Football Watching
Football Watching
Football Watching
Football Watching
Football Watching

'That's a Wolf': Reviewing the Super Bowl Food Company Ads

Feb. 13, 2023
As we shut the door on another year of Super Bowl commercials, Senior Editor Andy Hanacek gives his thoughts on the overall portfolio, while also calling attention to the food and beverage ads that stood out from the rest.

On Super Bowl Sunday, I realized it had been 20 years since I covered the Super Bowl professionally, when I was an associate editor at Pro Football Weekly magazine. Therefore, you can only imagine how excited I am to write about it once again, this time for Food Processing!

We put together a preview of the food and beverage ads to watch for on Friday, so if you recorded the game, you can go back and find many of them. But these five are the ones I liked best, and I even added a few “comments” on some of the others, for your enjoyment (or displeasure!):

5. Crown Royal, Thank You Canada: Average to above average with good pacing and great delivery by Dave Grohl, but we all said, almost in unison: “How has Foo Fighters not yet played a Super Bowl halftime show yet?” Get on it, NFL!

4. Doritos, Triangles: This one went on a bit too long for my liking. In my opinion, they could have cut out a few of the scenes that beat us over the head about how viral triangles went. The fashion show, for example, could have gone away, and maybe given a few more seconds to the final award show scene, where we could have gotten a bit more humor. Maybe even given the award winner a zinger of a line to wrap it up?

3. Bud Light, On Hold: I liked this one, but I thought it needed some sort of additional humor to it. I felt like it was missing something. It almost had a punchline at the end when the woman picks up and asks if they are still there, but then misses the mark by putting them back on hold. I feel like that was a missed opportunity. Nevertheless, a good entry.

2. Pop Corners, Breaking Good: I didn’t watch “Breaking Bad,” but the popularity was so high and premise so well-known that even to a non-viewer, this commercial made a lot of sense as a spoof. It fit so well, that I had to look up the scenes that the commercial riffed on, just to see how closely they followed them. Really great work, and had I been more familiar with the “Breaking Bad” series, I may have put this one atop my list.

1. Busch Light, Shelter: Fantastic! My favorite. Busch Light stuck to its typical script of featuring a slightly over the top outdoorsy man giving pointers on how to enjoy the wilderness. Having Sarah McLachlan poke fun at her animal rescue commercials that many of us have seen was a fantastic turn, with the punchline and reaction priceless. It also was just the right length and pacing. I always love it when celebrities/artists show that they don’t take themselves or their work way too seriously, and this is great.

Thoughts on some of the other food-brand commercials:

Pepsi Zero Sugar, Steve Martin and Ben Stiller: I thought the Ben Stiller version was better than the Steve Martin one, unfortunately for the older aged nostalgia lovers out there. I did say, out loud, “Oh man, Steve Martin looks REALLY OLD in this.” The only reason this didn’t rank in the top five was a big one: For me, they handled the ultimate takeaway poorly. Rather than walking away from the commercial thinking I should “try it for yourself” as they verbalized, I walked away thinking, “Wait, so are these guys ACTING like Pepsi Zero Sugar tastes good?” Maybe I should try it for myself, but then again, maybe I am less inclined to do so now?

Hellmann's, Brie and Hamm: Another potential top-five candidate, and I give Hellmann’s kudos for the idea, “brings leftovers to life.” But I don’t think that tagline hit like it should have — it may even be overcome by Pete Davidson telling Hamm and Brie that they taste really delicious, creepy as it was. And, honestly, was there another pun-named celebrity they could have included in order to hammer the “bring to life” point home? They could have had a “standard” actor/actress play the part of the hungry consumer.

Pringles, Stuck: If you haven’t gotten your hand stuck in a Pringles can, you’re doing it all wrong. Nevertheless, there wasn’t anything particularly special about this commercial for me.

Mars Wrigley, M&M’s/Ma&Ya’s: Admittedly, I hadn’t followed the M&M’s spokescandies back-and-forth battle over the last year or so, and because of that, much of the between-the-lines messaging here was lost on me. If you took away all that subtlety, though, even the Ma&Ya’s clam-flavored candies could have had some real humor potential by itself. But it was just a weird commercial for me. My colleague, Erin Hallstrom, has followed this story since the controversy began and loved the commercial series, so I defer to her judgment on this one!

Coors, Miller or … Blue Moon? The commercial wasn’t particularly funny or interesting other than sitting through and wondering which of the company’s OTHER brands was going to pop up at some point and say, “It’s my commercial, not yours.” Enter Blue Moon. Commercial over.

Avocados from Mexico: So, the chipmunk/woodchuck animal that gives Eve the avocado threw me off — was it supposed to be the “anti-snake” from the story of the creation? And I am also confused about the elimination of sin/evil but nakedness remains and is accepted. Anyway, the story felt rushed and crammed in, and I didn’t really connect with it even after reading about it and re-watching it a few times.

Michelob Ultra, Caddyshack: For me, nostalgia works when you don’t reinvent it or squeeze people or products into it. Lots of familiar faces, but with all due respect to Tony Romo and Serena Williams, this didn’t work for me. And opening a bottle of beer is not the same (even taking artistic license) as, you know, blowing up half a golf course to destroy a rodent nemesis. For nostalgia that did work, see Rakuten’s commercial resurrecting “Clueless” as a prime example.

Planters, Roasting Mr. Peanut: Haven’t roasts run past their popularity expiration date by now? Also, I’m sorry, but I can’t stand QR codes on commercials. I’m going to watch the Super Bowl, not head over to some Web site to see the rest of the commercial. And guess what? I didn’t remember to go check it out this morning until I watched the commercial again for this blog post. So, QR codes during a special event like this simply are a waste in my book.

Oikos, Deion Sanders’ family reunion: This felt more like a commercial for the Sanders family, not Oikos, in my opinion. And, really, it wasn’t even that funny or memorable.

Some of the other non-food brand commercials ranked higher than many of these for me — and the best part is, the actual football game was fantastic! On Super Bowl Sunday, there’s nothing better than being forced to decide when the right time to get up from the couch is, whether it’s game time or commercial time! This year, that decision was not easy!

Now, let’s bring back Bud Bowl!

About the Author

Andy Hanacek | Senior Editor

Andy Hanacek has covered meat, poultry, bakery and snack foods as a B2B editor for nearly 20 years, and has toured hundreds of processing plants and food companies, sharing stories of innovation and technological advancement throughout the food supply chain. In 2018, he won a Folio:Eddie Award for his unique "From the Editor's Desk" video blogs, and he has brought home additional awards from Folio and ASBPE over the years. In addition, Hanacek led the Meat Industry Hall of Fame for several years and was vice president of communications for We R Food Safety, a food safety software and consulting company.