So, What Did We All Think of the Made-by-Portlanders Super Bowl Ads?

Let's discuss! Local agency Wieden+Kennedy had more ads running than any other agencies, but not necessarily the buzziest spots of the night.

By Julia Silverman February 14, 2022

Image: Courtesy YouTube/TurboTax

No other event in American life commands collective eyeballs like the Super Bowl—why else does it cost a cool $6.5 million for just 30 second of commercial time during the biggest of the Big Games? 

This year, Portland-based ad agency Wieden+ Kennedy was responsible for more minutes on screen than any other agency, anywhere, as first noted in industry publication Ad Week. 

The agency, which has offices in world capitals including New York, Tokyo, and London, was responsible for six spots during the game that aired coast-to-coast, along with four ads that premiered pre-game and a regional ad. 

Two of those in-game ads were made by the Portland crew. So, now that that the game is over, what’s the verdict? (And we don’t mean the score on the field, which we *think* the team in purple won, which seemed very sad for the team in orange and black.)

First, let’s review their entries.

Start with this shape-shifter number for TurboTax, which cheerfully reminded us all that tax season is around the corner—buzzkill, but okay—and then implied via some slightly creepy shape-shifting technology that the online accounting company can match you with a tax expert who will fix you right up, whether you are a freelancer who nevertheless managed to buy your first home (not in Portland, we’re guessing, given our overheated market), a crypto investor or, in a shout-out to the legions of Ted Lasso fans, Jason Sudeikis.  

Next up, a heart-tugger for sportsball types on behalf of Amazon Prime, which begins by noting that post Super Bowl, NFL fans are out of luck for the next seven months, until the season starts anew (again, buzzkill.) The camera pans across fans and teams from around the country, a rousing reminder that no matter what divides us in a polarized nation, football is a powerful equalizer. But wait, all is not lost! When football does return, you can watch it live on Thursday nights of all things—and guess where? Three cheers if you picked Amazon Prime. 

Judging by the national reviews, it’s a mixed bag. The W+K ads aren’t quite the ones that are still getting buzz 24 hours later. That conversation is more focused on the next generation of Chevy hybrid/electric trucks as driven through New Jersey by one Meadow Soprano (A sequel starring Meadow and AJ? Bada-bing, Bada-BOOM. Greenlight that sucker, someone) and famed skeptic Larry David pooh-poohing history’s life-changing inventions, including the wheel, the fork, the toilet, and, naturally, an app designed to get you into the cryptocurrency market. (David: “Ehhhhh. I don’t think so. And I’m never wrong about this stuff. Never.")  

The locally produced entries didn’t make NPR’s list of the worthiest ads of the night, which is a not great sign, nor did they show up in USA Today’s AdMeter, where the top spot went to an Anna Kendrick-helmed ad for Rocket Mortgage that included a clever play on Barbie bidding on her dream house in a cuthroat market. 

The Turbo-Tax ad wins points for its Sudeikis cameo, with Yahoo Sports calling it “clever, funny and comforting,” while also heaping some praise on the Amazon Prime entry, saying it represents “light at the end of that dark February through September tunnel.” AdAge was less enamored, writing that “the storyboard for this commercial must look like someone mixed coleslaw with confetti and then spilled glitter and sawdust on it.” 

The Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University was also fairly meh on the Amazon Prime/NFL on Thursdays entry, grading it a “C” on its rundown of all 56 aired commercials. (The TurboTax spot got a B from the NU panel, though.) 

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