The Best and Worst Ads From The 2024 Super Bowl

Thor Benander
Thor Benander is the Editor-in-Chief of The Antagonist and a father of four. He’s a lover of ancient history, Greek food, and sports. He loves to travel and thinks that if libraries were the center of American society, many things would improve overnight. You can hit him up at hilordcastleton@gmail.com.

Well, the NFL season is over and it’s a good thing I’m not a betting man because I would have bet my house on the Niners and bet my soul on the Ravens before them, so yeah. I have lots of thoughts about the actual football, but I’ll save them for the dorks I hang out with. Let’s just get to the ads!

It was dry as helllllllll to start the Super Bowl ad-wise and I kept wondering if Madison Avenue had lost its way. By halftime there was only one or two decent ads, while the rest seemed to be satisfied with low-effort, no-story cameos from celebrities with either tangential or anecdotal relationships to the brands. Weird. Who thinks that works? You still have to be memorable and have a take. Fucking kids these days! Get off my lawn! Make better ads!

THE BEST ADS

That said, we ended up with a smattering of decent ads. My favorite usually involves some form of comedy, but this year’s best ad was just about a shocking stat (not so shocking when you start to roll it over in your mind) and an appeal for a better future. Great job here from Dove to actually say something.

Hard Knocks: A Dove Big Game Film | #KeepHerConfident

REESE’S Cups Big Game Commercial 2024 | Yes! :30

This ad for Reeses didn’t need celebrities (except for the voice of Will Arnett, I think). It didn’t need huge sets or fancy gimmicks. It just plain worked. In a year when so many ads missed, it made this one stand out even more.

Dunkin’ ‘The DunKings’ ft Ben Affleck, Matt Damon, Tom Brady, Jack Harlow, Jennifer Lopez, & Fat Joe

As a Boston guy, anyone who knows me will tell you how much I hate that our city’s reputation is build around one neighborhood that barely exists anymore. I also hate that we have a few “Boston Guys” actors as the perennial spokesmen for our city and region. For example, Mark Wahlberg is a pile of manure.

Then there’s Ben Affleck. I don’t even remotely understand the concept behind this ad campaign for Dunkin Donuts, but (like always) Matt Damon comes in to save the day. Why is Jack Harlow in it? He’s from Louisville, Kentucky. I have no idea, but as much as I mock ads for just throwing rando celebs in for some bizarro brand connection, I’ll admit that adding Harlow made my 13 year old son notice the ad, so…job well done? Matt Damon kills it at least twice and maybe thrice in this spot from Dunkin Donuts. I have no idea what the rest of it is.

Here’s the ad that started the campaign, which features TikTok uberstar Charli D’Amelio and a Ben Affleck reacting to being second fiddle to his bride? I think? It’s like watching the ravings of a madman and I have a hard time tethering to the concept.

And here’s the Super Bowl ad where Matt Damon slayed. Affleck is a lunatic but I support the self-mockery, especially him walking into the banner like an idiot. Tom Brady on keys is surreal, though your mileage on that may vary depending on where you stand on him.

Michael CeraVe – SB 2024

Michael Cera had the craziest, most intentionally cringey ad, which is what you’d expect considering it was directed by Tim & Eric. At first you’re like “is this for real?” and then when you realize that it’s just a play on his name, a la the SNL ad for SARS GUARDS from actor Peter Sarsgaard, it gets a slow clap.

There’s also a longer version, which is even better, with cheesier shit and actually has him speaking to a unicorn-dolphin in dolphin. Too bad Cerave couldn’t spring for the extra 30 seconds, but when the ads run about 7 million per 30 seconds of prime airtime, I get it.

MTN DEW | Aubrey Plaza Having a Blast Super Bowl Ad

This one isn’t groundbreaking but if you love Aubrey Plaza, and you should, this was a decent if not inspired ad. The button with Nick Offerman put it over the top for me.

The Future of Soda is Now | Poppi Super Bowl LVIII 2024 Commercial

This next one I thought was about as professional of an ad as you can make using what was once standard operating procedure for ads. It was like this was the only ad not made by someone writing it in a tent at Burning Man. It introduced the product, clearly and concisely made its pitch, and kept you visually engaged. I had no idea what this product was before the ad and now I 100% do after the ad. That’s a solid win.

Big Game Commercial 2024 | Volkswagen

The best nostalgia play came from Volkswagen, a perennial contender that knows what they’re doing. You can’t do it much better than this, ad-wise and nostalgia-wise.

