Top big game commercials and winning themes.
A classic game on the field, but not a vintage year in the ad breaks. creative effectiveness platform System1 surveyed more than 10,000 Americans on this year’s big game ads, and Michelob, Reese’s and Hellmann’s are the public’s favourites.
System1’s Test Your Ad platform tests consumers’ emotional responses throughout an ad, assigning creative a score of 1.0 to 5.9 Stars based on long-term brand-building potential. Ads that make people feel intense, positive emotions like happiness and surprise score high on the scale. Usually only 1% of ads secure a 5-Star score.
This year, the ads averaged 2.7-Stars. That’s a drop on 2023’s 2.9-Star average, though still above the 2.3-Star average for all US ads. No ads this year scored 5-Stars with the public.
Even in a low-scoring year the best ads are still excellent. The audience’s Top 3 took diverse approaches to creative effectiveness. The 2024 advertising MVP is soccer superstar Lionel Messi (below), whose beach football skills gave Michelob’s winning ad a summery vibe which resonated with the audience. Close behind in 2nd place was Reese’s riotous slapstick ad, which showed you don’t have to use celebrities to make an impact. And in 3rd place, Hellmann’s “Mayo Cat” parodied instant stardom while making a serious point about food waste.
The highest-ranking debut advertiser was chocolate brand Lindt, whose chilled-out ad featured a Perry Como soundtrack and their familiar Master Chocolatier character. Pfizer also scored well for a debutant, scoring 3.8-Stars with a Queen-soundtracked ad celebrating 175 years of medical achievement.
As the ad prices continue to rise, more and more are relying on celebrities to make their investment pay off – often deploying multiple stars in the same ad. In total, 39 ads, or 56%, leveraged celebrities, with an average score of 2.6-Stars.
Celebrities aren’t the only familiar faces. 13 ads, or 19%, featured their recurring fluent devices, which are defined as brand-owned scenarios or characters, like the M&M’s Spokescandies or the E-Trade baby. Ads with a fluent device achieved an average of 3.1-Stars, higher than the overall average.
In a year where overall effectiveness dropped, our top 11 ads (the winning team on the field) show some key themes of the successful big game commercials.
Strong narratives are a big effectiveness driver, and ads from Hellmann’s, the NFL and Budweiser used their time to tell funny, inspiring or dramatic tales.
Keep it simple.
Many ads tried to cram multiple mini-scenes and rapid edits into their 30 seconds of fame, but winning ads like Michelob, T-Mobile and Skechers focused on one idea executed brilliantly.
Go for laughs.
Humor continues to play a big role in the ads. Reese’s and Skechers brought slapstick energy to their ads while Pfizer livened up an inspirational story with amusing visuals.
Use celebrities well.
Celebrities are everywhere on game night, but the best ads let their stars do things only they can, from Messi’s fantastic footwork for Michelob to Mr.T acting like himself for Skechers.
Leverage fluent devices.
Familiarity breeds contentment for audiences who like seeing brand-owned characters they recognize. The Budweiser Clydesdales and M&M’s Spokescandies are big game regulars and once again placed their brands on the winning team.
“Superior Beach” – 4.8-Stars
“Yes!” – 4.7-Stars
“Mayo Cat” – 4.5-Stars
“That T-Mobile Home Internet Feeling” – 4.5-Stars
“Life is a Ball” – 4.4-Stars
“Inspiring Young Athletes Everywhere” – 4.3-Stars
“Old School Delivery” – 4.2-Stars
“It All Starts with a Twist” – 4.1-Stars
“Mr.T in Skechers” – 3.9-Stars
“The M&M’S Almost Champions Ring of Comfort” – 3.9-Stars
“Here’s to Science” – 3.8-Stars
“These ads are a huge investment for a brand, and if you get it right they’re well worth it. It’s no surprise brands are trying to fit as much into their airtime as possible with loads of celebrities and blink-and-you’ll-miss-it scenes,” said Jon Evans, chief customer officer, System1. “But these results show that the winning brands on game night take a more focused approach. They execute simple ideas brilliantly, tell great stories, use celebrities and brand assets wisely and never forget to entertain.”