18 Feb 2024

From Christopher Walken to JLo: the best ads of Super Bowl 2024

From Culture 101, 2:05 pm on 18 February 2024
Steve Cochran

Steve Cochran Photo: Supplied

Super Bowl 58 was held in Las Vegas this year with the Kansas City Chiefs facing off against the San Francisco 49ers. The event has become a cultural phenomenon across the world, televised in more than 200 countries. 

This year - with the help of Taylor Swift’s attendance and influence this season (much to the chagrin of many NFL fans) - the Super Bowl became the most-watched telecast of all time, reaching an audience of 123.7 million viewers. 

It’s the biggest sporting day in America but the game is just one part of the massive event. The Halftime Show is highly anticipated along with the 70-plus advertisements shown across the hours. 

In a world where audiences are so dispersed across various platforms, this may be one of the only events where viewers come together and stay to watch the ads at the same time. Usually, it’s about trying to avoid them.

For advertisers, it’s an opportunity to reach a mass audience and the costs reflect that. A 30” advertising spot this year cost US$7 million. It may be a 30” advertisement but the buzz around it can start weeks before with teasers and short clips online and it’s hoped the conversation will continue afterwards.

Saatchi & Saatchi Chief Creative Officer, Steve Cochran, joined Culture 101’s Perlina Lau to analyse the best ads of the Super Bowl. 

With more than 35 years in the industry, Cochran says it’s almost become a competition and it’s “like the X-Factor of advertising”.

“The fact these ads cost $US7 million for 30 seconds means these brands are not wanting to waste that media so they spend possibly twice that much, if not more, to make an ad worth spending $US7 million to run it."


Cochran says the fact Christopher Walken is integral to the story, rather than just a cameo makes for an effective ad.  

“The product is pretty central to the whole thought. You remember it’s for BMW and because he’s such an individual, it really plays to the ‘there’s only one’”. 

New Zealander, Clemens Zlami, is one of those behind the ad which has received strong reviews with Esquire magazine listing it as Number 1 this week. 


Michael Cera is often portrayed as a lovable dork, most recently seen in Barbie. The humour and sense of self-awareness in CereVe’s advertisement drew Cochran’s attention. 

“It’s the - we’re having fun here, we’re making an ad. Don’t take this too seriously. A lot of the ads only run once during the Super Bowl so it’s the clips before and after which make up the conversation.” 

Anyone watching the various advertisements will know it’s a celebrity feast. 

“Often they're not there to even give credibility, they’re there for attention and to be memorable.”

Mountain Dew

Fans of Parks and Recreation and The White Lotus S2 will recognise Aubrey Plaza. The advertisers have capitalised on her well-known deadpan delivery and RBF (resting bitch face).

“They’ve totally utilised this. It features her in a bunch of wild situations having a blast but her persona and manner is anything but.”

At the end of the ad, there’s a cameo actor by Nick Offerman; Plaza’s colleague from Parks and Recreation - a nostalgic nugget for fans. 

“It’s been pointed out across many of the ads that there's been this reunion of characters from TV shows or movies. We’re all so connected now and those stories are the stories popping up in our feeds everyday. They’re things to tap into for brands. You want to pick up on what’s going on and play to those things,” says Cochran. 

Dunkin Donuts

This is perhaps the epitome of a celeb fest. Dunkin Donuts features JLo, Ben Affleck, Matt Damon and Super Bowl king Tom Brady.

Cochran explains the ad is full of trigger points with the example of the tracksuits worn by Affleck, Damon and Brady as a product you can later purchase. They have, in fact, since sold out. 

There are also references to the Dunkin Donuts ad last year and the 2023 Grammy Awards. 

“A good campaign will have ways for the audience to participate. It’s more than just watching a film. It has all these other on-ramps to be involved in it.”


Finally, a more nostalgic advertisement targeting the emotions. The footage of the journey of the VW throughout different historical moments made for an authentic-feeling ad. 

“It’s fantastic. My parents were great fans of Neil Diamond and it took me back to sitting in the back of the Morris 1800 when I was a kid.”

The record viewership this year was boosted by Taylor Swift’s support for her boyfriend Travis Kelce of the Kansas City Chief. It brought in more female viewers with potential spending power.

For advertisers, this was another demographic to consider and target.

“We talked about the Super Bowl being a phenomenon of three parts - perhaps there were four parts this year. 

“It was already seen that the viewership numbers of this season had gone up and they put that down to the attention she was getting by being at the games.

“It helped them sell the advertising spaces because they knew it would be a good year.”