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The Sounds of the Big Game

the big game 2023

Did you watch the 2023 Big Game? It certainly was a classic, hard-fought contest, with a memorable halftime performance by Rihanna – featuring hundreds of dancers in what looked like hazmat suits! But last Sunday was the Big Game of commercials as well, with the FOX network taking in almost $600 million in revenue. And that doesn’t account for the tens of millions of dollars advertisers spent preparing those commercials. Those spots looked terrific, but how did they sound? At Stephen Arnold Music, music and sound is what we do. Naturally, our ears perked up at the best examples of audio we heard during the breaks in the big game. So here are our picks for the three best sounding commercials of the 2023 Big Game.

Disney – Special Look

Disney has been known for decades for their cutting-edge animation, superior storytelling and compelling music. To tie these historic and artistic elements together in one commercial is a heavy lift. But Disney pulled it off with a memorable musical soundtrack, artfully pulling together soundbites, sound effects, stunning visuals and fond memories. And it’s perfectly crowned with their signature, seven-note sonic brand, recalling the lyric: “when you wish upon a star…” As always, Disney succeeds in bringing out the kid in all of us.

Google – Fixed on Pixel

Contrast is what fuels creative expression. Good vs. evil, hard vs. soft, Mantovani vs. Missy Elliot? That’s exactly what Google did as they juxtaposed Mantovani’s “Unchained Melody” with Missy Elliot’s “We Run This.” Throw in some great natural sound, compelling stop/starts and a harmonica(?) to bring things into focus. Amy Shumer brings the comic relief and helps bring the soundtrack to life. Google really put the power in people’s hands with this attention-grabbing effort.

Universal – Fast X Trailer

It’s hard to bet against the big, action film trailers when it comes to sound design. And Universal brings the big guns to this action franchise favorite. Impossibly fast cars, explosions, crashes, mind-boggling sound design and a suspense-drenched music track drive high drama for their latest release. Try watching this without the sound, and you’ll see how the sonic experience dominates the emotional response to the visuals.

Honorable Mention

Tubi – Interface Interruption

At :15 seconds, they didn’t produce the longest commercial. They didn’t spend the most money. They didn’t have any big stars. But they brought the most viewers out of their seats, wondering: “Who sat on the remote?”


I think you’ll agree that audio, often overlooked, packs a compelling emotional punch to emotionally engage the audience. Great advertisers understand this, and bring their ”A” game to the audio element of commercial production. We pay so much more conscious attention to the great pictures – photography, animation, special effects, etc., but it’s the carefully crafted soundtracks in commercials and movies that unconsciously arouse our emotions. And you don’t have to wait for the next Big Game for great sonic experiences – just listen to the wonderful audio that surrounds you each and every day – in music, films, commercials – and nature!

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