The Big Game Marketing Trends We Forecasted — and What Actually Scored
Posted By Celena Fine on February 12, 2024
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With brands spending $7 million for a 30-second Super Bowl ad, we were on the edge of our seats awaiting this year’s best and brightest television advertisements. But we also had a pretty good idea of what to look for — with that much money on the line, brands usually stick to the trends and behaviors that are already popular. We made a Big Game Bingo card to play as the 2024 Super Bowl ads aired, and here’s how we did.
Playing by the Rules
We designated any and all things Taylor Swift as our free space (or Blank Space for the Swifties), as all eyes have been on the pop star this season. We started our game at kickoff and stopped at the end of regulation — did you know most of the ads that air in overtimeare just existing spots that already ran during the game?
Based on our existing trend analysis, we created a bingo-card forecast of what
we expected might be featured in this year's Super Bowl ads.
The Road to Bingo
We were eager to see how quickly our card could score a true bingo, and it took less than an hour to mark off the middle column of our card.
Dove’s ad shining a light on girl athletes’ struggles with body image was our first step toward bingo, marking off our “women athletes” square. We thought this was a welcome return for Dove after 18 years away from their Super Bowl advertising.
This girl-focused feature and the Ariana Grande-centered trailer for “Wicked” added up to a tick in the “female dollar” square. (Emphasized further by the pre-game menopause medication ad and the e.l.f. cosmetics spot later.) This trend has extended past this summer’s Barbie-driven fervor, and we’re excited to keep an eye on its development.
Super Bowl ads often have long-running storylines, and multiple ads extended the plots they had established in 2023 in this year’s campaigns. We thought Dunkin’s was a smart extension of their 2023 ad featuring Ben Afleck working at a Dunkin drive-thru — and, arguably, the Dunkings were giving a certain “I’m Just Ken” mojo dojo casa house vibe that we could call Ken-adjacent.
Finally, Michael Cera’s CeraVe ad was exactly the kind of celebrity stunt we were expecting to see extended into a big-game campaign. The actor was previously seen signing bottles of the moisturizer, creating buzz — and confusion — about his connection with the brand. Props to CeraVe for spinning a celebrity stunt into a truly funny, multi-platform campaign.
CeraVe’s website features a banner ad leading to a landing page for the campaign, which also includes this
clever pop-up encouraging newsletter signups.
And with that, we had our first and only bingo of the game! We successfully marked a number of other squares, notably:
- Beyoncé generously helped us hit both the AI and Barbie squares with BeyoncAI and BarBey — all while teasing a new country music album.
- M&M’s started things off strong as our very first mark, of course for the candy square. Nerds Gummy Clusters and Lindt chocolate rounded out the candy category.
- Ads for second-tier streaming services (namely, the ones that aren't HBO, Netflix, or Hulu) were unavoidable, with CBS and Paramount Global using over seven minutes of airtime for Paramount Plus promotion. They had a great opportunity to elevate their content onto advertising’s biggest stage without needing to spend for those spots.
- The return of the beloved Budweiser Clydesdales showed that beer might be returning to its roots (we’d call Michelob’s feature of soccer superstar Lionel Messi pretty non-controversial, too).
Some Super Surprises
We only ticked off two sports betting ads during the game itself, which came as a surprise considering how prevalent the ads are during the regular season. It’s worth noting that the NFL self-imposes a limit of six sport-betting spots per game, so it’s possible they kept the ads to a minimum during a time when so many eyes were on the league.
Duolingo’s five-second interlude was a surprise, and a cheeky one at that. The company riffing on their love-to-hate mascot Duo’s persistent reminders to practice your language learning was quick, to-the-point, and refreshingly celebrity-free.
Nostalgia was certainly going to make several big-game appearances (so much so we didn’t bother to include it on our card), but some brands really nailed the tone. We loved Volkswagen’s emotional ad spotlighting the car maker’s legacy.
VW was smart to highlight not just their cars, but also their iconic advertising and
deep cultural influence.
Many of us were reminded of our own memories with VW’s automotives — which we consider an advertising job well done.
Another Year Wiser
And with that, another Super Bowl is in the history books. And while the sports commentators debate whether this is the beginning of a Chiefs dynasty, we’re keeping a close eye on how ads are responding to ever-changing cultural trends.
Want to know how these trends connect with your business? Learn more.