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Super Bowl Ads: The Good, the Bad and the Trends

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Authored by Luke Cunningham and Shelby Anderson

The Chiefs and the Swifties may be leaving Vegas with the Lombardi trophy, but they weren’t the only winners (and to that effect, Brock Purdy and the Niners weren’t the only losers). The $7 million, 30-second ad slots during the big game paid off for some and fell short for others. Let’s look back at the triumphs and downfalls of this year’s ads.


the winner

Dunkin. Just like this year’s game, picking a winning commercial was a close one. But Dunkin Donuts’ DunKings ran its routes perfectly. The ad was filled with A-list celebrities and featured a funny play on everyone’s favorite catchphrase from “Good Will Hunting”: “How do you like them donuts?” What really set Dunkin apart was its strategy leading up to and following its Super Bowl commercial. Ahead of the game, the brand released a series of ads with Ben Affleck foreshadowing the launch of the DunKings campaign. A day after the ad aired, the new menu launched, and Dunkin announced the jumpsuits worn by Affleck, Tom Brady and Matt Damon would be available for purchase. The key to success? Dunkin treated its Super Bowl ad as just one component of a larger, multifaceted strategy, earning widespread acclaim from fans – and likely a boost in sales for hot pink track suits.


The Trick Play

Disney+. Nearly every major Super Bowl commercial featured A-list celebrities and plotlines squeezed into 30-second clips. But not Disney’s. To promote its streaming service Disney+, Disney kept it simple with black text over a white background listing the most heartwarming catchphrases from its movies. The simple callbacks reminded viewers of their favorite classics, playing into the nostalgia of the brand, and likely saved the company millions of dollars by not featuring a celebrity spokesperson. Sometimes, simple is the most effective.


The Hail Mary

Verizon. Verizon’s “You Won’t Break Me” Beyoncé commercial was certainly a fan favorite this year. Timing the advertisement with Beyoncé’s music drop and album announcement may secure Verizon’s spot as one of the most memorable Super Bowl LVIII ads. But will Verizon itself be overshadowed by excitement for new music from Beyoncé? We’ll have to watch and see how this play turns out.


The 2024 Playbook


Artificial Intelligence

While not as “in your face” as crypto ads have been the last few years, there was no shortage of AI talk in 2024’s big game ads. Microsoft CoPilot touted itself as an AI tool for people to stay in the game – continuing your education, starting a business, making a movie and more. Google showed off the capabilities of its new Pixel phone’s Guided Frame AI photography feature in this tearjerker. And the AI conversation went beyond products, as Beyoncé showed off her “Beyonc-AI” robot in a comedic attempt to break the internet with Verizon. Sports drink company “Body Armor” started its ad slot with AI videos and a robotic voiceover, only to cut to real people exercising, ultimately claiming that its drink is the opposite of artificial: It’s all natural.

PR Takeaway: Expect a continued and growing interest in AI. While the conversation has been running for a while, there’s still a strong opportunity to share opinions and predictions surrounding the technology: how it can help, how it can hurt and what next steps to take.


Commentary on Tech-Reliance

Big game ads this year weren’t afraid to comment on the 21st century’s reliance on technology. Squarespace poked fun at people being screen-obsessive, not bothering to look up to see an alien invasion until the news of it popped up on their phone (a website makes it real). Snapchat called for fewer [social media] likes and more “love”, and fewer [social media] friends for more [real] friends. It called out the superficial tendencies of social media and re-introduced itself as something different.

PR Takeaway: When analyzing your strategy for 2024, think about what makes your organization real. If you live in the tech space, your brand can benefit from sharing ways tech can be more personal or human. There may be a stigma or concern around becoming detached from reality and over-reliant on technology, so make it clear how tech can help us foster real connections and improve lives.



One of the biggest trends we saw this year was the lean into nostalgia. From beloved TV character reunions (Scrubs, Friends, Parks and Recreation, Suits, who else are we missing?) to Volkswagen’s “Celebrating 75 Years” campaign, many brands sought to evoke nostalgic feelings among the audience. Robert F Kennedy Jr. pulled out an old JFK campaign ad, and Budweiser stuck to a traditional Clydesdale story with “old school delivery.” Even “Billy” in this sleek Toyota ad was feeling like a kid again in his new Toyota truck. Rather than going for shock value (with a few exceptions – looking at you Reese’s), companies are leaning into authenticity and sentiment.

PR Takeaway: PR pros can expect more industries to capitalize on authenticity over click-bait/shock-value mentions. While new tech and products are flashy, consumers want to know you’re legitimate, proven and trustworthy.


Super Bowl ads can be a benchmark of what’s to come in the marketing and PR landscape. While we saw some successful exceptions, we can expect continued and growing discussions around AI, an aim to make tech approachable as opposed to isolating and a push for authenticity.

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