Super Bowl Ads 2024: Creatives Review the Highs and Lows

ADWEEK asked creative leaders to review the best and worst Super Bowl 58 commercials

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Super Bowl commercials always come under immense scrutiny, and now the ad industry’s creative leaders have weighed in. 

This wasn’t just the year that Taylor Swift’s appearance eclipsed the game. During the ad breaks, Beyonce tried to break the internet (again); Ben Affleck debuted his band the DunKings; Michael Cera pranked people into believing he was a skin care visionary; Arnold Schwarzenegger made fun of his own accent; and Patrick Stewart threw a (cartoon) child. 

Comedy was king and even the celebrities (of which there were plenty) didn’t take themselves too seriously. And as advertisers like CeraVe and Verizon demonstrated, the entertainment now extends far beyond the Big Game.

ADWEEK asked creative leaders to share their takes on this year’s ads. While some thought the commercials were too formulaic, others applauded examples of creative risk-taking on advertising’s biggest stage. 

The Super Bowl ads that worked

Paramount+ 

“’Throw the child!’ How did they get that past legal? When celebs are used right, an ad plays like its own mini masterclass.”
-Samira Ansari, CCO, Ogilvy New York

“l loved the Paramount+ ad and thought the cutdown still had a ton of charm. ‘Barrymore, shut your face!’ was the line I didn’t know I needed in my life, but so glad to see air on national TV. It was pure entertainment, and for an entertainment company that I don’t really hear or think too much about, it leveled up my opinion of them.”
-Jaime Robinson, co-founder & CCO, Joan

“I’m trying to picture the conversation behind Paramount’s spot, and it makes me giggle to think of the creative team having to approach all the different IP stakeholders for those iconic characters. To sell in a line like ‘throw the child’ with a straight face, that’s a magic trick.”
–Sam Shepherd, ECD, Uncommon New York

Verizon

“Show me Beyonce trying to break the internet with a lemonade stand, BeyoncAI, BarBey and a performance in space, and we’re just about done here. The storytelling was incredible, made uniquely possible by the one woman on the planet who truly could break the internet, and it made the brand and product message loud and clear as a consistent throughline. It was an epic blast off for her new album.”
-Liza Suloti, co-founder & CCO, Shadow

CeraVe

“Funny is back with a vengeance this year, as with Michael Cera’s cream for CeraVe.”
-Josh Green, ECD, House 337’s sports practice

Dunkin’

“The brand truly understands the power of self-aware comedy and leveraging celebrity endorsements that are not only relevant but also deeply rooted in contemporary culture. It seamlessly blends humor with cultural references, creating memorable moments that resonate with viewers.”
-Shayne Millington, CCO, McCann New York

“The best line in a Super Bowl 58 commercial was ‘It’s really hard to be your friend’ from Matt Damon in Dunkin’.”
-Greg Hahn, co-founder & CCO, Mischief

Popeyes

“I found the Popeyes chicken wings spot hilarious. Simple idea that sells the product that’s brilliantly written and performed. Overall though, is the whole thing becoming a little formulaic?”
-Ian Heartfield, co-founder and CCO, New Commercial Arts

Duolingo

“Duolingo’s wordless five seconds of an owl’s butt paired with a timely push notification made a bigger splash than most 60-second spots in the Super Bowl. Lovable and weird, the Duolingo Bird cements himself as a cultural icon both on and off social. A brilliant use of both the media and the moment.”
-Chloe Bayhack, senior copywriter, and Caroline Mortensen, senior art director, FCB

And one trend: Self-aware humor

“If there was one trend that shone this year, it was celebrities mocking themselves, whether it was Michael Cera’s haunting CeraVe commercial, Jennifer Aniston and the Beckhams in Uber Eats, or Anthony Hopkins donning the Wrexham mascot suit. They all put ego to one side and shared in-jokes with their audience at their own expense. Even Christopher Walken faced members of the public impersonating him in his BMW ad. Comedy was ultimately the winner of this Super Bowl.”
-Ross Neil, deputy ECD, VCCP

The Super Bowl ads that flopped 

Cetaphil

“Cetaphil’s attempt fell short, especially considering the controversy surrounding their use of a storyline originating from TikTok, highlighting the importance of understanding the cultural landscape and audience sentiment in advertising.”
-Shayne Millington, CCO, McCann New York

Oreo

“I always love a spot built on an insight—in this case, it was that countless Oreo eaters twist it open to eat it. With that said, the journey through history where key decisions were made based on the twist of an Oreo left me wanting more.”
-Liza Suloti, co-founder & CCO, Shadow

Bass Pro Shop

“Bass Pro Shop’s [voiceover]-driven ad felt exactly like that: an ad. Doing too much telling and not enough showing, Bass Pro Shop failed to tap into their target’s emotional connection to the great outdoors. Not to mention, Bass Pro Shop is having a moment in Gen Z streetwear on which they could have capitalized. Overall, they missed the mark.”
-Chloe Bayhack, senior copywriter, and Caroline Mortensen, senior art director, FCB

Dove and Michelob Ultra

“Dove’s ‘It’s the Hard-Knock Life’ is a powerful message, but it feels like a replay of something we’ve all seen before. And then there’s Michelob Ultra, which has already generated lots of debate between researchers (it tests brilliantly) and creatives (where’s the idea?) I might be wrong, but I’m backing team creative on this one.”
-Josh Green, ECD, House 337’s sports practice

Travis Kelce

“When you have a person who is cultivating their personal brand, like Travis Kelce is, every moment they are on camera is an ad. In fact, Travis Kelce probably was THE brand with the most at stake during the game: the support of the crowd, the endless sponsorship and commercial money, the love of TayTay. The moment he charged at Andy Reid, shouting and knocking him off balance, was the moment he dinged his brand. He looked like an out-of-control bully vs. the sweetheart of America’s sweetheart. I woke up this morning wondering if he was suffering, and hoping for the best for him. I mean, I guess he did also win the Super Bowl, so…”
-Jaime Robinson, co-founder & CCO, Joan

And one trend: a fixation on celebs

“It still feels like there is a mantra of ‘If you want to look big in the Super Bowl, bring in a knight or Hollywood (male) icon’—Sir Patrick Stewart, Sir Anthony Hopkins, Christopher Walken. Don’t get me wrong, they are great actors, but I do kinda begin to forget which brand they are pushing. Do we really have to be quite so reliant on big fame to do ‘big’ ads?”
-Melissa Robertson, CEO, Dark Horses

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