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Celebs take the field in Super Bowl LVIII ad blitz

Screenshot from Dunkin’ | YouTube

Nearly 123.4 million people watched Super Bowl LVIII on Feb. 11, making the Chiefs’ win the most-watched broadcast since the Apollo 11 moon landing.

The record viewership coincided with improved results from the U.S. economy and a two-month increase in consumer sentiment, up 29% from November, the biggest two month increase in over 30 years. Consequently, the price tag for a 30-second spot was $7 million.

The majority of advertisers leveraged celebrity endorsements this year, as is usually the case, but cameos of the super-famous were extra potent.

Uber Technologies Inc. had an ad calling on viewers to remember all the things they can order on UberEats, running with the idea that “to remember something, you have to forget something else.”

Jennifer Aniston forgot her “Friends” co-star David Schwimmer; David Beckham and his wife and former “Spice Girls” member Victoria forgot the name of the ‘90s English girl group; Usher, pictured with his friends after the halftime show, says “I hope I get to play a halftime show someday, man.”

Dunkin’ Donuts LLC’s ad featured Ben Affleck, Matt Damon, Tom Brady, Jack Harlow, Jennifer Lopez and Fat Joe. The reunited Affleck and Lopez met in a 2023 Dunkin’ ad when she pulled up to a Dunkin’ drive thru with Affleck at the window — now, Affleck pulls up to her place of work, the studio, with his batch of buddies “The Dunkings.” The ad used the star-studded cast to make up for its lack of clear message.

Michael Cera’s cameo in CeraVe’s commercial was highly praised. The ad had all the over-the-top airs of a typical beauty product ad, with Cera shown giving himself a massage and asking, “Can human skin truly be this moisturized?” and talking to a dolphin, only to zoom out to him presenting it to a board of disapproving dermatologists and end with the message “CeraVe is developed with dermatologists. Not Michael Cera.”

“CeraVe have nailed their first Super Bowl appearance and as a massive Michael Cera fan I couldn’t be happier,” one user on X, Fraser Cottrell, said.

It was the Super Bowl of celebrities. And not just in the commercials — the stadium was packed with stars, including Beyonce, Jay-Z, Leonardo DiCaprio, Lady Gaga and Ice Spice, not to mention Taylor Swift, dating Kansas City Chiefs tight-end Travis Kelce.

According to a report from Numerator, 20% of viewers who tuned in to the 2024 Super Bowl were rooting for the Chiefs because of Kelce and Swift’s relationship.

Aware of the Taylor Swift effect, advertisers took the chance to cater to a new demographic: young women.

One of the few “serious” ads this year — besides the controversial evangelistic “He Gets Us” ads — Dove, owned by Unilever PLC, aired “It’s the Hard Knock Life” that showed a compilation of clips with young girls playing sports and wiping out, slipping and falling, but warned that low body confidence, not the “knocks,” was what’s keeping girls from playing sports. It featured a statistic that read “45% of girls quit sports by age 14” and ended with the message “Let’s #KeepHerConfident.”

While heavier Super Bowl spots face the challenges that come with airing between often fanciful or overtly ridiculous ads, Dove and the New York-based ad agency Ogilvy & Mather Worldwide Inc. not only leveraged the easygoing assemblage of wipeouts, set to the tune of “It’s the Hard-Knock Life” from “Annie,” but also the changeup: when the song fades out and catches the viewer unaware enough to pay attention as it broaches the serious topic of adolescent body image.

Kia Motors Corp.’s ad “Perfect 10” was more touching. After a father applauds a young ice-skater at her performance, sitting next to an empty seat, they take their 2024 Kia EV9 to a remote cabin in the woods. The headlights sweep through the cabin’s interior and over a wheelchair-bound grandpa just before the father hooks up the electric vehicle to a string of lights arranged around a frozen pond so she can show him her routine. 

The firm David&Goliath made the strategic bet that emotional appeal would do better to show off the new Kia’s capabilities — but Doordash Inc. made a bigger one.

Its 30-second spot announced a new sweepstakes that required viewers to enter a promo code online. With prizes from every retailer that aired an ad during Super Bowl LVIII, the “All the Ads” ad had a narrator zip through an impossibly long promo code as the code’s text bent and warped through a house filled with Doordash bags.

The play would undoubtedly turn most viewers away, but a choice few accepted the challenge. According to X user Tessa Mero, the correct code clocked in at 1,813 characters. 

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Judah Duke, Business Editor
Judah Duke is the Business Editor of the Ticker.
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