Super Bowl LVII analysis: How to make the most of your $7m

Janine Klimko, Rhys Hillan, Katie Sweet & Kelsey Sullivan

The Super Bowl is over — and while the game itself is a distant memory, we’re still talking about the ads that caught our attention during the night. 

Which brands won the Super Bowl, and what made the great ads great? 

That’s what we set out to answer. 

We surveyed 11,250 people covering over 50 ads that aired during the big game. Let’s talk a bit about what we saw this year and what made the winners successful.

A 2023 overview

Nearly half (46%) of consumers expected the ads to be better this year, so did this year’s ads deliver on that expectation? The answer is yes, but only slightly

On average this year’s ads were more appealing (with a score of 7.2/10 compared to 7.0/10 last year) and better at driving brand consideration (6.8/10 compared to 6.6/10 last year). However they scored exactly the same as the US norm (the average of all the US ads we’ve looked at) on brand appeal and brand consideration. 

Definitely not a dramatic lift in the numbers, unfortunately.

The winners

We ranked all the ads by overall appeal (which tells us how much people liked the ad on a scale of 0-10). 

We found that the top 10 most-loved ads this year are: 

  1. The Farmer’s Dog: “Forever” — 8.5

  2. Disney:“Disney100 Special Look” — 8.3

  3. Amazon: “Saving Sawyer” — 8.2

  4. Google: “Fixed on Pixel” — 7.9

  5. He Gets Us:“Be Childlike” — 7.8

  6. Bass Pro Shops: “Bass Pro Shops and Cabela’s” — 7.8

  7. PopCorners: “Breaking Good” — 7.7

  8. Skechers:“Skechers x Snoop Dogg” — 7.7

  9. Jeep: “Electric Boogie” — 7.7

  10. T-Mobile: “New Year. New Neighbor.” — 7.6

(Click the links above for more data on each ad.)

Unsurprisingly, many of the ads on this list featured celebrities (Google, PopCorners, Skechers, T-Mobile), which we’ve seen so much in recent years that it feels like having at least one celebrity is table stakes for a breakthrough Super Bowl ad! And many ads, like PopCorners and T-Mobile, referenced popular TV and movies (Breaking Bad and Grease) to resonate with audiences.

But interestingly, the highest ranking ads this year deviated from the traditional route of creating the celebrity-studded spectacle we’re used to seeing at the big game. The Farmer’s Dog, Amazon and He Gets Us delivered quieter ads that evoke feelings of love and connection. And Bass Pro Shops gave us another earnest, celebrity-free ad that reminds us of the wonderful feeling of being outdoors

While we certainly saw many loud, humorous ads featuring multiple celebrities this year (and we don’t expect that approach to go away any time soon), it’s interesting to see some of these more emotional ads take the winning spots

After years of Super Bowl ads getting bigger and bigger in the fight for audience attention, we may be seeing a shift in what’s breaking through. You don’t expect to get a story that tugs at your heartstrings at the Super Bowl, and that might be exactly why some of these ads won.  

While everyone is zigging, it’s the brands that zag that get noticed. 

Other ads worth mentioning

While it didn’t top the list this year and maybe wasn’t as effective as it could have been, Tubi’s “Interface Interruption” was interesting because it pranked audiences by making them think they sat on their remotes or that one of their children had stolen it. It generated some buzz and was certainly an unexpected addition to the Super Bowl ad break. We like that it fits nicely within the context of the Super Bowl and caught everyone off-guard — highlighting the brand's playful and quirky personality.

And while not a Super Bowl advertiser this year, Heinz leaned into the fact that “57” is a part of its brand and this was the 57th Super Bowl with an integrated campaign leading up to the game. The brand reminded us that “LVII” means 57, and that most of us aren’t great at reading roman numerals! Its digital ad on YouTube scored in the top 5% of our ad database.

We like this campaign because the brand not only leveraged the Super Bowl to create a break-through campaign, it also stayed consistent with previous advertising and used its distinctive brand asset — the iconic Heinz bottle.  

As one consumer said: "I absolutely adored the humor of it! I was laughing out loud. These people made great points."

Finally, we have to comment on the movie trailers this year. We looked at each of the trailers that aired in the big game, but ultimately removed them from our ranking as they’re quite different from the brand ads. But it’s worth noting that three of them would have been on the list of the top 10 most-loved ads this year. 

And this makes sense, given that these are Hollywood productions with big budgets, big celebrities and a fleshed-out storyline — most of which are based on long-running franchises we all know and love (such as Marvel, Indiana Jones, etc.). And even though we removed them from our rankings, brands were still competing against them for audience attention during the game.

