The Big Winner of 2023’s Big Game Ads

February 16, 2023


Written By: Hannah Luera, Senior Account Manager


Ah, the Big Game – the one televised program of the year where consumers set aside their disdain for advertisements. It’s every marketer’s dream!

Although there were a few major themes at play in this year’s commercials – including brands featuring popular musical artists and sharing ad space – one motif was undeniable: nostalgia, which is one of the most powerful tools in storytelling.

With the current political and social climate so powerfully divisive, it’s no wonder many brands stuck to reminiscing on the past. But by playing it safe and leaning so heavily on nostalgic themes, many criticized that the ads lacked creativity and originality.

Whether or not you enjoyed these sentimental moments during 2023’s Big Game, here are the ads that grabbed – and kept – our attention.

Disney Looks Back on 100 Years
From A Christmas Carol to Zootopia, it seems everyone has at least one Disney movie that brings back blissful childhood memories. Disney capitalized on this shared experience in their commercial, showcasing the stories they have been telling from generation to generation in their 90-second spot. We enjoyed the walk down memory lane (while pretending to forget how Bambi ended).

Tell Me More: T-Mobile Grease Throwback
You either love musicals or you despise them – there’s no in between. Regardless of your stance, nobody can deny the chemistry between John Travolta and the former Scrubs co-stars as they belted out their take on “Summer Nights” during T-Mobile’s 60-second ad. It may have been a little cheesy, but their rhyming abilities and 5G-focused lyrics were certainly impressive. Informative AND feel-good – what more could you want from an ad?

Michelob Ultra’s Nod to Caddyshack – Part 1 & Part 2
Playing off the cult classic Caddyshack, Michelob and Netflix partnered up to get viewers hyped for their new docuseries, Full Swing. This two-part ad featured a plethora of celebrity-athletes and paired nostalgia with exclusivity: Fans found out they could watch the entire first episode of Full Swing before it officially premiered by scanning the QR code on Michelob Ultra cans.

Honorable Mention – Tubi’s Disruptive Ad
Tubi didn’t rely on nostalgia to get their message across. Instead, they were creative and disruptive – and, in the process, probably caused more than a few moments of panic as viewers scrambled to find their remotes. Whether you were left delighted or annoyed, Tubi generated a LOT of online buzz. Jokes, memes and GIFs abounded as soon as the commercial aired.

Bottom line: From the good to the bad – and the just plain weird (yes, we’re looking at you, M&Ms) – this year’s Big Game commercials may have been lackluster, but at least they made us feel warm & fuzzy. And who couldn’t use more of that right now?