How brands used nostalgia to shape the future in Super Bowl LVI

Super Bowl
Jon Laughlin, Chief Creative Officer, Laughlin Constable

In 1995, Dr. Dre’s “The Chronic” was only available via a scratched CD and electricity was used to power household appliances including the family tube TV. In 2022, the entire Dr. Dre catalogue is a thumb swipe away, cars are plugged into the wall and the Super Bowl played out on a flat TV mounted to the wall.

I couldn’t have imagined this future, and if watching the ads last night were any indicator, 1995 seems like a very, very long time ago.

Digital currency, electric cars, devices that predict your habits, and at home medical tests that give you real time results were all featured during the Big Game, but spots that also featured nostalgic characters and brands like Dr. Evil and Barbie showed that maybe 1995 and 2022 aren’t too far off after all.

With a series of Super Bowl ads focused on the future, here’s what I thought worked, and didn’t.

General Motors used the past to define its future. When I first heard the opening to “The Sopranos,” I was half expecting to see a CGI Tony Soprano driving to his New Jersey home. Instead, it was AJ and Meadow (they made it out of Holsten’s!) showing us what the future of Chevy trucks looks like. Another win was the Mike Myers spot that featured the entire GM electric vehicle line up. “You have to save the Earth before you take it over.” Great line, and it clearly established GM’s goal in making e-vehicles.

Everyone wants in on Bitcoin— even the Super Bowl. Coinbase brought a screeching halt to the proceedings with a moving QR code. It was like running a trick play after breaking the huddle for the first time. Was it funny? No. Was it creative? Not really. Was it a success? Yes. Today everyone is talking about Coinbase and that’s the point. Another highlight in this space was from FTX. Everyone knows Larry David. No one wants to be Larry David. A hilarious way to get around the biggest hurdle of buying Bitcoin — I don’t get it. It’s not for me.

What didn’t work? For me, it’s using celebrity just to use celebrity. Matthew McConaughey was talking in circles and never landed for Salesforce. Idris Elba was making fun of Booking.com’s name, but if the joke isn’t funny, is it worth it? There’s nothing wrong with investing in celebrity but make it something the audience can connect with.

The Super Bowl is obviously a celebration of football, but it is also advertising’s biggest day of the year. For me, the trend was the future. We saw what brands think the future looks like. Did they get it right? Tune in next year.


We want to thank Jon Laughlin, Chief Creative Officer, Laughlin Constable for sharing his opinions with Reel Chicago.


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