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Super Bowl 2023 Ads That Actually Made Us Buy Something - Looper Staff Confessions

Every year in the middle of winter, the entire country comes together to watch big beefy guys wearing shoulder pads wrestle over a pointy oval ball, and there's also a concert and some commercials thrown in for good measure. Super Bowl commercials have become a behemoth over the years, bringing in huge stars to get people to buy things or subscribe to stuff, and 2023 is no exception.

In fact, these commercials are now typically released ahead of the big game in question, so we were already gifted a handful of Super Bowl commercials to enjoy before the Kansas City Chiefs and the Philadelphia Eagles face off in Arizona. Whether we caught them during the big game or went looking for these big-budget commercials beforehand, a handful of Looper staffers are here to break down the Super Bowl ads that worked on them this year and maybe even got them to buy something.

Nina Starner - Alicia Silverstone had me sold on Rakuten

Coming into this Super Bowl season (or, if you're a fellow "What We Do in the Shadows" fan, this "Superb Owl season"), I had no idea what Rakuten was. If I'm being really honest with you, dear reader, I'm still not certain what Rakuten is. I think it helps save money when you're online shopping? Whatever. That's not my point. My point is that I want to thank them for putting Alicia Silverstone back into her iconic yellow plaid.

"Clueless" is easily in my top five favorite movies of all time, and thanks to whatever Rakuten is and fashion designer Christian Siriano — who recreated several of the film's iconic outfits and also cameos as a fellow student — Alicia Silverstone is back at the debate podium, telling the room about how Rakuten, like, totally helped her save money. Elisa Donovan is even back as the dismissive Amber, arguing against Silverstone's Cher Horowitz and clad in the feathery black outfit she also wears in the movie's original scene. Is Rakuten pandering to fans like me? Definitely yes. Am I going to use it while I go online and shop for all manner of Cher-inspired '90s outfits, including whatever yellow plaid suit sets I can find that aren't a Halloween costume? Maybe!

Oh, one last thing — I'm a native Philadelphian with the city's area code (215) tattooed on my arm, so legally, I am required to close this post by saying "GO BIRDS."

Russell Murray - Paramount+ convinced me to stick it out with Netflix a little longer

It's hard to imagine a more confusing, misguided attempt at a big-budget Super Bowl push than Paramount+'s "Stallone Face" ad. Bearing the unintentionally ironic title "A Mountain of Entertainment," all it shows would-be subscribers is how little the streamer actually has to offer.

Representing Paramount+'s offerings are Beavis and Butt-Head, Dora (yes, the explorer), two "Star Trek" characters unrecognizable to casual and/or legacy fans, "RENO 911!'s" Lt. Jim Dangle (Thomas Lennon), and — of course — Sylvester Stallone and his three daughters. Charitably, I can see what the ad is trying to say: "Hey! We have kids content, adult animation, a classic sitcom, A-List genre fare, and a gritty episodic drama starring a movie star — we're just like all those other streamers, so why not throw your money here!" But that's just the problem, isn't it? Why on earth this ad wasn't centered around Harrison Ford is beyond me.

As a non-subscriber, this ad just proved to me that Paramount+ offers the same vague, predictable entertainment as any other streamer out there. If this is the competition, I might as well stick it out with Netflix for five more episodes of "You" and save the money afterward.

Pauli Poisuo - Dave Grohl x Crown Royal was an MCU lifesaver

I've always thought of Dave Grohl as a pretty stand-up dude as rock stars go, so when I saw him in that Crown Royal ad I was all, "Sweet, Dave Grohl's in a Crown Royal ad." I've been aware of Crown Royal, but never tried it. Now that Grohl did the ad and I was all, "Sweet, Dave Grohl's in a Crown Royal ad," I figured I might as well check it out.

When I started googling Crown Royal prices, I goofed up and typed "Royal Crown," and spent 40 minutes reading about monarchies on Wikipedia before remembering that I was supposed to do a Dave Grohl-themed thing instead. So I returned to figuring out which Foo Fighters album I should get, but then realized that I already have a couple, and haven't really cared for their more recent stuff anyway, which is a shame because Dave Grohl is a pretty stand-up dude as rock stars go.

