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Super Bowl ads aren’t cheap, with 30 seconds of screen time costing an average of $7 million. That’s why effectiveness is so important for advertisers that hedge their bets on the Big Game.
Although the Kansas City Chiefs might have clinched their Super Bowl LVIII victory against the San Francisco 49ers in a nail-biting finale, the real winners off the pitch include Booking.com, Reese’s and X.
ADWEEK crunched the data to unpack the effectiveness of this year’s Super Bowl creative, based on ad testing data from Kantar and System1, to determine what ads ranked highest across different categories, from brand building to fan favorite.
Post-match, Kantar tested 66 national Super Bowl ads using its Link AI tool, which predicts creative effectiveness. The technology ranks ads across three categories—impact, enjoyment and brand equity—to determine a score out of 100. Top-tier brands are named as those scoring in the upper 30% across two or more of these key performance indicators.
Elsewhere, System1 used audience reaction to test ads against “four Cs”: characters, celebrities, cultural references and comedy. Each ad was assigned a score between 1 and 5.9 stars, with spots that fostered positive emotions (such as happiness and surprise) scoring higher on the scale.
Keep scrolling to see which brands scored a touchdown in 2024.
1. Booking.com was Kantar’s most effective ad
Kantar crowned Booking.com’s star-studded spot as its top performer.
The “Book Whoever You Want to Be” spot featured actor, producer and writer Tina Fey adopting different personalities—with help from Glenn Close and former 30 Rock co-stars Jane Krakowski and Jack McBrayer—to match the millions of hotels, vacation rentals and destinations available on Booking.com’s platform.
Booking.com’s Big Game offering scored 91 for impact, 88 for enjoyment and 89 for its likelihood to drive brand equity in the long-term.
2. Reese’s, Doritos and Popeyes also drive long-term growth
Reese’s frenetic but fun “Yes” campaign took second place in Kantar’s Super Bowl 58 league table, with an impact score of 86 and an enjoyment rating of 76. Its brand equity rating was 73.
3. Michelob Ultra and Lionel Messi struck a note with fans
System1’s star rating formula predicts long-term brand growth based on an ad’s creative quality, measuring peoples’ emotional responses to each ad.
Michelob Ultra’s ninth consecutive Super Bowl appearance, “Superior Beach“—which featured soccer legend Lionel Messi, actor Jason Sudeikis and National Football League Hall of Fame quarterback Dan Marino enjoying a day at the beach—took top marks from viewers.
The ad received a whopping 4.8 stars when it came to audience reactions.
In Kantar’s rankings, the spot placed at No. 10. Here, it placed high for enjoyment with a score of 82. However, in terms of its ability to grow brand equity, Kantar’s predictive tech ranked it at the lower end of the scale with a tally of just 30.
Back to System1’s ratings, Reese’s took second place once more with 4.7 stars, while Hellmann’s battle against food waste fronted by Kate McKinnon, Mayo Cat and Pete Davidson clocked in at No. 3 with 4.5 stars.
Those aren’t bad scores at all considering the fact that this year’s cohort of Super Bowl sports averaged 2.7 stars, down from 2023’s 2.9-star average. No ads this year scored 5 stars with the public.
4. Kantar and System1’s data shows there’s no one blueprint for effectiveness
Even in a low-scoring year, System1’s top three ads took very diverse approaches to creative effectiveness.
MVP Michelob Ultra’s easy, summery vibe resonated with audiences, while Reese’s riotous slapstick ad showed that you don’t have to use celebrities to make an impact. Elsewhere Hellmann’s “Mayo Cat” parodied instant stardom while making a serious point about food waste.
As the price of media slots continues to rise, more advertisers rely on stars to make their investment work harder, often deploying multiple celebrities in the same ad. But celebrities aren’t an instant ticket to effectiveness.
In total, 39 ads, or 56%, leveraged celebrities, with an average score of 2.6 stars.
Kantar’s data, meanwhile, highlighted how the average return on investment for Super Bowl ads with celebrities is typically higher than those without. Its report said having multiple celebrities doesn’t necessarily translate into better ad performance.
Instead, its analysts recommend that brands choose ambassadors that make sense for both the brand and the storyline. It pointed to Booking.com as a strong example of a brand that figured out how to cut through the noise with A-listers.
Kantar also highlighted Uber Eats’ “Don’t Forget Uber Eats,” fronted by David and Victoria Beckham—which scored 85 for impact in its rankings—as a great example of leaning into pop culture through famous faces.
5. Lindt was the highest-ranking debut advertiser
According to System1, the highest-ranking debut advertiser was chocolate brand Lindt, which opted for a chilled-out ad scored by Perry Como and featuring the brand’s familiar “Master Chocolatier” character.
Pfizer also scored well for a debutant, achieving 3.8 stars with a Queen-soundtracked ad celebrating 175 years of medical achievement.
6. For Super Bowl 59, brands will need to plot their game plan to deliver maximum impact
For Forrester senior analyst Mo Allibhai, the ads he believes will be the most impactful drove an emotional response underpinned by storytelling.
“The most effective ads were hilariously memorable—like the Paramount+ ad with Sir Patrick Stewart tossing Arnold into a cliffside, or Ben Affleck’s maximum cringe effort on behalf of his beloved Dunkin’ Donuts, or tugged at our emotional cores, like the ad showing Google’s Pixel phone and its assistive features powered by AI,” he said.
“Microsoft CoPilot and Amazon Web Services’ ads failed to connect as deeply, because despite boasting class-leading products and higher production values, they simply aren’t strong storytellers,” he added.
According to Kantar, a Super Bowl spot is over 20 times more effective at building brand awareness than a regular TV ad. Beyond driving long-term growth, they also drive short-term sales, with behavioral research company Veylinx finding that Super Bowl Sunday ads fuel a 6.4% increase in demand among viewers versus traditional primetime media buys.
With the investment and time-intensive planning offering such big returns, the grass on the pitch won’t even get a chance to recover before advertisers start anticipating Super Bowl 59.