SUPER BOWL AD REVIEW 2023
Hellmann’s Hamm & Brie are a winning combo; Rakuten is Clueless
Heading into the big weekend and for the third year in a row, we decided to look at this season’s early-released Super Bowl ads.
Among the 12 ads that we tested, Hellmann’s, Bud Light, and Popcorners’ Breaking Bad-themed commercial were this year’s top contenders. On the flipside, despite packing major star power with a cameo from NBA legend Kevin Garnett, Alicia Silverstone’s reprisal of her iconic character Cher and appearances by musicians Paul Stanley, Gary Clark Jr., and Ozzy Osbourne, Sam Adams’ Boston-inspired ad, Workday’s Rock N’ Roll themed ad and Rakuten’s Clueless ad rounded out the bottom three.
For the last two years, our testing shows that Generation Z remains hard to please when it comes to traditional advertising. And while Boomers did express comparatively higher ratings in sync with other groups at engaging moments such as the conclusion of Miles Teller’s dance-off with his wife during the top-rated Bud Light ad and when Pete Davidson appeared on the Hellmann’s ad, this year’s early-release ads seemed to leave Boomers out — with Boomers rating the ads significantly below all other tested generations.
Q: Overall, how would you rate this commercial? (One of the best or Good)
This was the year of celebrity brand endorsers / influencers — so many — too many — in far too many commercials. Mercury tests celebrities for numerous companies to help identify those who fit with a brand, are appropriate for a brand, and ultimately drive interest and other KPIs. Unfortunately, in so many of this year’s big game commercials, the celebrities had little to no recognizable connection with the brand or the product category represented. Too many companies rushed to present well-known, expensive brand ambassadors without considering whether the celebrities had a connection with the brand and its attributes.
Rank 1: Hellmann’s | Who’s in the Fridge?
HAMM & BRIE: Mmmm mmmm good
Actors Jon Hamm, Brie Larson and Pete Davidson are featured in the ad and ratings peaked when Davidson opened up a refrigerator to find miniature versions of Hamm and Larson walking around the top shelf alongside leftovers.
Hellmann’s nailed it with their ode to mayonnaise. Both Gen Y and Z loved the condiment-themed content.
Rank 2: Popcorners | Breaking Bad
Basic Ingredients for a Hit
Even though 10 years have passed since the series finale for Breaking Bad aired, the TV show still created high levels of engagement across the audience segments we tested. The ad, which sees Bryan Cranston and Aaron Paul reprising their iconic characters, even captivated Baby Boomers who were this year’s hardest-to-reach audience.
All groups increased their rating when Tuco Salamanca (Raymond Cruz), the show’s main antagonist in its early seasons, appeared on the screen to test Walter and Jesse’s “product” Popcorners.
Rank 3: BUDLIGHT Hold Jams
Dancing it out with a cold one
While Commander Metcalf a.k.a. Viper famously stated, “There are no points for second place” in the iconic 1986 movie Top Gun, we’re pretty sure this Bud Light ad’s position near the top makes it a winner.
The ad, which features Top Gun: Maverick star Miles Teller and his wife Keleigh Sperry was a hit with Gen X, Y and Z with Gen Y rating it the highest across groups.
The ad features the song “Opus No. 1” by Tim Carleton and Darrick Deel, which is known for being influential to the development of “Hold Music,” a genre designed to fill the silence heard by callers when they are placed on hold.
Rank 10: Sam Adams | Your Cousin’s Brighter Boston
Brighter Boston: In Your Dreams, Genius
Sam Adams, known for their Boston Lager, went back to their roots for this ad. However, the brand’s idea of a “Brighter Boston,” where citizens are friendly even to arch-rival Yankee fans did not go down as smoothly as their beer might.
Boomers heavily disliked the advertisement, with many rating below 60% favorability.
Rank 11: Workday | Rock Star
If there’s anything we’ve learned from Superbowl Ad Reviews, it’s that celebrity cameos don’t necessarily guarantee positive ratings. Workday’s Rock Star ad is proof of that.
The SaaS provider’s commercial featured Paul Stanley of KISS, Ozzy Osbourne of Black Sabbath, Gary Clark Jr. and others griping about the misuse of the term “rock star” in corporate America and hailing themselves as the real rock stars.
Boomers rated significantly lower than other groups during the ad’s thirty second-long run and while 43% of Gen X found the ad to be “cool” only 25% of Boomers agreed with that view.
Rank 12: Rakuten | Not-So Clueless
Not “Rollin’ with the Homies”
Despite Popcorners’ success in using nostalgia to engage viewers with their ad, Rakuten’s Not-So Clueless did not enjoy the same outcome.
Rounding out the bottom of our list is the app’s ad featuring Alicia Silverstone reprising her iconic character Cher from the 1995 hit film Clueless and speaking about the cash back benefits of shopping with Rakuten.
Baby Boomers were not “Rollin’ with the homies” on this one, as only 12% of them found the ad to be one of the best they’d seen.
In the days leading up to Sunday’s Super Bowl LVII between the Kansas City Chiefs and the Philadelphia Eagles, Mercury Analytics conducted a survey including dial-tests of twelve commercials of popular brands that aired in preparation of the event. These brands included: Booking.com, Bud Light, Draft Kings, Fan Duel, General Motors & Netflix, Hellmann’s, Oikos, Popcorners, Rakuten, Sam Adams, Uber One and Workday.
Mercury’s study tested the performance of these commercials among a national sample of n=1281 of US adults aged 18+ who indicated that they were ‘very’ or ‘somewhat’ likely to watch the Super Bowl this weekend. Additional quotas were set to ensure the sample was representative of age, gender, and ethnicity demographic breakdowns in the US.
Respondents were first asked a series of demographic questions followed by questions to help understand respondents’ TV consumption patterns and likelihood to watch the Super Bowl. Next, respondents were each shown four out of fifteen commercials and asked to rate their feelings about them on a moment-to-moment basis. Each video was randomly-assigned, and each set of commercials was shown in random order to eliminate any biases resulting from viewing order.
As participants watched each commercial, they moved a slider just below the video to the right the more strongly they thought the commercial they were watching was ‘excellent’, or to the left the more strongly they thought the commercial was ‘terrible’. They also had the option to push a button that would identify a ‘SPECIAL MOMENT’.
Between watching each commercial, respondents were asked post-exposure questions to assess their opinions of the commercial and brand.
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