Lessons Learned from Super Bowl LVIII

The Most Watched Broadcast in History

With Super Bowl LVIII breaking records as the most-watched program in US history, drawing an average of 123.7 million viewers, it’s evident that this event holds a unique position in American culture. As one of the few events that Americans across all demographics experience, the big game presents an unparalleled opportunity for companies to reach a vast and diverse audience. While the Super Bowl is known for having the best commercials of the year, the increasing popularity of the event has led many companies to play it safe. However, each commercial was ranked by a USA Today poll that received tens of thousands of responses, and a few ads rose to the top as being truly stand out, while others were designed to be among the worst of the evening.

We analyzed the highest and lowest rated commercials of the event, and have several key insights to share.

Evaluating the Ads: The Best and the Worst

Top Picks:

  1. “Like a Good Neighbaaa,” State Farm
  2. “The DunKings,” Dunkin’
  3. “Perfect 10 | The Kia EV9,” Kia

Each of the highest-ranking commercials had the confidence to put their brands second. The State Farm commercial wasn’t selling you on any insurance plan or new deal, it was entirely about Arnold and his accent. Similarly, “The DunKings” was about Ben Affleck auditioning for Jennifer Lopez’s music video, and Kia’s told the story of a young ice-skater.

The two highest-ranked commercials also masterfully utilized celebrity endorsements to engage viewers. By integrating humor and leveraging the public personas of figures like Arnold Schwarzenegger and Ben Affleck, these ads left a lasting impression. Notably, the Kia ad stood out by delivering a heartfelt narrative that resonated with audiences, demonstrating the effectiveness of emotional storytelling. Notably, other commercials that pulled on the audience’s heartstrings, such as the NFL “Born to Play” ad and Google’s “Javier in Frame” spot were all in the top 20% highest-rated commercials.

Bottom Picks:

  1. “American Values,” Robert F. Kennedy Jr. Campaign
  2. “Less Social Media. More Snapchat,” Snapchat
  3. “Make Your Moves Count,” TurboTax

In contrast, the lowest-ranked commercials faltered in several areas. Lack of recognizable celebrity presence, overly strong calls to action, and a focus on the product rather than storytelling contributed to their lackluster performance. Additionally, some ads, like Snapchat’s, missed the mark by adopting a negative tone and failing to authentically connect with their target audience.

Key Takeaways for Marketers

Subtlety Sells: Viewers prefer ads that treat brands as accessories rather than focal points. By integrating brands organically into compelling narratives, advertisers can capture attention without coming across as overly promotional.

Authenticity Matters: Authenticity remains key in delivering branded messages. By staying true to their brand identities (and the celebrities endorsing them), advertisers can establish genuine connections with consumers.

The Power of Storytelling: Successful commercials tell stories that resonate with audiences on a personal level. By prioritizing storytelling over product promotion, brands can create memorable experiences that leave a lasting impact.

Integrated Marketing Triumphs

The real winners of the evening, by our estimation, were the celebrities who successfully executed integrated marketing campaigns. The most high-profile and successful of these came from Beyonce, who not only slayed in the hilarious commercial for Verizon Wireless but also cheekily directed fans to her website with the line “Drop the new music.” And sure enough, she had released a new single that same day which quickly amassed over 4.5 million views. Jennifer Lopez employed a similar tactic. In the Dunkin’ commercial, she was seen working on a new album – an album that was released just five days after the Super Bowl. These artists were able to capitalize on their features in high-profile commercials to draw attention to their own products. They were, essentially, paid to advertise themselves, and that sounds like a winning situation to me.