I recommenced my journey into the wiki rabbit hole, free-falling from Foo Fighters to Wembley Stadium to British prime ministers to Falkland Islands to asado BBQ to soccer. That reminded me that my digital season ticket has been acting dodgy, so I dug into my emails to get that sorted out. There, I noticed that I'd accidentally purchased my "Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania" ticket to a theater in another city. There's no way they're gonna refund me, because movie theaters, amirite? Still, I noticed early enough that I could at least buy a ticket to a screening closer to home.

So, because of Dave Grohl, I don't have to go watch "Quantumania" in another city, which is nice. It would've been a whole thing, because I'd have to camp out at Starbucks to work on articles after the movie, and people would think I'm the "working on my script at Starbucks" guy, and I don't wanna be that guy. Thanks, Dave! You're a pretty stand-up dude, as rock stars go. Didn't I see you in an ad somewhere?

Nick Staniforth - Will Ferrell's GM ad... for Netflix?

Will Ferrell can sell us just about anything. That loveable goof that has left our sides splitting over the years will guarantee a sale if it's got his iconic mug stamped on the product. Unfortunately, in his recent ad with General Motors, we're swinging less towards getting a car and more torn over whether to keep our Netflix subscription. We know this is supposed to be tooting the horn of GM's new line of EVs, but it's hard out there, right? One car that comes with a plug socket is the same price as 500+ years worth of Netflix. That's a lot of repeat viewings of "Seinfeld" we still have yet to complete, and who knows when that might disappear.

Both have their perks, of course. One can get you from A to B and has less of an impact on the environment. Although, the other is cheaper and will eventually have the final season of "Stranger Things." Decisions, decisions. There's also the argument that getting an EV will leave your parents asking a bajillion questions about it, whereas, with Netflix's plans, you won't have to share your account with them anymore pretty soon. Sorry, GM, but we pick TUDUM over tires this time.

Kim Bell - Your cousin from Boston has me buying six-packs of Sam Adams

I friggin' hate Sam Adams. And yet, I have to admit I have a soft spot for Your Cousin from Boston (Gregory Hoyt). For my friends out here in Wisconsin, where I've lived for the past seven years, Your Cousin from Boston is a character. For me, he's my actual cousin, aunt (pronounced AHnt, not ANT), uncle, parents, other cousins, best friend, best friend's mom, and sister Diana (pronounced [censored]). And these ads remind me of the things I've been missing out on since leaving home, like: fighting with said sister over the clicka and/or sofa, bangin' a uey before the rotary, gambling with 'the T,' automatically assuming someone wants to "start ****" with me, shouting "Yankees Suck" at hockey and basketball games and in the shower, and being wholly incapable of using an indoor voice, sincere tone, or turn signal.

Furthamaw, they're some of the few on-screen representations of an accent I grew up hearing and speaking with, before The Establishment ground whole parts of it out of me, that aren't: A, actually some equally inaccurate version of Brooklyn accent; B, actually some sad imitation of a Kennedy accent (which is its own thing); or C, delivered by a Wahlberg or a Mattfleck. I know the industry gets plenty of accents wrong, but even the best actors get tripped up by the chaos that is the "Boston" accent. No one says "caw," Hollywood. It's cah, AWviously, and not AHviously, and definitely not BAH-stin (who started this ****??), and while we're on the subject, please go ahead and throw that 'R' back on the end of that word if the next word starts with a vowel, thanks.

So this year, in honor of the me who for so long pronounced "car keys" and "khakis" identically, I grabbed some Sam at the packie. Unfortunately, for all its attempts to come off as brighter, more refined, and more decent than it actually is, it still doesn't come close to being any of these things. And ya know what? I can relate. (Irrigahdliss, I still friggin' hate it).

Melissa Lemieux - PopCorners' Breaking Bad ad got me hungry for a unique-looking product

OK, I'll admit it — Watching Jesse Pinkman (Aaron Paul) and Walter White (Bryan Cranson) banter about cooking these suckers actually made me hungry. It wasn't just the quick-witted sense of humor PopCorners put on display here, or the completely accurate recapturing of what "Breaking Bad" looked and sounded like; it was that they made the chips they were selling look delicious.

I do enjoy snack chips in general, but I'd definitely never heard of PopCorners before seeing this commercial. They're PepsiCo's latest addition to the snack market, and they lean on the healthy side of the scale, being baked but never fried snacks. Crafted from corn, texturewise they lie somewhere between a pita chip and a rice cake, and flavorwise something like a Dorito or another corn-centric snack chip. What makes PopCorners special is that there's an airiness to them that makes them feel lighter on the tongue than most snacks. That makes them a vehicle for flavors both sweet (cinnamon sugar; kettle corn) and savory (spicy queso; sour cream and onion). And I can officially confirm thanks to this commercial that they are good vehicles for both the cheesiest and sweetest tastes.

