A big year for Food & Bev in Super Bowl LVIII

Food & Beverage brands tend to outperform the pack and generate more impact.
15 February 2024
Super Bowl
Lexi Capelli

Senior Director, Creative Solutions Delivery, Food & Bev Team Lead, North America

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In a year where the Food & Beverage industry is facing headwinds like the surge in GLP-1 use and the move towards more sustainable packaging, brands rose to the occasion for Super Bowl LVIII. Our LINK AI assessment of all national Super Bowl LVIII ads shows that this category tended to outperform the pack, particularly when it came to generating Impact. Here, we’ll dive into some of the why’s behind that achievement and a bit of food for thought (pun-intended) as brands prepare for next year:

How does an ad create impact?

To break through, an ad must be:

  • Memorable: the brand has to be the hero of the story, the reason for being of the ad. This is not about simply being recalled post-viewing but also crafting a narrative that can only be told for that brand.
  • Enjoyable and Emotionally Engaging: it has to entice people to want to watch it again and strike the right emotional tone.
  • Capture Active Attention: TV is viewed in a “lean back” fashion. Great ads get people to lean in (before they jump into their phone screens!).

Well-branded ads in Super Bowl LVIII had strong insights at the heart of their storylines

The splitting of an Oreo has achieved such a high level of cultural fascination that in 2022, researchers at MIT dove deep to determine if it’s possible for the crème in an Oreo to split evenly when twisting the cookie apart – the preferred method of consumption for most. “Twist On It” successfully puts that method at the heart of its Super Bowl LVIII ad, putting it in the context of a coin flip. It’s cheeky in its placement of Oreo at the heart of decisions made throughout history, culminating in a more relevant example for today’s audiences: Kris Jenner & Keeping Up with the Kardashians. For its efforts, Oreo earns a top-tier branding score of 73  in our LINK AI assessment.

A solid combination: Active Attention & Enjoyment

Reese’s understood the assignment when it came to crafting their Super Bowl ad: they went big on the laughs while leveraging their highly recognizable spokesperson to take viewers from peak excitement to the depths of despair and back again as they described the newest innovation on the Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup (now with caramel!). The wide variety of exaggerated reactions on display is predicted to continue drawing viewers back in again and again leading to strong enjoyment and involvement scores of 76 and 78, respectively. This bolsters the overall impact of “Yessss!” while easily tying back to the core Reese’s brand.

Hitting the Trifecta

Dina & Mita from Doritos is another example of an ad with a strong insight at its core, one of the few from the Big Game that made an explicit effort towards diversity, equity, and inclusion. This Hispanic/Latinx-forward storyline is a battle for the reinvigorated Dinamita Doritos that takes the viewer on a wild and exciting ride. In addition to strong branding (72), Dinamita is bolstered by its dynamic and actively engaging narrative, leading to strong enjoyment and involvement scores of 74 and 94, respectively. As such, it is one of the most impactful ads of Super Bowl LVIII and showcased as a top performer in our summation of the Big Game.

Food for Thought

As we saw in our deep dive into Branding in Super Bowl LVIII, a number of brands were held back by the draw of “celebrity soup” while others were hindered by an entertainment-first approach. A subset of the entertainment-first approach are ads that struggled to truly show off the brand. As this category is made up of tangible items, this is not something that should ever be an issue. While a bold statement to make, having a physical product to showcase is an advantage relative to other categories, and it means ads in this one should be setting the branding bars higher in general and as they prepare for Super Bowl LIX. Some guidelines to consider:

  • Distinctive assets like packaging and product shape should be used to easily cue the brand. Oreo does this well.
  • The advantage of being able to showcase taste using all or a mix of the senses should be exploited. Reese’s did a nice job of tying back to the classic taste of the chocolate while introducing a new variation.
  • Celebrity spokespeople that are clear ties to the brand should always be considered over the short-term entertainment value of an ensemble that may not make sense for the brand. Again, Reese’s succeeds here by leveraging their longtime spokesperson, Will Arnett, and resisting the urge to dilute his recognizability by including another personality.

Sounds simple from the outside, but as we’ve addressed earlier this week, this stuff is hard. Brands that successfully navigated Super Bowl LVIII should feel pride…and likely some relief as the buzz and analysis fade to black.

Deeper into Super Bowl and beyond

For more information and to see who got it right, as well as in-game advertising trends, what consumers are looking for, and the impact of advertising during the Big Game in our Super Bowl 2024 Creative Effectiveness Report.

Get a behind the scenes look at how we helped Hershey with the creative development process for its Super Bowl ad for Reese’s Caramel Big Cup. Join us, alongside Hershey, to see how Kantar's Developer Live solution helped inform and optimize the creative process, preparing the brand for advertising's biggest night. Register here.

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