was living the dream during the Covid-19 lockdown, with his family around 24/7 providing constant scritches and people-food aplenty.
Though he is clearly A Very Good Boy, Sawyer finds himself in the grip of serious separation anxiety when his family returns to school and work, and the domestic devastation begins. If Sawyer can reach it, it will be destroyed. After the family takes stock of the damage, we see them shopping for kennels on Amazon.
We’re meant to believe that Sawyer’s destiny is sealed, that he’ll travel via kennel to a shelter for his canine crimes. Fortunately—and as telegraphed by the wistful song “Love” by Nancy Adams—Sawyer’s ultimate fate is much more adorable.
Jeep® | The Jeep 4xe “Electric Boogie”
Highdive and The Mill
Created by the Jeep brand in partnership with Chicago-based Highdive, the spot features the brand’s new hybrid electric off-roaders: the Jeep Wrangler 4xe and Grand Cherokee 4xe, as animals all over the world get down to “Electric Boogie.”
It’s hard to watch this ad and not crack a smile, but the soundtrack steals the show. Celebrating the song’s 40th anniversary, both the commercial and modernized re-recording features Marcia Griffiths (the original artist), along with Grammy winner Shaggy, Amber Lee, Moyann, and Jamila Falak. And let’s not forget the winking sloth.
It’s fun, exciting, and totally on the nose, but that’s the point.