News & Politics

Best Ad of the Super Bowl? Michael & Son Explains Its Hilarious Balloon Ad.

The final cut of the five-second spot was submitted in the nick of time.

Jim Folliard of ESB Advertising pops the white balloon. Photo courtesy of ESB Advertising and Michael & Son.

If you watched Super Bowl LVII in the Washington, DC area, you may have caught the Michael & Son ad that took a comical twist on the Chinese spy balloon that has been in the news

The local home-service company’s five-second spot depicted a white balloon with a “satellite” hanging from it, being popped by a pair of pliers, while their well-known jingle, “If you can’t, we can” plays in the background. 

The advertisement, which aired in the DC metro area, the Carolinas, and Richmond, was submitted to the station just two days before the deadline of February 9, according to Christopher Thompson, director of communications at Michael & Son.

Thompson says they had been kicking around ideas, but hadn’t hit on anything memorable until the Chinese balloon, well, popped up. “We were kind of just thinking on our feet and coming up with something really quick, which is kind of the fun of it as well,” Thompson says. Eventually, they decided on the balloon because Thompson knew it would get people talking, and hopefully laughing. To shoot the commercial, they used a real balloon but the “satellite” is a stock image laid over the green screen.

The DC market didn’t disappoint in its reaction. Thompson says the feedback they’ve gotten has been great—although a few critics questioned making an ad that they saw as political. Thompson has been happy to see so many people engaging with a local business online. (It was probably also a nice to see one Twitter user call it the “best commercial so far.”)

This isn’t the first time Michael & Son has riffed off of popular discourse in their Super Bowl ads. In 2021, their five-second spot congratulated Tom Brady, often referred to as the “GOAT” (greatest of all time), with a video of a real goat. In 2016, they had a cheerful Mike Tyson sing the jingle. We can only imagine what 2024’s will be. 


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Keely recently graduated with her master’s in journalism from American University and has reported on local DC, national politics, and business. She has previously written for The Capitol Forum.