COHN AI: Best of the Super Bowl Ads 2024
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On Sunday, the NFL’s script produced another Hollywood ending for Taylor’s team—but all we want to talk about is the commercials! AdAge estimated the cost for a 30-second unit at $7 million this year, which makes you wonder how much Temu must have paid for at least a half-dozen airings of the same awful spot. (Also, did anyone else notice that when overtime started, the commercials from the first quarter got a second airing in the same order they ran originally? It pays to secure the first Q1 spots!)
With a game that only got exciting near the end, the COHN team was instead paying close attention to the commercials, and here are our favorite spots from the 2024 Advertising Bowl.
What do you want them to walk away remembering? Your brand! I walked away remembering Dunkin’ and Matt Damon; sorry, Ben. (Arnold, you were funny, but which insurance company were you pitching?)
I like all the innuendos and humor. Everyone is calling it the “JLo spot,” but I believe it’s Ben Aflect’s gig as he has done another commercial for them. I like the star power in it, with Ben & JLo, Tom and Matt. It reaches many audiences, and I think humor and emotion are most effective for marketing.
I love this product and have noticed over time that CeraVe shows up as a low-key brand that doesn’t often promote itself in loud ways. It’s cool that they paired with a low-key actor to pose with the most ridiculous set scenes and hilarious messaging for the commercial. It made any Super Bad fan die of laughter!
Having an (almost) teenage daughter in sports and wanting to keep her engaged and promote strong body image and confidence, I loved the Dove ad! It wasn’t a flashy show-stopper like many of the others, but I liked it. The ad was also timely with National Girls and Women in Sports Day (NGWSD)—an annual day of observance held during the first week of February to acknowledge the accomplishments of female athletes, recognize the influence of sports participation for women and girls, and honor the progress and advocation for equality for women in sports.
And this year’s Super Bowl saw a 9% increase in female viewership (thanks T Swift!)
Celebrity cameos, check. Nostalgia, check. Great Super Bowl ads…debatable. I guess it’s about how you measure their success. They certainly filled the Twitter (X) feeds and Google SERPs, so maybe that’s all it takes for Super Bowl ads to be “great” these days. While there was a fair share of your repeat tropes like Budweiser’s Clydesdales, Coors Light’s Chill Train, and Dove’s #keepherconfident campaigns I tend to like the ads that go for a good laugh and border on the absurd. So for me, the best commercial was for Paramount+ which hit all three marks with its cameos, nostalgia, and absurd laughability while also doing what good commercials should do, highlight why your product is different. Aside from its attention-grabbing storyboard, it showed the type of programming only found on Paramount+.
It’s hard to watch commercials and not think about the creative brief. What was the strategy that the agency pitched? What did the brainstorms look like? What clunky line did legal force into copy? How did dozens of smart, well-salaried people sign off on this? These are the thoughts I have watching Super Bowl commercials, and the reason I loved this Poppi spot is I could envision the creative brief perfectly: People don’t know what Poppi is. Despite “Pop” in its name, people don’t know if it’s a seltzer, soda, kombucha, tea, or some new RTD that doesn’t have a name yet. So, let’s create a kick-ass brand anthem with a song everyone loves that evokes soft drink era nostalgia and makes sure everyone watching knows that Poppi is soda. Using the word 13 times in 60 seconds, Poppi’s ad team peppered “soda” into copy once every 5 seconds. I admire it.
State Farm, Kia, Uber Eats
We all love Super Bowl ads for different reasons. Some look for entertainment. Others look for celebrity cameos. And that’s all a lot of fun. For me as a brand marketer, I look for the combination of brand and creativity. What is going to be remembered (positively) and impact the brand or product? Companies spend millions and millions of dollars with agencies like COHN to create one-of-a-kind spots that capture our attention. But at the end of the day, they have to build the brand and ultimately sell the product. Having watched most of 2024’s ads, here is my take on some of the best through that lens of creativity and brand-building impact.
State Farm: This one stands out for me as a brilliant creative message that uses the perfect talent and production to make the point. And after a lifetime of “Like a Good Neighbor” ads, I know exactly who it is for and from. Building on that incredible heritage in a fresh and funny way was the ticket to the number one position.
Kia: This had the perfect combination of storytelling, captivating production and product message. Kia’s new electric EV-9 is not just a car…it is a means to fulfilling dreams like this skater’s experience of competition and family love. Using the electrification of the skating rink as a mirror to the electric Kia being charged took my breath away. A Perfect 10.
Uber Eats: This was the best blend of comedy, celebrity and product messaging I saw all night. The script was imaginative and the performers pulled it off brilliantly. David Schwimmer and Jennifer Anniston were magical. And the little cameo at the end with Usher (I’d love to do a halftime show) was the cherry on top of a great ad that reminds us of all the things Uber Eats can do for you.
He Gets Us
I’m going out on a limb here, and it may not be a popular opinion, at least according to the socials. I thought He Gets Us was very brave. I’m not a religious person by any means, but I thought the message was clear in an era fraught with divides of all kinds. Also appreciated the artistry of the spot – using AI-generated images that evoked the paintings of the masters, it was visually captivating. And if I remembered it the next day, then it did its job.
A close 2nd – Dunkings. Beniffer, Damon, Brady and all fun!
No political statement here, but the Pfizer Museum spot got points for creativity in my book. When the status quo is paying a big-name celebrity to promote your product during the biggest televised sporting event of the year, I was pleased to see something that didn’t lean on the popularity of another to deliver its message. Coupled with an actual concept and the artistic and technological skills needed to execute, this spot reminded me of the good ‘ol days of Advertising, where an idea “had legs.” (Plus, who doesn’t like Queen?)
I really liked the Etsy commercial with the cheese board gift to France. I thought it was clever, funny and the concept was executed well. Among all of the other ads that try to grab your attention, this one actually did get me to stop and focus on it. I hope this becomes a series for Etsy where they pick major gifts throughout history and show the comical reciprocations.
Going offscript here. Our family watched the Nickelodeon broadcast of the game so our ad set looked a little different than the traditional broadcast (no beer commercials). I’m skipping the commercial review and instead diving into Bikini Bottom and the NFL’s audience expansion. Admittedly, we were compromising by tuning into Nick with the hopes that my kids would actually watch the game but I found myself pleasantly surprised. They cleverly wove in the Spongebob schtick in a way that didn’t turn off parents AND they explained the game so that kids could understand the basics. My daughters started asking questions about the rules, players, point structure, penalties, etc. and by the end they were so invested in the actual game that they stopped caring about the Taylor cutaways and more about who was going to win! By far the most meaningful “marketing strategy” of the game for this football-loving mom. Kudos to the NFL and Nick for coming together to not only draw in a new generation of football fans but also create a memorable experience for families!