Beyoncé, Michael Cera And More Built The Biggest Brand Buzz

Super Bowl 2024 was an exciting year for advertisers with a full dose of celebrities, featuring everyone from Lionel Messi to Jennifer Aniston and Beyoncé. In addition to star power, we saw several ads allude to artificial intelligence (e.g. Google, Microsoft), some appeals to emotion (e.g. Kia, Dove) and a surprise ad for independent Presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. Some ads also made good use of influencers (e.g. Nerds, Oreos).

In the end, there were more ads than usual that effectively differentiated the brand while pleasing viewers, making this list a difficult one to crack.

In compiling this list in addition to considering whether the ad is likely to meet its objectives, multiple rankings were considered including: USA Today’s Admeter’s likeability ratings drawn from a very large sample of consumers; the ADPLAN ratings of the Kellogg School of Business MBAs, and Sprout Social’s list of the most active brands mentioned on Twitter on game day.

5) Hellmann’s – ‘Mayo Cat’

Hellman’s fourth consecutive Super Bowl ad focused on the topic of food waste is arguably its best yet. The spot features Kate McKinnon (Saturday Night Live) and introduces the very cute “Mayo Cat,” while including a cameo from Pete Davidson. In the ad, Mayo Cat helps communicate to McKinnon how to make effective use of leftovers which, naturally, includes using Hellmann’s while simultaneously reducing food waste.

Hellmann’s message a win/win/win situation for consumers, the planet (in the form of food suppliers), and the company. Parent company Unilever and the brand deserve considerable credit for consistent investment in calling attention to the the food waste issue. The ad was graded at A by the Kellogg School’s ADPLAN, scored 12th on USA Today’s Admeter and generated considerable buzz around its pre-release according to Sprout Social.

4) Uber Eats – ‘Don’t Forget Uber Eats’

A star studded line-up including Jennifer Aniston, David Schwimmer, Usher, the Beckhams and Jelly Roll is put to good use in reminding the viewer that Uber Eats delivers not only take-out food, but everything from office supplies to tissues.

Nostalgia is capitalized on with this cast of stars and Aniston forgetting her co-star Schwimmer is particularly funny. The results is an entertaining ad that is well linked to the brand message. ADPLAN’s grade for the spot was A. Admeter ranked it fourth and while the spot did not score among the top 15 on gameday in buzz according to Sprout Social, it did very well in this respect upon its early pre-release.

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3) Volkswagen – ‘An American Love Story’

Marking 75 years since Volkswagen cars became available in the United States, the German carmaker, founded in 1937, goes nostalgic in this spot showing images including the VW Minibus from the 1960 and movie images of the Beetle.

There is also a clever a nod to it’s famous “The Force” Super Bowl ad, widely regarded as one of the best of all time. In addition and image of the electric ID.Buzz minivan, slated for release in the U.S. later this year is included.

Overall, the brand effectively communicates the part it has played in U.S. pop culture for many years while raising pleasant feelings. The ad was graded A by ADPLAN, and rated 14th by Admeter. In addition, reported a 394% spike on their website in traffic following the airing of the spot.

2) Verizon – ‘Can’t B Broken’

While the theme of high capacity networks is not a new one, it has been long emphasized by Verizon and its competitors. The use of mega-star Beyoncé who employs a variety of humorous tactics to break Verizon’s network generated enormous buzz while reinforcing the product benefit.

Sprout Social rated the spot #1 in generating buzz on game night and according to data analyzed by sweepstake casino Vegas Gems, Beyoncé experienced a surge in her Instagram following, gaining an impressive 254,844 new followers. The timing of the ad being in conjunction with a new Beyoncé album announcement likely helped generate interest for both the singer and Verizon.

The Kellogg’s ADPLAN graded the ad as an A, and it scored 9th on USA Today’s Admeter.

1) CeraVe – ‘Michael CeraVe’

The CeraVe skincare ad featuring Michael Cera (Arrested Development, Barbie) is likely to do great things for brand awareness as well as create positive association about product quality. The company capitalized on a viral TikTok where a user asked where a user asked whether Cera is the mastermind behind CeraVe and sent kits to more than 400 influencers designed to fuel such speculation.

In the lead-up the the Super Bowl, Cera was seen signing bottles of the product in a pharmacy and handling out the products, among other activities including his own “unsanctioned” commercial.

The big game ad shows a boardroom of CeraVe demoatologist debunking Cera’s own campaign, noting that the “Ve” stands for MVE Technology and “Cera” refers to “ceramides,” not Michael Cera. In the end, the spot gets across a message about the product’s quality while incorporating unique humor. The ad was graded “A” by the Kellogg School MBAs, ranked 15th in USA Today’s Admeter, and generated the 7th most buzz immediately after the game according to Sprout Social.

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Honorable Mention

In a year with many effective ads, some others that deserves special mention are:

  • Google’s ad that shows a visually impaired person being able to use artificial intelligence features of the product to take pictures.
  • Kawasaki for invoking the ever controversial mullet hairstyle while reinforcing a point about the ruggedness and excitement about its product.
  • Doritos’ ad for Dinamita featuring Jenna Ortega and older brand characters Dina and Mita.
  • Dove’s ad focusing on female body image.
  • Budweiser and Bud Light for going back to the essence of the brands after a period of controversy.
  • Poppi for breaking through the clutter and getting across its message that it is a healthy soda even if it was not the most likeable ad (#45 on Admeter).

Corrected, Feb. 12: An earlier version of this article incorrectly stated the number of years since Volkswagen’s founding. The carmaker was founded in Germany in 1937 and will mark its 87th anniversary in May, not its 75th anniversary. The company’s vehicles became available in the United States in 1949 — 75 years ago.

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