Campaign Review: Aussie adland reviews ads from Super Bowl LVI

In Campaign Review, Mumbrella invites the industry’s creatives and strategists to offer their views on recent ad campaigns. In a special Campaign Review, Mumbrella asks Clemenger BBDO's Leigh Arbon, Thinkerbell's Gerry Cyron and Bear Meets Eagle On Fire's Micah Walker to review the Super Bowl campaigns from Meta, Squarespace, Toyota and Uber Eats.

Brand: Meta

Campaign: ‘Old friends, new fun.’

Agency: In-house, produced with Anamoly LA

The verdict: Unconvincing argument for the Metaverse

Leigh Arbon, planning director at Clemenger BBDO, gives it a 6/10, saying:

Where this spot from Meta lands, “Old Friends. New Fun” is a fair proposition. It positions VR as a part of “real life”. Another place where we can connect with friends. This is something the average person can stomach.

The spot stumbles in how it gets there. We see a down and out teddy bear with his zest for life gone. A zest which only returns once he’s wearing a VR Headset.

The concept of being emotionally fulfilled through digital worlds and experiences is an idea we’re just not yet ready for. It’s the real challenge behind this brief. Meta want to convince us that the Metaverse is a place that’s healthy and fulfilling.

Most people will see this ad and take the contrary position that our time is best enjoyed in real life. This means in this moment this one is likely to do more for time outdoors than it will for Quest VR headset sales.

Gerry Cyron, executive head brand thinker at Thinkerbell, gives it a 5/10, saying:

The real life of a has-been stuffed toy is tough. I mean, we have all followed the trials of tribulations of Woody, Jessy and Lots-o’-Huggin’ Bear over four lengthy Toy Stories. So, we know. Which makes the 2-min Super Bowl narrative of Meta Quest 2 so familiar. Don’t get me wrong, I am a big fan of borrowing from – or being inspired by – popular culture but duplicating a narrative feels like a costly way to borrow interests, especially when the NBC is asking for US$6.5 million per 30-second commercial.

The narrative continues, and our stuffed toys’ real life – post band life – sux. Badly. Luckily our protagonists get their hands on the latest Meta gadget and reunite in the Metaverse. This is, of course, a great message to all the other stuffed humans out there: If your real life sucks badly, try Meta Quest 2.

BTW this is a continuum of Meta’s poor messaging. Their first campaign was about strange neighbours hating each other IRL but becoming besties in the Metaverse. Strategically, maybe the Metaverse should stop dissing real life and try to add something special to the virtual table.

Micah Walker, founder and chief creative officer at Bear Meets Eagle On Fire, gives it a 3/10, saying:

Tough brief, this one.

Help us communicate the benefit of a parallel existence where you can connect with old friends. Inside a simulated world. It’s kind of self-important and silly at the same time.

As for the ad itself, I’m not sure the back story of being loved and then discarded ultimately makes the contrived conclusion worth it. Kind of leaves me feeling the same way about the ‘Metaverse’ as I did before I saw it – which is puzzled as to why we need an alternate reality to feel connected to people.

Points for not just going the celebrity route and some nice production, but overall, I’m just not convinced this one sticks.

Brand: Squarespace

Campaign: ‘Sally’s Seashells’

Agency: In-house

The verdict: Some enjoy the celebrity cameos, others find it overdone

Arbon gives it a 7/10, saying:

Squarespace grows by inspiring and encouraging entrepreneurship.

I find their ads usually create a feeling that I need to be starting something new with a website being the key ingredient for my success. This spot is no different.

Through a fictional seashell business run by Zendaya we see a case study for small business. New customers, new products and even a path to celebrity. Everything a small business owner could hope for with Squarespace telling us that all that was needed was a website.

This is an ad made to help us dream.

It’s good – but, what caught my attention was Andre 3000’s narration and ability to tackle tongue twisters. It’s a little bit of magic that quietly steals the show.

Cyron gives it a 5/10, saying:

Sally’s Seashells narrative uses infinitely more ‘S’s than you can possible find in Square Space, the sponsor of said squib. Probably, a branding play to make sure the hard-earned media dollars are paying off. And I am sure it will, but popular culture can be unkind to marketers. Whilst the main protagonist in the ad, Zendaya Coleman, was an actress in the latest Spiderman movie, she is mostly known for her character Rue Bennett in Euphoria, which is currently in market (and in culture) on a weekly basis. It’s awesome. Go watch it. Rue is an awkward teenager who is struggling with life, love and a massive drug addiction. Quite the opposite of Sally Seashells. Unless Sally’s Seashells sells smack. I am sure I am overthinking this, but Zendaya would not have been my preferred brand ambassador. Nothing to borrow from or to amplify to extend my brand meaning.

Walker gives it a 4/10, saying:

SquareSpace has done some surprising and solid creative off this platform before, so the structure’s established for some fun work. But I just find this one a bit paint by numbers more than anything else.

The ‘Life Aquatic’ art directional approach and characters don’t really feel like anything more than decoration here. And Zendaya, playing out another character’s story, just seems a bit forced.

It all feels a bit more self-conscious than imaginative to me.

I’m sure they’ll get hits for using Zendaya, but overall, just too much borrowed interest for me.