Kieran Fisher - Steve Martin and Ben Stiller's Pepsi commercials could fool the best of us

There's a solid case to be made that Super Bowl commercials are the worst. After all, they're an excuse to charge billionaires ridiculous amounts of money to advertise goods that most people don't need. At the same time, they're a beloved American pastime and an effective strategy that sometimes pays off in a big way – especially when it convinces naysayers like me to purchase a fizzy drink with teeth-rotting capabilities.

Steve Martin and Ben Stiller's commercials for Pepsi Zero are masterclasses when it comes to creating intrigue and suspense. They allow both actors to showcase their talents and discuss their crafts, but the commercials truly succeed by not confirming if Pepsi Zero is good or bad. Both actors initially insinuate that they enjoy the drink before leaving us with a final tease: "Or was I just acting?" Consider my interest piqued.

Stiller and Martin spend the entire commercial telling us that acting is a façade and a lie. We know that they're playing games with us. We know that Pepsi greenlit their scripts. Still, the only way to discover if Pepsi Zero is actually good is to fall for their tricks and try the freakin' drink. I don't expect that my own taste buds align with those of Steve Martin and Ben Stiller across the board (Stiller did make "Zoolander 2," after all). However, their performances still duped me into buying Pepsi Zero and giving it a go. I then discovered that it just tastes like regular Pepsi, which is still better than Coke but nothing on Dr. Pepper. My life wasn't any better or worse afterward, but I don't regret it by any means.

Nick Staniforth, again - Hellmann's Pete Davidson ad has me buying all the condiments but mayonnaise

Ever wondered what a Dad joke would look like in commercial form? Well, here it is. Jon HAMM and BRIE Larson!? Genius, right? Well, yeah it's okay. But you know what's not okay? Mayonnaise. Come on now, who are we kidding anymore? Sorry, Hellmann's, but this topping was invented by the universe when a room needs to be cleared out or when someone needs to completely ruin a long drive or train journey, and not even Captain Marvel or the best Bruce Wayne we never had can prove otherwise.

If anything, this makes me want to buy any other topping BUT mayonnaise. Don Draper would be spinning in his office chair at this commercial that applies as much effort to mayo being a good idea as assuring us these two along with Pete Davidson were even in the same room. Yes, we know that's not a giant fridge, this isn't "The Exorcist." But seriously, go away and think about this, Hellmann's Marketing, while I bathe in ketchup and BBQ sauce. There's an ad.

Russell Murray, again - The Fast X trailer has awoken something in me

For the entirety of my life, I was told that the "Fast and Furious" movies were the dumbest of the dumb blockbusters — the sort of film where you can feel your brain leaking out of your ears while you watch them. Then... I saw the trailer for "Fast X."

I haven't seen a single "Fast and Furious" film, but boy, is that about to change. What's going on in the trailer? Impossible to say. I knew Jason Statham's Hobbs and/or Shaw became a good guy but wasn't John Cena a vengeful murderer in, like, the last film? Are there any enemies this team hasn't turned into family? Is the "Fast and Furious" universe a framework for rehabilitative justice? Wait, sorry; I felt something dripping from my ear for a second.

What was I thinking? Oh, right. Not only is "Fast X" clearly an unapologetic and bafflingly self-congratulatory celebration of two decades of brute force filmmaking, but it also uses the most metal genre trope ever — retconning your villain into a previous movie. Yeah, I know "Fast Five" is the safe one, but Google says Jason Momoa wasn't in that one, which means the "Fast X" team was like, "Hey, what if one of the nameless henchmen we mowed through with impunity just leveled the f*** up and became our most dangerous threat yet." And that, dear readers, is both fast AND furious.

This trailer made me want to tear the sleeves off my t-shirt, repair a 1970s muscle car, and then crash that car through an oiler tanker on my way to family dinner. I've never gotten punched in the face before, but god, this trailer made it look like a blast. I have no idea what I'm saying at this point, I can feel something sloshing around in my skull, vroom vroom, I like cars and explosions, Vin Diesel 2024. Time to purchase the entire catalog.