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The funniest, weirdest, and most expensive ads of Super Bowl LVIII, 2024

Now, I can’t tell the difference between the Chicago 69ers or New York Yankees (😉) BUT! I do love ads, and the Super Bowl is like a Gatsby-Christmas-Carnival-Holi-Festival-Oktoberfest extravaganza for the advertising industry. Only more expensive.


I spent the earlier years of my career working in advertising, but the past decade has been dedicated to startup world. I've worked directly with over 100 entrepreneurs & their teams over the years, and am now proud to continue supporting the early-stage business ecosystem by sharing learnings & spotlighting diverse business leaders on my podcast, Strategy & Tragedy; by mentoring & advising budding founders on the Oneday programme, and; by working with startups on their branding at BOMBA.


But you know when you've been on a diet for a while and that chocolate cake just looks too irresistible?


At least once a year it's a guilty treat to dive into the mad world of the biggest brands, the top agencies, and the most expensive game in advertising (quite literally).


At a record-breaking $7M per 30-second spot, the Super Bowl is the most expensive media for advertisers today. Seemingly astonishing for our digital age, however - as marketing professor Mark Ritson attests, TV is (still) the most effective media channel for big brands today - despite the allure of TikTok... Combine this with Scott 'Prof G' Galloway's own attestation: advertising during live sports is like friggin' gold dust. Put the two insights together at an American Dream of a 100M+ viewership football game, and you have an eye-watering price tag to sell some beer. Or mayonnaise. Or soap.


Anyway, in this self-serving, salivating blog post, I highlight the funniest, the weirdest, the most touching, and most expensive ads of this year's beautiful game, Super Bowl LVIII - let's see if you agree:



THE FUNNIEST


Easily for me, the funniest Super Bowl ad this year is Mountain Dew's 'Having a blast' featuring “America’s sweetheart” (lol!) Aubrey Plaza.


The real-life Emily the Strange hits just the right comedy note with her deadpan acting in stark contrast to her lines and settings.


The remixed track, Edamame ft Rich Brian by bbno$, is just so damn listenable too - I could easily have this on repeat.


Add a cameo by her former Parks & Rec colleague, Nick Offerman (a.k.a. 'Ron Swanson'), and you're just tipped over the edge.


Created by Goodby Silverstein & Partners and produced by Direct Focus, watch it for yourself below:




THE WEIRDEST


Ok, not exactly weird but a very interesting and surprising discovery from one...



Initially this was going to go in 'The Most Expensive' category - featuring the likes of Jennifer Aniston, David Schwimmer, Victoria & David Beckham, the talent fees alone must have absolutely blown this ad out the water.


BUT!


I re-categorised this scrolling through the comments on YouTube...


95%* of the comments on there are congratulating and applauding a lesser-known Keith Leak Jr.


Who the heck?


Keith Leak Jr. is an actor and writer known for The Big What If, Smosh, and I Gotta Dookie. Honestly, I've never seen any of these, and - checking out his social - he hasn't even hit the 500k mark on Instagram**. But the very young millennial is a stomach cancer survivor and promotes disease prevention, which seems to have really resonated with a highly-engaged audience.


The key takeaway here from a marketing perspective is that sometimes you really never know what will take off, and have to be open to the general public doing weird & wonderful things!



THE EXPENSIVEST


Now, I don’t know for sure, but my guess is that the most expensive ad was either that Uber Eats one above OR this one:


‘Superior Beach’ for Michelob ULTRA by FCB New York



Why? It features Lionel Messi plus a cameo from Jason Sudeikis.


I also feel like putting this in The Most Expensive category because the guesstimated cost far exceeds the commercial quality and expected ROI of the spot. Ouch. Yeah it's just boring in my opinion - not a great ad, obviously just splashing the cash on the talent here.


Sorry FCB! You interviewed me once and never gave me feedback so I don't feel too bad 🤷🏻‍♀️



THE HEART-TUGGIEST


I'm torn between two here; the top spot for the most touching ads (that definitely didn't make me cry) either goes to...

Hard Knocks for Dove by Ogilvy (Global ECD Daniel Fisher), produced by Dark Energy Films, directed by Lucy Bridger, and edited by Final Cut:



“The emotional trauma young girls can face in a sporting environment, during a time when their body is changing, is sometimes greater than any physical knock they may sustain playing sports. The whacks of a failed landing in gymnastics, nor the hard tackles of soccer are the primary driver in making girls drop out of sports by age 14, it’s low body confidence." - Daniel Fisher, Ogilvy.


OR...


'Javier in Frame' for Google Pixel by GUT




On the Dove one, the underpinning insight for 'Hard Knocks' was that 45% of girls drop out of sports due to low body confidence. A statistic I'm only sadly surprised isn't higher - having experienced this personally myself and knowing many other girlfriends at that same age go through the nosedive in body confidence. It's real.


From a brand strategy perspective, Dove has long pioneered their women's empowerment stance - thanks to Fernando Machado, I believe. Of course many comments on YouTube understandably question what the hell this has to do with selling soap (lol) but of course these lowly consumers are not versed in the art of brand-building vs. direct response ads.


From soap to phones, Google has also cemented its own big-brand ad style as tugging at the heartstrings, with previous Cannes Lions winners and holiday campaigns created in a similar vein.


This year's emotive ad for the Super Bowl shows how its AI-powered Guided Frame feature is improving accessibility.


“AI is the star of Google's Super Bowl 2024 ad for the Pixel 8, but Google shows a more wholly commendable aspect of the advances the tech is making possible." - Joseph Foley, CreativeBloq.


SPECIAL MENTION


Of course Weird Barbie can't be neatly categorised into one section, so here's a special mention for Hellman’s 'Mayo Cat' ad starring Kate McKinnon, by VML.



Tom Ewing of System1, the research platform for creative effectiveness, says:


"The ad is fresh, funny and a hit with viewers: “Mayo Cat” scores 4.5-Stars, which would have landed Hellmann’s in the Top 5 of last year’s Super Bowl commercials. It’s also a smash on short-term Spike Rating and on Brand Fluency, posting Exceptional scores in both.

"And yes, the cat is a big part of that. But it’s not the only part. The fast-moving ad is stuffed with cultural references and makes excellent use of its celebrity guests, Kate McKinnon and Pete Davidson. Davidson is back for a second year running for the brand and they make even better use of him this time, riffing on his reputation as a celebrity romeo without it feeling too tacky. It’s a perfect example of using celebrities in the right way, by taking what they’re known for and making it larger than life but also fitting it to your story’s needs."


There’s also a serious underlying message to the ad, too; waste not want not. Hellmann’s are fighting against food waste by positioning the product as the magic ingredient to turn trash-destined leftovers into a tasty snack. Nice one, Hellmann's!


I'm off to make a sandwich...


-


After running my own six-figure agency working with 100+ startups, I now share startup learnings on the podcast, Strategy & Tragedy; I help entrepreneurs launch their businesses with Oneday; I connect underrepresented founders to funding opportunities with Ada Ventures, and; help scale-ups with their branding at BOMBA.



🔔 Follow me on LinkedIn for more practical tips and insightful commentary on branding, marketing, and entrepreneurship.




*Statistic not accurate.

**Followers do not equate to your worth as a person or your talent. But these days it's noteworthy when so many new stars have followers in the millions.






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