Spreading Cheer, One Super Bowl Ad at a Time

3 min read

Screenshot of Salesforce 2022 Super Bowl ad

If the advertising we’re seeing during the Winter Olympics and Super Bowl this year is any indication of America’s collective psyche, there’s good news: We’re not as depressed as we were in 2021.

Gone are pandemic-influenced uber dark themes. Instead, the big money ads are trending toward more hopeful and inspiring messages. Especially when you consider that companies are shelling out $6.5 million or more for a 30-second Super Bowl spot, it’s evidence we’ve cheered up. With that kind of spending on the line, advertisers have to tap into the zeitgeist—or stand to lose their return on investment.

But are they right? Will this happier vibe hit the mark with would-be customers? The answer is we don’t know and the Super Bowl and Olympics ad-makers really don’t either. They’ll find out sometime in the future when they study the effectiveness of these spots. We’re not sure America is really that much happier than it was last year, but we do think America wants to be happier. There’s a lot to be said for aspiration in the advertising business.

Consider Salesforce, which is airing the same commercial during the Super Bowl that it debuted during the Olympics’ opening ceremonies. It stars Matthew McConaughey as an astronaut who goes to space only to do an about-face and return to earth. Then he floats around in a hot air balloon, orating an inspirational poem.

“So while the others look to the metaverse and Mars, let’s stay here and restore ours,” McConaughey says in his iconic Southern drawl. “It’s time to blaze a new trail. ‘Cause the frontier, it ain’t rocket science. It’s right here!”

Salesforce isn’t alone in pushing positivity. Here are the five optimistic themes coming our way this month via two of the world’s biggest sporting events.

1. Adventure and Growth

We’ve been home for almost two years, so corporations are trying to tap into our boredom and desire for adventure. The travel site Booking.com invested in a Super Bowl ad this year, likely betting on this very thing.

2. Social Responsibility and Equality 

Like Salesforce, companies want us to know they’re getting the message about taking more responsibility for the world they do business in. Another example is the Google Pixel 6 “Seen on Pixel” spot, which touts its new Real Tone camera technology—a culmination of a years-long effort to accurately represent all skin tones in images.

3. Fun

Companies are giving themselves permission to have fun with their Super Bowl commercials again. Advertisers are betting we’re ready for a laugh at the expense of our favorite celebrities. Pro tip: Schitt’s Creek fans will want to tune in to the Super Bowl this year because Eugene Levy and Catherine O’Hara are hilariously selling Nissan.

4. Health and Wellness 

Advertisers are banking on our renewed desire to stay healthy. Given the amount of sickness we’ve endured over the last couple of years, that’s not a bad idea. In one ad, Lindsay Lohan makes a few self-deprecating remarks about her previous less-than-healthy lifestyle choices while promoting Planet Fitness. In another, the women’s health brand Hologic reminds women to get their annual screenings.

 5. Hope for America’s Future 

Brands are trying to appeal to our sense of patriotism, which is easy to do as Americans root on their favorite NFL team or athlete competing in the winter Olympics. It’s no surprise that Budweiser is bringing out its Clydesdale horses for this purpose, but this time they’ve brought back an adorable and empathetic dog into the emotional mix.

So if you need a healthy dose of positivity, you might want to check out what’s happening this year during the commercial breaks from the Super Bowl and the Olympics. Even if you aren’t a sports fan, someone somewhere has paid millions to make you smile.