Ah, the Super Bowl – a time when the world of sports collides headfirst with the galaxy of advertising, creating a supernova of entertainment, excitement, and, let’s face it, a few cringe-worthy moments. As a media buying agency, our take on the game might be a bit different than your average viewer. Beyond creative, knowing your audience is key to a hit or a miss when it comes to spending the big bucks on the big game. This year’s ad lineup was a rollercoaster of pop culture throwbacks, sports legends, and a few questionable choices that had us raising our eyebrows. So, grab your popcorn (or donuts, if you’re feeling inspired) and let’s dive into the best and worst commercial placements of this year’s Super Bowl extravaganza.
Pop Culture and Sports Nostalgia Take the Lead
It seems like the ad wizards behind this year’s Super Bowl commercials took a page out of the millennial playbook, with pop culture and sports nostalgia ruling the day. From the iconic ensembles of “Suits,” “Friends,” “Parks and Rec,” “Scrubs,” to the Boston-accented banter of “Good Will Hunting” and the harmonies of Boy Bands – it was a veritable feast for the senses. Not to mention, the dynamic duo of Brady and Gretzky teaming up with Vince Vaughn in a Vegas escapade reminiscent of “Swingers.” And let’s not forget Usher, who seemed to be everywhere, serenading us through the commercial breaks. This clever pairing of creative and media placement perfectly captured the hearts of the millennial audience, proving that nostalgia is a powerful tool in the ad game.
The Best of the Bunch
Pluto TV’s Couch Potato Genius
First up, let’s talk about Pluto TV’s stroke of genius. Timing their ad right after halftime was a masterstroke, catching viewers exactly when they’re feeling their most couch potato-y. Offering a free alternative to CBS/Paramount+ was a savvy move, especially considering the backlash from Peacock’s coverage of the Chiefs/Dolphins Wildcard game. Pluto TV understood the assignment and executed it flawlessly.
Dunkin’ Does It Again
Dunkin’ hit it out of the park, continuing their streak of resonating with those ever-elusive millennials. By expanding on the success of last year’s ad with an even bigger cast and a funnier plot, Dunkin’ proved they’re not just about donuts. They tapped into a multi-generational love for coffee, bagels, and breakfast sandwiches, all while paying homage to pop culture moments spanning the last three decades. Simply put, Dunkin’ knows its audience and knows them well.
Honorable Mention: Empowering Messages from Dove
A special shoutout goes to Dove for their powerful messages encouraging girls and young women to stay in sports. Their timing was impeccable, aligning with a surge of younger female viewers tuning in to support the Chiefs (and, let’s be real, Taylor Swift). This strategic partnership showcased a deep understanding of their audience and earned them well-deserved accolades.
And Then There Were the Misses…
The Temu Letdown
Temu, oh, Temu. Where do we begin? With three opportunities to dazzle us, they instead chose to run the same ad thrice, missing the mark on creativity and targeting. In the wake of privacy concerns, their insistence on a download-without-incentive approach felt out of touch and ultimately landed them at the bottom of the pile.
CBS/Paramount+’s Self-Promotion Snafu
CBS/Paramount+ found themselves in hot water, not just for what felt like a desperate self-promotion due to unsold spots, but also for technical difficulties that marred their app’s performance during the game. It was a double whammy that left viewers less than impressed.
Dishonorable Mention: State Farm’s Tone-Deaf Humor
Finally, a word on State Farm’s Arnold ad. While initially amusing, it quickly soured, especially in light of the very real issues of harassment and diminished self-worth linked to speech disorders. What was intended as humor came off as tone-deaf, reminding us that comedy in advertising is a delicate balance.
Wrapping It Up
This year’s Super Bowl commercials were a mixed bag, with some advertisers scoring touchdowns while others fumbled. The successful ones understood their audience, leveraging nostalgia and cultural moments to create memorable, engaging ads. The less successful ones, however, remind us that in the high-stakes game of Super Bowl advertising, understanding the room is key. Here’s to hoping next year’s lineup learns from the best (and worst) of this year’s efforts. Until then, let’s keep the conversation going – and maybe grab a donut or two.