Disappointing 2024 Super Bowl Ads: A Call for Challenger Brands to Rise

Safaniya Stevenson

It's been a few days, and so what? We needed to process a few things. Now that the confetti has settled and the Kansas City Chiefs have their Lombardi trophy, let's discuss the 2024 Super Bowl ads. If the commercials underwhelmed you, you're not alone. As a challenger brand agency, we can't help but feel disappointed by missed opportunities and uninspired campaigns showcased during the big game. No shade to creators, art directors, and strategists who worked on this year's ads, but overall…mid.

The Super Bowl is considered the battle royale of brand! It's a time to showcase creativity, innovation, and wit. It's a platform where the boldest and most daring marketers shine, commercials become cultural phenomena, and the bar for advertising excellence is set impossibly high. For many brands, that memo must have been left unread in a Slack thread this year.

Instead of captivating storytelling and memorable moments, we experienced a barrage of clichés, recycled ideas, and uninspired celebrity endorsements. From misaligned celebrity endorsements to cringe-worthy attempts at humor, the commercials aired during the 2024 Super Bowl left much to be desired.

As enthusiasts, we planned to create categories and provide awards to brands that did really DOPE work, but unfortunately, we've had to pivot quicker than LeBron James on the block. Rather than dwell on the shortcomings, let's focus on the ads that gave us something to work with this year. As challenger brand marketers, we have an innate ability to disrupt the status quo and redefine what it means to create truly impactful advertising. So, here are a few brands that got it right.

Humanizing Tech

Google Pixel's Guided Frame technology ad is a clear winner in humanizing tech. This message was right on time with some of the negativity surrounding AI right now. Google's ad humanized the product by pulling on audiences' heartstrings, showcasing how accessibility for all can make an impact in ways many of us take for granted.

Aligned Celebrity Influencer

Ahead of the big game, Cera Ve leveraged online influencers and celebrity, Michael Cera, to create buzz for the brand ahead of time. The witty alignment between Michael's last name and the brand name sent beauty influencers into a tizzy, making all of us question whether Michael Cera was actually part of the brand. Dermatologists cleared this up in Sunday's ad, but nonetheless, it was one of the more clever and aligned celebrity ad pairings we saw.

Features at the Forefront

Using Beyonce to showcase your unbreakable network, we see you, Verizon! If any celebrity could break the internet, it would be the Queen B herself. Verizon's ad did a good job creatively placing Beyonce in internet-breakable and totally plausible scenarios to show you have to literally be bigger than Beyonce to bring them down. Sounds like a challenge if we've ever heard one.

History with a Twist

We love a good history lesson and leave it to Oreo to have us rethink the coin flip. Oreo's With a Twist ad featured prominent historic moments being defined by the outcome of twisting an Oreo in half. Kris Jenner's decision to give the green light to Keeping Up with the Kardashians gave us all a history lesson. Along with flipping a coining, rolling a dice, or a quick round of rock paper scissors, Oreo has us using "the twist."

A Smart Sequel

Finally, let's give Dunkin' Donuts a shout-out for their sequel-inspired ad this year. Ben Affleck, Mister New England himself, nailed it as the brand's spokesperson last year. Teaming up with an A-list crew including Matt Damon, Tom Brady, and Jack Harlow, Affleck hilariously crashes Jennifer Lopez's gig, serving up a perfectly cringe revenge plot. The commercial brilliantly plays on their real-life relationship dynamics, delivering a win for Dunkin'. And hey, we even got a cameo from Fat Joe to top it off.

While this year's Super Bowl ads may have fallen flat overall, it's crucial for brand marketers to recognize the missed opportunities and push the envelope even further next year. As we analyze and reflect on the highs and lows of this year's Super Bowl ads, let's use them as inspiration to elevate our strategies and deliver truly impactful advertising that resonates with audiences long after the confetti has settled. Remember, 2024 is the year of the challenger, and mentality drives attention. Combining cultural intelligence, diversity, and strong storytelling capabilities should be at the forefront of advertising. At least it should be. Whether it was continuously on full display during the 2024 Super Bowl is a different story.

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