Viewpoints: Super Bowl advertising trends and how nostalgia shaped the future

The best and worst of the 2021 Super Bowl ads

Jon Laughlin

Last updated on March 19th, 2022 at 08:22 am

In 1995, I was a senior in high school. My Dr. Dre “The Chronic” CD was scratched, and electricity was used to power household appliances and the family tube TV.

In 2022, I have the entire Dr. Dre catalogue a thumb swipe away, cars are plugged into the wall and the Super Bowl (with Dr. Dre featured in the halftime show) 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, at home medical tests that give you real time results and Dr. Evil (maybe 1995 and 2022 aren’t too far off) were all featured during the Big Game. Here’s what I thought worked and didn’t work with a future-focus series of Super Bowl ads.

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 lineup. “You have to save the Earth before you take it over.” Great line, and it clearly established GM’s goal in making e-vehicles. I also loved this award-winning commercial from mike morse.

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’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 with which the audience can connect.

Jon Laughlin is chief creative officer of Laughlin Constable.

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