With this in mind, some brands did opt to tie in with movies to stand out. Heineken promoted its zero alcohol in an ad that featured Marvel’s Ant Man. And it still made an impression even though it didn’t top the list as a most-loved ad. One consumer noted: “Funny, uses a well-known character and sets up this comedy and twist that takes place."

Finally, Nike made a big splash by being featured in the trailer for the movie AIR — a movie starring iconic duo Ben Affleck and Matt Damon that tells the origin story of the Air Jordan sneaker. Audiences are excited by the movie — plus it promises to be one long advertisement for the Nike brand!

The ingredients of a winning Super Bowl ad

While the most-loved ads delivered something a little unexpected this year, there are still a number of key ingredients that many of the top Super Bowl ads share.

Those ingredients are emotion, entertainment or uniqueness to grab people's attention or draw them in, plus a solid connection to the brand.

Report: State of Creative Effectiveness

Want more content on how to create better ads? Download our State of Creative effectiveness report.

Emotion: Make people feel to make them remember

The feeling of love, riding through ups and downs, and the overall emotional journey storytelling takes us on still wins the day when it comes to great advertising — even at the Super Bowl! There’s just something about an ad that makes people feel something.  

This year, many of the top 10 Super Bowl ads made consumers happy and elicited significantly more feelings of love. Twice as much as an average ad and three times more than last year's Super Bowl ads, in fact!

This chart shows the amount of the love emotion elicited through each of the top 10 ads.

Three of the ads in the top 10 (The Farmer’s Dog, Disney and Amazon) pulled at consumers heartstrings particularly well, which helped them stand out from the traditionally lighthearted, comedic Super Bowl ads. 

Consumers found the ad by The Farmer’s Dog, which scored the highest on love, particularly relatable — reminding us of the role our pets play in our daily lives and why it's important to care for them like a member of the family. It resonated so strongly with people that some even mentioned how it made them cry!

Here’s what some respondents had to share:

"I liked the story, visuals, settings, the personality and adventure of the young girl. I like how they age as the commercial goes on. This was a relatable and peaceful expression of how a loving and cherishing bond between owners and pets can become."

"I like how it tries to hit you with the feels to get you to connect with the brand. So you can say wow this ad understands me. I also have a dog that’s been with me forever."

Disney, Amazon and even the controversial He Gets Us ad also used powerful storytelling to take people on an emotional journey — tapping into the universally held values of love, togetherness and compassion. Universal themes are particularly important when addressing such a broad audience as the one at the Super Bowl. 

Here’s what some respondents had to share:

  • Disney: "The emotion of the ad brings back many memories over the years."

  • Amazon: "Everyone loves animals to a degree, and this ad played with the heartstrings from the dogs perspective."

  • He Gets Us: "I liked that it was trying to show the good in people."

With four out of the five top ads falling into this emotional category, it appears that the tide may have shifted this year. Consumers were more drawn to and affected by the ads that made them feel something — proving that love may truly be what wins after all

Entertainment: You’re part of the show!

For years people would look forward to ads shown during the Super Bowl, knowing they would be entertained. Even though emotion seemed to be the lead play this year, entertainment was the second largest driver of overall appeal for consumers. 

While “entertaining” doesn’t always mean “funny,” humor has a strong ability to grab attention and entertain. Since brands seem to be using less of it these days, it was great to see the humor featured in other well-loved Super Bowl ads this year.

PopCorners, T-Mobileand Google Pixel delivered on entertainment (and humor) particularly well this year, making people laugh three times more than an average ad (see chart below). 

This chart shows the amount of the laughter emotion elicited through each of the top 10 ads.

All three of these ads also had the help of celebrities from favorite TV shows and movies, including the likes of Amy Schumer, John Travolta and the unforgettable Breaking Bad duo Jesse Pinkman and Mr. White — all of whom have done a fantastic job at entertaining viewers with their work already.  

Here’s what some respondents had to share:

  • PopCorners: "The satire was engaging and funny with little jabs thrown in for breaking bad fans like me"

  • T-Mobile: "It was funny and entertaining all the way through" "I liked the humor of them singing about internet to the grease song"

  • Google Pixel: "[I liked] The sentimental initial feeling then turning that on its head in a funny, energetic way"

In the end, there’s just something about having a good laugh and being entertained by celebrities or bits from your favorite shows and movies. This still rings true for this year’s big game, perhaps a combination of the desire to be entertained and the nostalgia of what a traditional Super Bowl ad is expected to deliver.

Uniqueness: Be different to stand out  

There are a lot of eyes on the Super Bowl, and they all expect greatness from the ads they watch. 

We found in a recent survey that 70% of consumers look forward to ads at the Super Bowl more than ads at other times of the year, and 71% say that the commercials are important to the Super Bowl experience. 

