This year, the creative team here at BG had the privilege of creating a Super Bowl spot for our client Inspira Health. While it was a regional buy, in many ways it didn’t feel like one, as we worked hard to ensure that the spot would be just as memorable and impactful as any of the national ads that aired that day.

Lucky for us, New Jersey-based Inspira Health was clear on the message they wanted to deliver during the game: when it comes to the latest healthcare technology and innovation, it’s essentially right in your own backyard. It was a very focused and simple strategy, and we were able to bring it to life via a 30-second spot that cleverly illustrates the accessibility of its cutting-edge care.

While I of course watched the game this year to see our spot live, I also wanted to check out what other advertisers had up their sleeves. As someone who’s been in the advertising industry for quite some time, I actually try to watch the Super Bowl as a “regular person,” if you will, and not as a creative director. It’s interesting to try and put that hat on, because you find that you react to things in a very sort of natural way.

Below I’ve chosen some of my favorite ads from the game, as well as my thoughts on what worked well this year and what didn’t.

Hyundai – The Elevator

This year, I found that the use of celebrities felt very gratuitous. You see celebrities every year, and they of course create talk and buzz, but this year they mostly fell flat. When a brand chooses to use a particular celebrity, it’s important that there’s a real connection there – it’s not enough to just choose someone because they’re funny or “of the moment.”

That being said, I thought Jason Bateman was very well cast in Hyundai’s spot. He seems to have the right personality to deliver the idea they were going for, which essentially compared buying cars to other terrible things in life, like vegan dinner parties and root canals. It was a simple, humorous idea that made sense to me, and I thought Bateman executed it well.

NFL – The 100-Year Game

I loved the NFL “100 Years” spot. I’m a football fan, and there were a lot of surprises to it, which I thought was fun. The way the action played out felt very natural and real, not overly choreographed. Not only did it feature tons of football legends, but it also was the kind of spot that you had to stay with – around every cut and corner, you got a little reward if you stuck with it. That really resonated for me.

Nostalgia played a big role this year, as we saw Stella Artois bring back two iconic characters – Carrie Bradshaw and The Dude – and watched them switch over to beer from their usual drink of choice. I think that’s why the NFL spot worked too, as it was a lighthearted approach that featured football greats from years past.

Walmart – Famous Cars

Walmart first aired its game day spot during the Golden Globes earlier this year, but it was still one of my favorite ads of the night. To me, what worked is that the cars – which are some of the most iconic vehicles in movies and cartoons – weren’t just for show, but tied into the larger point that Walmart was trying to make: that “no matter what you drive,” you can use the retailer’s grocery pickup service for free. The lyrics of Gary Numan’s “Cars” that played in the background only served to reinforce that point. All in all, Walmart’s spot clearly and cleverly made the connection between the brand and what it’s trying to sell.