DDB Chicago’s Tom Syoen Shares His Super Bowl Faves and Flops

In the advertising world, Super Bowl Sunday is about anything but football. Or even Taylor Swift or Usher. It’s about the commercials! We were honored to have DDB Chicago Studio Executive Producer Tom Syoen stop by Screen to share his picks…

SCREEN: What was your favorite spot of the night?

TOM: Doritos can always be counted on for memorable Super Bowl spots and this year’s Dinamita (featuring Jenna Ortega) continues the tradition. Very fun, high-energy, well shot and edited, and visually interesting overall. I’m also a sucker for car chase sequences featuring abuelas on souped-up rascal scooters.

Runner Up is Pluto TV – Couch Potato Farms: One of the few comedic spots of the night that didn’t derive its humor from self-aware aging celebrities winking at the camera. Loved the absurd imagery paired with the folksy, straightforward delivery from the couch potato farmers and their harvest. Just an honest, home-grown, down-to-earth ad without any phony baloney celebrity endorsement.

(Caveat – this take also might just be the contrarian in me reacting to the popularity of the celebrity-heavy spots I’m bashing, since everyone I watched the game with seems to disagree with me, haha.)

SCREEN: What was your least favorite spot of the night or a spot you felt could have been more successful?

TOM: RFK Jr’s “Kennedy” campaign ad: I couldn’t tell if this was a serious ad at first. When I realized it was I was left with “the ick” as the kids say.

Besides being in poor taste the GFX were poorly done overall as well. Just WTF all around.

Take a look at the campaign ad here.

SCREEN: What would you like to see more or less of in terms of advertising in next year’s Super Bowl?

TOM: I’d like to see less foot washing in the name of Jesus. Maybe Jesus “gets us” but whoever produced that spot doesn’t get a pass from me. Double “ick”.

Personally I’d like to see a return to storytelling and as well as more cinematic pieces. Seems like advertisers are still playing it safe and keeping things light and comedic following the “trying times” of Covid (which I normally prefer over sappy or emotionally manipulative spots) but it feels like overly relying on celebrity casting and self-referential humor results in advertising that’s largely forgettable.

SCREEN: Any final words here, Tom?

TOM: One other spot that caught my attention was Poppi’s “The Future of Soda is Now”. I thought it was interesting in that its overall art direction and pacing is not normally seen in mainstream advertising and is instead reminiscent of the types of sizzle or case study videos produced internally at agencies. It’ll be interesting to see if these types of spots resonate more with younger demographics who might be more hip to digesting content in this format, and become more common in general…

Thanks so much for chiming in, Tom! Check back here at SCREEN for more insight and interviews from advertising creatives across the country. You can also click right here to subscribe to our weekly email newsletter.

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