February 23, 2024

Understanding Brand Strategy Via 2024 Super Bowl Ads


Every year, marketers and advertisers look to the Super Bowl as a proving ground for brand strategy. As these highly anticipated ads go head to head for consumer attention, brands must find a way to make their spot resonate, with some sticking to their tried-and-true methods and others ditching the formula entirely. Let’s kick things off and dive into some of the strategic insights of this year’s Super Bowl ads.

Understand the Playing Field

Whether it’s driving brand awareness, boosting sales, or advocating for a social cause, a clear brand purpose typically guides the creation of your ads. However, Super Bowl ads are often far from traditional. They have infinitely more eyes on them during the creative process and more rounds of review, internally and externally.

Additionally, the competitive spirit of the game often extends into our coveted commercial breaks. Everyone is fighting to be #1 in the following week’s “Best Super Bowl Ads of 20whatever” list. This mentality can lead to brands sidelining authenticity in favor of generating a viral moment for possible short-term gain.

But it’s not impossible to have both. A solid foundation in brand strategy ensures that you can articulate your mission and stand out from the crowd on game night.

Hellmann’s 30-second spot, “Mayo Cat,” is a great example.

Hellmann’s ad brings to life the brand’s Make Taste Not Waste platform, encouraging viewers to get creative in the kitchen and help fight against food waste by using leftover ingredients paired with Hellmann’s mayonnaise. By leveraging popular and relevant celebrities from this past year, plus an adorable “talking” cat, Hellman’s ensured you wouldn’t be able to watch the ad and not get the message. Plus, you probably had the “mayo” meow stuck in your head after watching.

Think Outside the Bowl

Ads have the power to reinforce your identity, shaping how consumers perceive and interact with your brand, and the Super Bowl certainly delivers the audience. But when every commercial you’re competing against is larger than life, some ideas need to be bigger than a 30-second TV spot.

So why not begin the campaign early with creative activations?

CeraVe’s recent campaign with Michael Cera was quirky, clever, and one of the most popular ads from the 2024 Super Bowl.

Part of what made this ad great was the lead-up to the Big Game. CeraVe started with a three-week omnichannel campaign that included influencer unboxings and paparazzi shoots. This had consumers engaged both before and after Super Bowl Sunday and used multiple touchpoints rather than a singular TV spot, which cast the net for a wider audience.

Additionally, using a popular male celebrity as a skincare spokesperson helps reach a still relatively untapped market for skincare and beauty: men.

They Got WHO?

Featuring a celebrity in your ad is a good way to get more eyes on it, but it’s important to keep in mind brand authenticity. A celeb for celeb’s sake is fine, but you can strengthen your ad through strategic casting choices that tie into a broader, on-brand strategy.

The Michael CeraVe ad is a great example, but Dunkin’s partnership with Ben Affleck goes beyond your average play on words.

Ben Affleck grew up in Massachusetts, the home of Dunkin’, and was previously meme’d when caught fumbling his Dunkin’ order in 2020.

Ben Affleck dropping Dunkin' Donuts munchkins and drinks.

His organic connection to the brand led to Dunkin’s 2023 Super Bowl ad, featuring Ben Affleck running the fast food chain’s drive-thru. He returned in 2024 to reprise his role as Dunkin’s favorite spokesperson, bringing along his childhood friend Matt Damon and his wife JLo, who also featured in the 2023 commercial.

Affleck’s loyalty to the brand and the continuing storyline Dunkin’ has crafted, demonstrates an authentic partnership that allows the brand to stand out and not be overshadowed by big names.

Take it to Heart

Brands have a habit of playing up the humor in their Super Bowl commercials, but coming from a place of sincerity can be especially powerful. Connecting with viewers emotionally is hard enough, but if you can pull it off and simultaneously convey your brand purpose, you can create a lasting impression on consumers.

This year’s Google ad, Javier in Frame, follows a man who is visually impaired as he uses Google’s “Guided Frame.” This AI-powered accessibility feature for the Pixel camera uses a combination of audio cues, high-contrast animations, and tactile vibrations. By using “Guided Frame” to snap heartwarming pictures of the people and places in his life, Javier tells a love story that can’t help but make you smile.

Not only does the ad speak to an emotional experience, but it also reinforces Google’s brand promise to make its products and technology accessible for everyone. Even better, Google didn’t limit this promise to on-screen talent, as the director of this spot, Adam Morse, lost his sight when he was 19.

Consistency is Key

When brand messaging lacks consistency, campaigns tend to feel very disjointed. Successful brands ensure their advertising fits seamlessly with their identity, integrating familiar themes, visuals, and messaging. Without consistent elements, you lose brand recognition and trust, which are crucial to forming consumer relationships.

No one delivers dependability quite like Budweiser. They are a surefire presence in every year’s Super Bowl ad lineup. When they break out their famed Clydesdales, it’s hard not to get thirsty for a cold one right then and there.

Budweiser’s consistent formula has built trust with consumers, allowing them to be a fan favorite spot through the years.

Extra Points

Brand strategy lives in almost every advertisement, but these Super Bowl commercials are rich examples of what drives a successful campaign. When you tap into the insights behind ads like these, you can elevate your creative work until you find yourself at the top of next year’s “Best Super Bowl Ads” list.

Interested in unlocking the power of brand strategy and its impact on consumer perceptions and behaviors? Let us show you how! Contact us at info@fablebranding.com.