Groundhog Day: Special Super Bowl Ad Edition

Groundhog Day: Special Super Bowl Ad Edition

Lane Strauss   |     February 12, 2024

Every Monday after the Super Bowl, it’s the same conversation:

Two years ago.

PERSON AT THE OFFICE: The commercials stunk this year.

ME: OK.

Last year.

SAME PERSON AT THE OFFICE: The commercials stunk this year.

ME: You said that last year. 

SAME PERSON AT THE OFFICE: I know, but they were worse this time.

Here’s a harsh dose of reality: There’s an unrealistic expectation every commercial every year in the Big Game is going to be the greatest commercial ever created. The truth is, over 58 Super Bowls (sorry, LVIII), there are only a handful that have stood the test of time:

Top of mind: 1984 (Apple). Wassup (Budweiser). Bird v Jordan (McDonald’s). Mean Joe Greene 
(Coca-Cola).

(Fun fact: in a previous life, I did a little sports writing. Here’s a short interview I had with Mean Joe about football and his Coke spot. Turns out he wasn’t so mean. But he was full of Coca-Cola.)

In my opinion, there was one home run, a few nice ads, many that will quickly be forgotten and some that were just, “What were you thinking?” 

Feel free to disagree with my thoughts. I have no problem being friends with people who are wrong. :-)

Ready? 

III, II, I … go!

Observation No. 1:

Football? You Belong to Me, by Taylor Swift.

A story came out a couple of weeks ago that T. Swift has generated an additional $331 million of revenue to the NFL this year, and brands are jumping on the bandwagon … swiftly. Not only did e.l.f. Cosmetics return, but NYX Professional Makeup showcased its lip plumper, and Dove came back for the first time in nearly two decades.

Cetaphil did a regional spot with 50 Taylor easter eggs. Fifty! Her favorite colors, lucky numbers. Everything. She’s helped bring an entirely new audience to the game. 

Boy, the breakup album is going to epic after No. 87’s outburst yesterday, isn’t it? Yeesh.

Observation No. 2:

AI isn’t quite taking my job … yet.

While artificial intelligence continues to mind-alter the world, all the ads this year were still humanly generated. Phew. It’ll get there at some point, but the subtlety and nuance aren’t quite there. Nevertheless, several products were advertised using artificial intelligence.  

Etsy went funny.

Google went emotional.

Microsoft went inspiring.

Crowdstrike went wrong.

Observation No. 3:

Celebs. Oh, What a Feeling.

Stars have always been a mainstay of Big Game ads, and this year was no different. Here are some of the celebrities that brands chose for their commercials:

Patrick Stewart (Paramount+): 83 years young

Christopher Walken (BMW): 80

Arnold Schwarzenegger (State Farm … I’ll get to him later.): 76

I know, I know. Nostalgia. But think about this: 

At the end of the Coors commercial, the woman says to the conductor of the Coors Light Chill Train, “Thanks LL Cool J.” Just in case you didn’t know who it was.

At the end of the BMW commercial, the announcer says, “There’s only one Christopher Walken, and there’s only one Ultimate Driving Machine.” Just in case you didn’t know who it was.

Note to self: if you have to tell people who your star is, are you using the right star?

And finally, speaking of nostalgia, two brands, Nerds and T-Mobile reinvented the most famous scene from Flashdance. 

What a feeling. What a coincidence. Times two. Not so much. 

Drumroll, please.

OK, OK. I know you’ve been dying for my take on the best and worst Super Bowl ads. Without further ado, here are my Top and Bottom V.

Top V

Volkswagen: An American Love Story

They had all the money in the world to do it right … and boy, did they. Absolutely perfect. Just a lovely, brilliant piece of work. This, folks, is how you connect with your audience. Everything else from last night was a distant second.

Snapchat: Less Social Media

I thought they did a wonderful job defining how their brand is differentiated in the social media world. 

It’s really, really nice. You cannot leave this without smiling.

Bet MGM

Vince Vaughn and Tom Brady are so good. (Do you know how hard it is for me to type that? I loathe Tom Brady. He crushed my team for years.)

Popeyes: The Wait Is Over

Ken Jeong: always funny. 


State Farm: Like a Good Neighbaaa.

How can you not love it when a celebrity can make fun of himself? Nice execution with Ahnold.

Bottom V

And … my best of the worst Super Bowl ads. 

Oreo: Twist On It

“Twist on it?” Terrible premise. It’s not something anyone would ever say. You would say, “Let me think about it.” Twist on it? Nope. Oreo nailed it a decade ago with this spur-of-the moment tweet during a Super Bowl blackout and then this? Hard no.

Mr. T In Skechers

Sales, shmales. Mr. T is brutal. The A-Team did not work on this execution. (I wonder who’s gonna get that joke?)

Temu 

Temu, you just spent $21 million on the same ad three times. I feel like I just watched a Disney Princess playing Candy Crush. Help me understand.


Starry: It’s Time to See Other Sodas

Ice Spice is having a dating dilemma between two cans of soda after she dumped another one. How do you search that on tinder?

So just to clarify, this year there were commercials with Posh Spice and Ice Spice, but no Vanilla Ice? That’s nice.

Kia: Perfect 10

I’m sure there will be a skillion people who will do the whole, “I’m not crying, you’re crying” thing, but this is a big swing and miss for me. So contrived. The empty seat at the arena … the disappointed look … the miraculous glorious pond at grandpa’s house while he’s staring out the window 200 yards away. You’ve got an electric vehicle, but you can’t Facetime from the event? Yeesh. Barf bag on line three.

In conclusion, did I see anything that will stand the test of time? Without question, VW. Everything else? Probably not. But at the very least, I appreciate that for one day a year, people don’t hate what I do.

Well, most people. 

“Good morning, person at the office. Your thoughts.”

Want to chat about how Falls & Co can help you with your Big Game ad? (Or fun, local equivalent?) Let’s talk!

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Lane Strauss

Lane Strauss, Senior Vice President/Creative Director, is the fearless director of Falls’ creative group — not to mention an expert designer and thought generator. Throughout his career, Lane has worked on an expansive client roster, including accounts in industries such as automotive, culinary, education, consumer products, industrial manufacturing, nonprofits and more.