Super Bowl LVIII Ad Anticipation: It’s All About Entertainment!

Best practices for Super Bowl advertisingThis year’s Super Bowl LVIII will be held in Las Vegas on February 11 between two teams, that according to a number of online memes hardly anybody except fans in their states want to win. I’d have to agree. Unless my team (Green Bay Packers) is in the Super Bowl, I really don’t have much interest in the game.

I do, though, have a lot of interest in the commercials!

I taught advertising copy and design for a number of years at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire and one of the things I emphasized frequently with students was that ads should not be designed solely with the intent to entertain. Super Bowl ads might be an exception to that.

The Super Bowl really serves as a platform for creative and clever advertising. It’s what viewers are looking for. And, because viewers are so diverse and the audience is so large, ads that appeal to the masses (think cars, beer, food) tend to dominate the show.

This year, some of the most-anticipated ads are:

These ads are designed to get to the first step of the AIDA (attention, interest, desire, action) model. Attention. The best ones do that. What they may or may not do, though, is generate interest in and desire for the product and, what advertisers are ultimately looking for, action.

Still, I like millions of others, will watch the Super Bowl, and the ads this year, hoping to be entertained. I’ll also be looking for the ads that go beyond entertainment to hit all aspects of the AIDA model.

Last year, the best ads were generally considered to be:

  • Heineken’s commercial featuring a non-alcoholic product and a $10 million jackpot and featuring Paul Rudd’s Ant-Man character.
  • Sam Adams “Brighter Boston” ad which was well-received for its humor and positivity.
  • Uber’s “One Hit” commercial which also stood out for humor and entertainment value.

So, yes, entertainment works in Super Bowl ads, as does nostalgia and feel-good spots. What doesn’t?

Well, in 2023, the ads deemed not so great were:

  • T-Mobile’s “New Year, New Neighbor” ad which was described as the weirdest use of a celebrity, John Travolta.
  • Rakuten’s “Not-so-Clueless” and Uber One’s “One,” both which were criticized for their use of nostalgia and lack of impact. (Note, though, that some put Uber’s ad on their “best of” lists…)
  • Pepsi’s “Great Acting or Great Taste?” ad; critics said that the teaser spots for the ad were better than the actual commercial.

Even the worst ads generate buzz, though. Again, if you’re going for attention, that’s not bad. If you’re going for sales, though…

Which ads from past Super Bowls have you found to be most entertaining? Did they prompt you to become a customer? Why/why not?


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