Cookies help us deliver our Services. By using our Services, you agree to our use of cookies. Learn More.

Some Super Bowl 2023 Commercials Might Leave You Struggling To Figure Out What They're Selling

Super Bowl LVII is shaping up to be another huge year for commercial lovers, with some of the biggest brands and Hollywood names in the business teaming up for various TV ads. We've already told you about the best television promos so far for the big game, now it's time to go over the commercials and collaborations that will likely leave viewers scratching their heads.

The Super Bowl, which takes place this Sunday, February 12, has been known for wild TV team-ups and pop culture collabs, like Ozzy Osbourne and Justin Bieber, or Dr. Evil and General Motors. For 2023, countless ads got released early on YouTube — a horrible trend that ultimately needs to die. However, those who can handle ruining the surprise have been liking a lot of what they're seeing. There's Busch Light's new campaign with actor Gerald Downey as the Busch Guy, John Cena's team-up with Experian, and then a cleverly Clydesdales-less Budweiser promo starring Kevin Bacon. But instead of just bringing together celebrities and brands like the NFL championship game always does, Super Bowl LVII is kicking off a new trend that will see the companies themselves linking up for the widely-watched sports event.  

Brands are teaming up this year, reportedly to mitigate costs

A February 9 report from The Hollywood Reporter describes how brands are pooling their resources and star power this year, with marketers being on the prowl more than ever now for brand collabs as a way to mitigate costs. According to Warner Bros. Discovery CEO David Zaslav, the advertising market is "very weak" at the moment and even worse than it was during the days of the COVID-19 pandemic. As a result, TV viewers will be seeing companies partnering for commercials this year — potentially muddying the waters of what takeaway they'll remember from the ad.

"The show will be premiered through the Michelob Ultra can," said Ricardo Marques, vice president of marketing at Michelob ULTRA, in a statement about the company's Super Bowl ad collab with Netflix for its new golf documentary "Full Swing," which will be showcased through the use of a QR code that sends viewers to a preview of Episode 1 (via Brand Innovators). "If you scan our Michelob Ultra can, you can access Episode One of the show exclusively for a period of 24 hours on our Michelob Ultra website," Marques said, noting how Netflix has never aired such an ad. "Thematically this is beautifully aligned with our entire campaign, and also gives something of added value to our audience, which is exclusive access to this amazing show." Despite its uniqueness, Michelob is not the only brand that Netflix will be teaming up with this year, nor are they the only media company trying to mitigate costs.

Expect to see ads from DraftKings and Coors, Marvel and Heineken, others

In addition to Michelob, Netflix will also be teaming up with GM this year for a Will Ferrell-led commercial that sees him portraying popular network characters like Dustin Henderson from "Stranger Things" and a competitor on "Squid Game" — in an ad about...electric vehicles? In similar fashion, brands like Coors and DraftKings, Marvel and Heineken, Michelob and Instacart, and a number of others, have also decided to work together on Super Bowl ads this year, which according to marketing execs that spoke to THR under the condition of anonymity, is all due to the market climate. 

"The efficiency argument is pretty compelling, because doing a Super Bowl ad campaign is enormously expensive," explained Northwestern University professor Tim Calkins, who teaches marketing through the Kellogg School of Management. "It's not just the ad time, it's everything that goes around it, all the other events, all the other activities, that becomes wildly expensive." 

Netflix isn't doing any stand-alone ads this year during the big game, which is a first for the streaming giant. According to THR, GM gave Netflix full and total control over creating their commercial and simply provided the vehicles for the entertainment company to use however they saw fit. 

"Netflix is a great partner because of the company's compelling storytelling, commitment to sustainability and track record of sparking conversations that shape cultural trends," said Deborah Wahl, chief marketing officer at GM, in a statement to Brand Innovators. But while that may sound nice, marketing executives who spoke to THR insist that the collabs are multi-million-dollar efforts by the companies to save themselves from spending too much on an ad that could possibly miss the mark. "Years from now, we'll look back on this and say this was kind of a watershed moment," concluded media consultant Brad Adgate.