On Sunday night, nearly 100 million people watched the annual US advertising showcase, whilst some team called the Kansas City Chiefs won a game of American Football.

It was of course The Super Bowl. Now in its 54th year and with an ever-growing fan base here in the UK, the tradition of brands going big continued, with this year’s bunch paying upwards of $5.6m (£4.27m) for a 30 second spot.

Most of us at Goodstuff either stayed up or streamed the game the day after, so here’s our pick of the crop, alongside three key observations from this year’s spectacle:

 

#1. The stars still shine brightly 

Glitzy, blockbuster, blow the budget ads are what the Super Bowl ads are best known for, and this year certainly didn’t disappoint. Most of the best star-studded ads used their top talent for their craft skills or played into their ability to deliver a cultural connection through who they are or how we know them, rather than relying on their star power alone.

The best amongst these included the Hyundai Sonata ad which pokes fun at the distinctive Boston accent and dialect, featuring a whole host of stars. Jeep managing to prize a famously ad-allergic Bill Murray to reprise his Groundhog Day role for an ad that went out on Groundhog Day itself.

Sabra broke the mould and the record, for cramming 19 celebs into their 60 second ad, casting the net beyond film, TV and music to include some of the biggest US influencers and online stars. Not only this, they broke a record by being the first brand to feature drag queens in a Super Bowl Ad. Dodgy hashtag (#HowIMus), but catchy ad.

Other notable performances were seen from Bryan Cranston (Mountain Dew), Ellen DeGeneres (Amazon), Winona Ryder (Square Space) and even Rick & Morty (Pringles).

 

#2. Light entertainment trumped campaigning

Similar to last year, there’s been a slight shift away from brands making strong political and social statements, particularly in comparison to the stand we saw during Trump’s first term. The exception to this being the NFL’s Inspire Change ad. Even Budweiser tried a more uplifting and patriotic approach in tackling the term ‘Typical American,’ despite using images of the Charlotte protest.

There were of course political ads in themselves with both the Trump and Bloomberg election campaigns running in their own ad breaks, and gender equality advocacy from Olay and Microsoft.

By and large a light-hearted entertainment approach was favoured by most brands this year, possibly playing into the context and mood of the occasion, possibly from potential backlash.

The best amongst the brands opting for humour would include Doritos and Cheetos. Both used music and popular culture to their advantage, with Doritos casting Lil Nas X and featuring ‘that dance’ from TikTok and Cheetos wearing some nostalgia into product truth with help from MC Hammer.

 

#3. There’s a gap for more media creativity 

Call us biased but we see huge potential in more brands going beyond the big break. This isn’t to say ditch the TV spot, but instead, add to it, use it to start the journey that other platforms might continue, after all the Super Bowl experience isn’t just confined to one big screen or just to one day.

Amongst the brands that did use more media to their advantage were Planters; who whipped up social media into a frenzy by killing their beloved mascot prior to the Super Bowl, then used their spot to give birth to new mascot, Baby Nut, with the social campaign still on going. Olay used their Super Bowl spot to kick off a fundraising extravaganza for more women in STEM careers, with a live $1 per tweet campaign that raised over $500,000 for Girls Who Code.

A few brands even ditched the costly airtime all together, notably Honda and Mint Mobile. The former turned entirely to social to fuel the ‘Superb Owl’, a trend born last year. Whilst the latter made a point about a change in strategy under its new owner, Ryan Reynolds, favouring a full-page ad in the New York Times and passing the difference in cost to customers, through a time targeted offer running during the game.