Super Bowl ads are generally more unique and are more likely to be talked about and shared. That means your ad is competing with particularly “out there” ads. To stand out, you have to produce something more unique than the rest of the pack. 

And we see that with our top 10 ads — each of them scores significantly higher on uniqueness than an average US ad. And most of them also outperform their Super Bowl 2023 peers.

Ratings are based on a 0-10 scale for the question “How unique and different was the ad?"

While the four ads that top the list above (Disney, The Farmer’s Dog, Amazon and He Gets Us) stood out because they tugged people’s heartstrings, Google Pixel, Jeep and PopCorners stood out thanks to their formats and entertainment value.

Some consumers commented: 

  • Disney: "This ad takes you on a creative Disney ride."

  • Jeep: “[I liked] everything, it was attention grabbing, it was funny and colorful."

  • PopCorners: "I thought the ad was very funny and a definite attention getter."

Branding: Your brand is the star

After the high price you’ve paid to have your ad shown in the Super Bowl, it’s critical that your ad is clearly tied to your brand. You want consumers to say “that PopCorners ad was so funny!” and not “that Breaking Bad ad was my favorite.” If they don’t know that the ad was for your brand, it wasn’t a good use of your money.

This year’s top 10 brands managed to create ads that fit with their brands pretty well — with all of them landing above the norm. Disney, Bass Pro Shops, The Farmer’s Dog and Google Pixel led the pack. This is great to see because we’ve seen that on average, Super Bowl ads struggle to make this brand connection more than advertising at other times of the year.

Based on a 0-10 scale for the questions “How well does that ad fit with your impression of the brand?”

To make sure your brand plays a key role in your Super Bowl ad, it’s critical to stay authentic to your brand and use stories and collaborations that support the brand story. That could be links to movies, celebrities or other brands — as long as the connection is authentic, makes sense to consumers and is clearly dramatized as part of the ad. We saw several brands this year reference current or nostalgic TV and movies — which is a great way to get people to relate to your ad, feel a bit clever about getting the connection and feel good. 

But the best ones this year were the ones that incorporated the brand or product into the story. For example in PopCorners’ ad, Breaking Bad characters Jesse Pinkman and Walter White talk about how good PopCorners are and discuss the features of the product, as if the snack food is a drug they have produced. The PopCorners brand stayed front and center throughout — as the ad perfectly conveyed the idea that the snack food is addictive.

One consumer noted: "I liked how they used Breaking Bad as the theme for a tasty product. I think that is awesome and will be a definite crowd pleaser." 

And though PopCorners is a lesser-known snack food brand, consumers were able to recall the brand after viewing the ad.

The role of celebrities in branding

It’s always important to remember that while including celebrities in your ad is a great way to get attention, they are not your brand characters. And they are likely linked to many brands. For example, we saw Serena Williams featured in ads for two different brands at this year’s big game and Snoop Dogg and Martha Stewart were featured together in Sketcher’s ad this year, a BIC Super Bowl ad last year and a T-Mobile Super Bowl ad a few years before that. 

You have to partner with a celebrity that is right for your brand and aligns with your brand’s values, but you can’t expect a celebrity to do your branding work for you. Your brand must be as prominent as the celeb and play a clear role in the story of the ad. 

Over 70% of all the Super Bowl ads featured celebrities this year. But they didn’t play a prominent role in the most loved ads.Ads from The Farmer’s Dog, Amazon, Bass Pro ShopsandHe Gets Usdidn’t feature any celebrities. Disney naturally used celebrities from their movies, but as Disney characters are part of the Disney brand, it felt authentic and reminded audiences of the brand. Google Pixel also weaved celebrities into their brand and product story in a very natural way. 

The role of co-branding

We saw a bit of co-branding in the Super Bowl this year, especially from Netflix who produced ads with both Michelob Ultra and GM, though neither of those ads fell into the list of the most-loved ads. 

Co-branding is tricky, as people tend to struggle to remember two brands (they often struggle to remember just one!). 

If co-branding is a route you’re considering, make sure it's the right collaboration. That is, one that makes sense. Make sure you can bring it to life with a clear role for each brand in the ad. Your story and message will need to be even simpler and clearer to support two brands.

Wrapping up

We’d like to give a huge round of applause to all the brands who advertised during this year’s Super Bowl. It’s no easy feat to create a blockbuster ad, not to mention one that resonates with the majority of those watching the big game.

But if you're able to get a read of what your consumers are looking for (clearly, a lot were looking for love this year) by listening to your consumers early and often, you’ll only increase your odds of scoring a touchdown.   

For an even deeper look into what made these ads score major points this year, check out more of our learnings here.

🔍 Report: State of Creative Effectiveness

Want more content on how to create better ads? Download our State of Creative effectiveness report.

Subscribe to our monthly newsletter