Welcome to the 2024 Super Bowl Ad Awards For The Non-Poetic! Super Bowl LVIII is history and the Chiefs are again Super Bowl champions! And it’s time to reveal our judging panel’s (me) top honors for this year’s Super Bowl ads.
Everyone has their opinions of the best and worst, funniest and failures, award winners and money wasters, noteworthy and not worthy. But our Super Bowl Ad Awards may stray wildly from the standard accolades for Super Bowl ads. Our goal is to recognize the Super Bowl ads that stuck and the ones that sucked. Our goal is to recognize the ads that resonated with the person who watched the game first, the commercials second and had a beer or two (from the viewpoint of an advertising guy who worked Super Bowl promotions in bars for 15 years). So, without further non-poetry…
The Super Bowl A For Execution But… Award
Pfizer ran a fun little ad that celebrated science and innovation through history and featured Albert Einstein, Isaac Newton, Galileo and others. OK, fine. It’s a nice little pat-yourself-on-the-back corporate feel-good ad that was likely made to counter Pfizer’s ad encouraging people to get a Covid vaccination (which obviously lit up the anti-vax crowd). But right at the end of the spot, the company switches gears and shows us a little girl leaving the hospital as “LetsOutdoCancer.com” appears on the screen. It was as if they couldn’t decide on what message they wanted to emphasize and, instead, tried to jam in both ideas. Ultimately, it made the first part of the ad appear superfluous and silly when superimposed with the serious message of beating cancer as the (overly broad) call to action.
The Office Dog Honors Memorial Award
This is a tough one, as this year marks the first Super Bowl Ad Awards For The Non-Poetic without the judging help of my beloved Office Dog. He was the goddess of boys! In Opie’s memory, this award honors the best use of animals (preferably monkeys) in Super Bowl ads. However, monkeys seem to be passé in Super Bowl ads these days. But this year, animals overall were a rare commodity (save for animated creatures and the Planet of the Apes movie promo). Reese’s gave us a fun spot that checked all the classic Super Bowl TV spot boxes (even though it got old and predictable fast), and it featured a doggie twirling a Hula Hoop around its “waist.” Ultimately, the Office Dog Award winner was Budweiser, who featured a yellow Labrador saving the day and leading the Budweiser Clydesdales through a blinding snowstorm to make a heroic delivery. It was short (only :30 seconds), it was in the fourth quarter and it will have zero impact on Budweiser’s sales, but it did have a cute doggie.
The Super Bowl Ad WTF? Award
A super Pac supporting anti-vaxxer wacko Robert Kennedy Jr’s run for the presidency was a blatant ripoff of an ad run by his Uncle, John F. Kennedy in 1960. In fact, it appeared the spot simply interspersed RFK Jr into the original ad. The ad was campy in the 60’s, but it was crap in the 2020s. That he’s going for name association and the ad was essentially a cartoon that did nothing but repeat “Kennedy for President” will do nothing long-term for his chances. And yes, it was seen by millions of people, but so was every other ad. Hence, just like RFK Jr’s campaign, this really bad spot will be soon forgotten.
Honorable Mention: For the second year in a row, The Jesus, He Gets Us ads. It may be Sunday, but Super Bowl Sunday is not the day to schlep spirituality to the masses.
The Please Just Go Away Award
The Temu ad in the first quarter was bad. The tagline, “Shop like a billionaire” was also stupid. And, the spot, which was a weird animated spot that featured a singer crooning nothing but “ooh ooh Temu” for :30 seconds at a time was just painful. What is Temu? In the ad, it came off as an app to buy cheap crap. What is it in reality? It’s an e-commerce site that sells cheap crap from China. So that was bad enough. But then the spot ran again in the second quarter. And again in the third quarter. And, just for good measure, once more during overtime (at a discount price). I never wanted to see the ad or the advertiser again after the first view of the spot. By the fourth viewing, I was wondering how much I’d need to drink to forget I ever saw the ad in the first place. Yes, a lot of people will be talking about it because it was so bad. But won’t translate to sales. Blessedly for all of us, the ad isn’t online, so we won’t have to see it again here!
Best Superfluous Use Of A Celebrity Award
This is always a tight race as there were once again far too many celebrities packed into too many ads. Aubrey Plaza appeared in her standard sullen and sardonic persona for Mtn Dew Blast. Kate McKinnon showed up to shill Hellman’s Mayonnaise. Tom Brady was in several spots. T-Mobile brought back Zach Braff and Donald Faison singing and dancing to the Flashdance theme and included Jason Momoa and Jennifer Beals. Uber Eats reunited Jennifer Aniston and David Schwimmer. But no advertiser topped M&M’s this year, who gave us a weird ad that celebrated runners-up and featured Dan Marino, Bruce Smith, Terrell Owens (none of whom ever won a Super Bowl) and, in a wacky twist, Scarlett Johansson (who has never won an Oscar). It was a lame concept and, on a day like today, nowhere near good enough to break through the noise.
Best “We’re GettingThe Band Back Together” Award
Budweiser and Bud Light used to own Super Bowl advertising. Some of the stuff the two brands did in the 90s and early aughts are some of the most memorable ads ever made. But, these days, Budweiser simply utilizes the same, formulaic heartstring-tugging ad with the Clydesdales and dogs every year. And Bud Light saw its fortunes plunge in 2023 after inflaming conservative America by having the audacity to have a transgender influencer endorse the brand. So, in 2024, Bud Light went back to the well and tried to produce a rollicking, memorable Super Bowl spot like they used to. This one featured the emergence of a wish-granting beer genie and wacky consequences ensued. But it was too quick, had too many cuts, tried too hard, and ultimately, was too ambitious. It won’t hurt Bud Light, but it won’t fix their plunging sales either.
The Super Bowl Ad Awards For The Non-Poetic Water Cooler Winner
This year, there were some truly good Super Bowl ads. That’s notable because it’s not always the case. Amidst all the explosions, yelling and clichés, a few spots rose to the top. The CeraVe spot featuring Michael Cera as the alleged inventor of CeraVe was amusing. Dunkin’ Donuts killed in bringing back Ben Affleck, Jennifer Lopez while including Matt Damon, Tom Brady and others (Damon modifying his famous Goodwill Hunting line to “How do ya like them donuts” was inspired). BMW’s ad featuring Christopher Walken was great as well. But I thought State Farm’s ” Like A Good Neighbaa” with Arnold Schwarzenegger was the best and funniest ad of the night. Nicely paced (a rarity among many ads this year) with a punchline and tagline that, though repeated, didn’t get old, the spot just worked and stood out among the current trend of trying-too-hard-to-be-memorable Super Bowl ads. That it ran early in the game and then again during overtime will also help the memorability factor on Monday morning.
So, there ya’ go… my Super Bowl Ad Awards for 2024. Some good, some bad, some creative, some cliché. Feel free to leave your thoughts, picks, pans, favorites, and failures in the comments. And, until then, when does the 2024 football season start?