This next ad paired a legend with a newcomer, and I was on the fence, but ultimately the silly nature of it contrasted with the thespian setup ended up working.

STōK Cold Brew Unleashes Sir Anthony Hopkins’ Inner Wred Dragon

HEADSCRATCHING ADS THAT MISSED

There were so many ads that thought they were better than they were. That’s such a liability in the ad business. As someone who has won a Clio for ad writing (fo realz), let me tell you, it’s so easy to get up your own ass about ads and think they’re a bullseye when they’re not even on target. What happens is you have a creative concept, then ad execs weigh in, then their bosses weigh in, then the brand reps weigh in, then the company owners weigh in and what you end up with is a fucking MESS. Visions get diluted, brand identity wanes and the message gets corrupted by too many chefs.

This happened over and over and over at this year’s Super Bowl. Notably, it was poor concepts paired with random celebs leaving no lasting brand impression. Scorcese for Squarespace in an ad where he’s in traffic because of UFO’s. Huh?

Ken Jeong in an ad for Popeye’s where him eating messily actually turned my stomach. I thought this ad actively hurt the brand.

A foolhardy nostalgia play for a barely recognizable Mr. T for Skechers that tries to pull off a campy vibe that once worked in Old Navy ads. It didn’t play at all.

Christopher Walken having everyone do his voice, but for BMW. People love Christopher Walken but hate people who drive BMWs. It was a bridge too far.

Other than fans of Scrubs, I’ll never understand the Donald Faison and Zach Braff ads. Do people not understand sellouts anymore? Is it like phrasing? Are we just done with it? Now you’re gonna suck poor Jason Mamoa into it? Ugh.

Love the sentiment of this next one. Yes! Let’s celebrate science! All day, every day! The problem is it’s from Pfizer, and let’s be honest: Fuck Pfizer.

There were a bunch of other misses, too. The Uber Eats ad had a clear concept that should have been clear and then rammed home, but for some reason it just didn’t work.

Doritos made a play for the women’s market by very quickly featuring Jenna Ortega and then making a (very well done) ad about grandmas attacking a man. Listen, all grandmas should be full of righteous indignation and a generational loathing for the world than men have shoved down their throats, but I don’t need to see them perpetrating violence. How about outwitting?

Crowdstrike had a great setup, and perfectly explained the concept, but the actor who played the Crowdstrike sheriff was either miscast or poorly outfitted or something. I think two nerds would have been much better than the bookish/attractive woman who represents the company. It could have been a winner but ended up a shoulder shrug with that anticlimactic ending. Humor would have worked better.

Quinta Brunson is a goddess. You can’t come up with funnier stuff for her to say, TurboTax? Ugh.

The conceit of this ad was really good but the execution and then big payoff didn’t land.

Ploto TV’s ad almost worked, and the concept was great, but something didn’t quite tie it all up. It started great and nailed the concept and then the air came out of it. Watch now, Pay Never is a great tag line, though.

The Worst Ads

I do not understand Ice Spice. Her SNL appearance was brutal. She seems to have the charisma of a potato. I do not understand. I don’t wish her any ill will, but what is her draw? I’m sure she appeals to someone, but I’m not 100% sure who that is.

An entire ad predicated on the way Ahhhnold pronounces R’s. OH HO HO HO HO HO! Their market testing told them that Gen X made up a huge portion of the viewing audience and so they looked to hire a Gen X icon. This is the best they could do. Sometimes simple concepts work. This didn’t at all. At least Danny DeVito almost saved it.

Kia reminds us about dead mothers. Dead mothers happen, everyone! You know how you know? Because dad likes to save a seat for a MOM WHO WILL NEVER COME TO THE BIG SHOW and then stare at it to remind his daughter that mommy is dead. But fuck it! Lets use our Kia to reverse power an outdoor rink outside grandpa’s house. He’s on house arrest from bilking millions of people out of their fortunes, but it’ll have to do since MOM IS DEAD. Who greenlit this concept? Satan? Why save a seat for her like when old people set a place at the table for Jesus? It’s lunacy.

Speaking of Jesus…

All the Jesus shit was rough. I can’t keep track of who was paying for what but there’s no faster way to piss in my cheerios (besides DEAD MOM) than to try to hit me with religion when I’m watching grown men tear each other to pieces for money. Yes, the Jesus who washed feet is the better version of Jesus. Too bad that version got away and is never coming back. Maybe Christians should have thought of that before they lashed their canoe to the most depraved candidate in American history…and that’s saying something because Andrew Johnson was a sentient ball bag.

It’s perfectly lampooned by the top post on youtube:

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