Google Pixel was the big winner in Super Bowl ads for the second year in a row with its ‘Javier in Frame’ spot according to the 20th Kellogg School Super Bowl Advertising Review. The Kellogg School is the business school at Northwestern University.
Other brands that earned top marks for their expensive Super Bowl ads included Mountain Dew’s ‘Having A Blast’ and Dove’s ‘Hard Knocks.’ Not all advertisers had a winning night, including Homes.com, Temu and Squarespace, which received low grades during this year’s Ad Review.
“Google Pixel has clearly figured out the formula to success for advertising in the Super Bowl,” said Derek Rucker, the Sandy & Morton Goldman professor of entrepreneurial studies in marketing and co-lead of the school’s Ad Review. “Once again the company was able to demonstrate a new technology that enhances the user experience, while also connecting with viewers in an unexpected, emotional way.”
Overall, the panel saw many brands lead with relatable creative, a remarkably carefree tonality and a focus on comedic relief. However, some brands fumbled a huge opportunity and a multi-million-dollar investment, like Homes.com, which aired three spots over the game and failed to deliver a compelling benefit resulting in a low rating from the Kellogg panel.
Among the favorite ads was Dove, returning to the Super Bowl this year after breaking an 18-year hiatus last year. The brand continued to impress the panel by showing strong linkage to the brand’s purpose and impact, bringing awareness to the Dove Self-Esteem Project and body confidence. Another favorite was CeraVe, which featured actor Michael Cera and a unique play on his surname’s similarity to the name of the skincare line — showcasing how a celebrity appearance can be impactful without overshadowing the product benefit.
“It was a great year for advertising, and we saw very few brands miss the mark. Spots attracted attention with strong linkage, solid branding and utilized ‘celebrity wow’.” said Tim Calkins, clinical professor of marketing and co-lead of the school’s Ad Review.
That “celebrity wow” came in handy for several brands, as they relied on familiar faces to deliver their messages, with the likes of Ben Affleck, Matt Damon and Jennifer Lopez (Dunkin’), Beyoncé (Verizon) and Ice Spice (Starry) appearing as themselves, while ads from the likes of Booking.com, T-Mobile and Mountain Dew paired together costars from television shows 30 Rock, Suits and Parks and Recreation, respectively.
Several candy and snack brands made appearances tonight, including Reese’s, Oreos, Doritos and Ferrara’s Nerds, the latter of which made its first-ever Super Bowl appearance spotlighting the Nerds Gummy Cluster. “These big household name brands have built such equity already that their advertising goals might not be as challenging as an emerging brand’s,” said Professor Rucker. “They’re not paying to change someone’s mind; they’re doing it to stay top of mind.”