Brand: Toyota USA

Campaign: ‘Brothers’

Agency: Saatchi & Saatchi, Dentsu

The verdict: Well-shot but unrelated to Toyota

Arbon gives it a 7/10, saying:

The McKeever brothers is an inspirational story.

Brothers who partnered to win ten Paralympic medals after one brother lost his eyesight due to a degenerative disease. It’s one of many emotional stories of determination Toyota tells under its global Start Your Impossible platform.

It’s all excellent storytelling.

My only issue is where are the cars and what’s Toyota’s role?

I spotted a 70s Celica covered under a pile of snow. A 90s looking pickup hiding in an alleyway. Toyota’s only role is bringing us the story. This works within an Olympics broadcast with a high rotation which is likely to be what it was created for with Winter Olympics now on and Paralympics around the corner. As for a one off within the Super Bowl I think it’s just a story well told.

No need to worry though as another Toyota spot ran during the game. The Joneses, a celebrity filled race which had Toyotas rallying across a traditional American landscape. Plenty of car to enjoy there.

Cyron gives it a 5/10, saying:

Wait. This is a Paralympian narrative that is aired during Super Bowl LVI, brought to you by a car manufacturer who is inviting you – the viewer with chicken wings and beer in hand – to start the impossible. Righto.

Let me sidestep for a second. I love Adidas ’Impossible is Nothing’, a sports brand who is inviting other (everyday) athletes to push their personal boundaries. I also love Channel 4’s ‘Meet the Superhumans’. A campaign that was meant to drive eyeballs to their Paralympics coverage by repositioning what a Paralympian is made off. Both brand expressions are firmly connected to the brand, even the category.

Let’s get back to cars. The ‘Power of Dreams’ by Honda inspired the audience to think big, to dream the impossible dream. But their narrative was firmly anchored in their inventions and progress over time. It also found a tone that wasn’t chest-beating or put the onus on punters. Whilst Toyota’s tale about two brothers is inspiring and beautifully shot, it should have hit the brand breaks earlier, in my humble opinion.

Walker gives it a 5/10, saying:

I feel like this kind of shared philosophy story runs pretty hit and miss for brands. But there’s loads of them made each year, regardless.

Do we believe that the unlikely, heroically human story shared here has anything to do with Toyota?

I’m not convinced.

Not only is the shape of the story familiar, but the idea of ‘Start your Impossible’ just feels like a repackaging of better campaigns like “Impossible is nothing” which carried more meaning.

No one gets in trouble for making work like this, and there are some lovely shots in the edit, but it’s just less impactful when it feels like we’ve seen this so many times.

Brand: Uber Eats

Campaign: ‘Uber Don’t Eats’

Agency: Special US and Special Australia

The verdict: The clear standout

Arbon gives it a 9/10, saying:

Expanding the services offered by a brand with a very specific name is a steep challenge.

That’s not to mention that Uber Eats also has some well understood elements within its storytelling. Celebrity, home settings and discussion around what’s been ordered.

The work here navigates a tight and challenging brief and delivers something that’s top notch. It may have even saved Uber creating a sub-brand.

By zeroing in on the strictest interpretation of what “Uber Eats” means and by creating the concept of “Don’t Eats” Uber have opened the door to a creative space that should serve their grocery delivery business well for many years to come.

The copywriting and casting for this spot also has everything you could want from a big game commercial. You don’t need to hear from anyone on this one. Just sit back and enjoy. Even the disclaimers are great.

Cyron gives it a 10/10, saying:

Love it so much. I wanna Eats it. Strategically, they have overcome their biggest barrier to grow the business and the brand: being pigeonholed/formerly known as food delivery vs. grocery delivery service. Creatively, they have done so by putting together a brilliant cast of celebrities consisting of anti-heroes and slightly flawed, slightly dumb characters we all know and love who are eating the inedible. The tone is brilliant and so entertaining. Gwyneth eating her own vagina-scented candle must be the highlight of the agency’s reel for years to come.

Also amusing is the fine print. Those who have driven in the US of A before know that ‘objects in mirror are closer than they appear’. So, in the land of lawsuits, it seems only fitting that disclaimers are used throughout the ad. ‘Prop food. Do not eat Diapers.’ The ad keeps on giving. Thank you. Oh, and how good is the line: Now delivering eats and no eats.

I’ll Eats my hat if this won’t get shared and talked about at analogue and digital watercooler conversations, which would make this hefty investment pay off on a global scale. Looking forward to the Effies.

Walker gives it a 9/10, saying:

I’m selfishly relieved this is part of the mix, so I don’t just come off as some Super Bowl curmudgeon.

There’s a lot to like in this and it’s one of the overall winners from the Super Bowl for me. First, the simple, funny and completely reasonable expectation that things that arrive from Uber Eats are things you ‘eat’ is hilarious. A perfect way to announce you’re now delivering other stuff.

It’s equal parts dumb and to the point.

Now add the choices and performances of Jennifer Coolidge, Cousin Greg (as he’ll forever be known) and of course Gwenyth and her candle, and you’ve got some well considered comedy that doesn’t just feel straight down the barrel.

I could live without the Trevor Noah bit, but that’s nitpicking, and this is the best of this bunch by far.

“That bag’s a liar!” Ha.

As told to Anna Macdonald. If you’re a senior creative or strategist who would like to take part in a future Campaign Review, please email


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