The Super Bowl Ad Axiom

Harry Lang
2 min readFeb 12, 2024

As usual, there’s much teeth gnashing about the woeful quality of this year’s Super Bowl ads. Which is fair, as most of them sucked. But why anyone would imagine this festival of brand ego could output anything other than twee platitudes is the real surprise.

Super Bowl rarely achieve the nirvana of Awe X Effectiveness, and LVIII was no different.

Here’s a couple of reasons why:-

🏈 It’s the world’s biggest ad spot — only the biggest brands can stomach $7 mil for a half minute. So creative tends to be run through more committees than is ever healthy for game changing ad creative. A turgid soup of compromise is all that remains of any concept after a 12 month simmer in the corporate oven.

🏈 The risk of differentiation is terrifying — jobs — nay careers — are on the line. Who wants to produce a 1984-like ad when the safe haven of celebrity/ patriotism/ tweeness/ Memes is freely available?

🏈 Mass Market Meltdown — Last year, over 115 Million people watched the Superbowl. Add a dose of TayTay and this year will smash the record, meaning only mass market brands can justify the ad spend (without swallowing extraordinary wastage). When you’re trying to appeal to literally everybody, chances are you’re gonna delight nobody.

The CeraVe ad with Michael Cera poked it’s head above the parapet yesterday, but everyone else followed the formula, leaving the ad breaks bereft as a result.

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Harry Lang

I'm a UK based CMO and author of 'Brands, Bandwagons & Bullshit' - a guidebook for young people about how marketing, advertising, media and PR work.