Feb 13 2024
Ben Larrison

Advertising’s Biggest Day: A Look Back at Super Bowl LVIII


Thanks to a great matchup, a hyped halftime show, and (perhaps) just a little help from the world’s biggest pop star, Super Bowl LVIII drew a record 123.4 million viewers across the US, making Sunday night’s event the most-watched telecast of all time. The game aired on CBS (which accounted for 112 million of those viewers—the most ever for a single network) and was simulcast on streamer Paramount+. There was also a kids-focused broadcast on Nickelodeon, Spanish language coverage on Univision, and additional streaming options available via the CBS Sports website and app and on NFL+.

Of course, fans weren’t just tuning in to see if Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs could take down the San Francisco 49ers and capture their third Super Bowl title in five years (spoiler alert: He could). They were also there for the ads, which fetched a record-tying $7 million dollars a pop for a 30 second spot on the main broadcast.

Let's take a quick look at some of the top marketing stories from this year's Super Bowl:

Super Bowl Advertising in 2024

Football may reign supreme as America's most popular professional sport, but on the NFL's biggest stage, the advertisements also play a starring role. Two-thirds of viewers say they pay attention to commercials during the Big Game—with 12% saying they tune in primarily for the ads—showcasing why Super Bowl Sunday is still one of the most meaningful mass-market messaging vehicles available to brands.

This year, newcomers like CeraVe and Kawasaki joined Super Bowl mainstays like Budweiser and PepsiCo to tout their brands on advertising’s biggest night—and, in the case of most advertisers, for days or weeks beforehand, with teaser trailers and even full versions of some ads dropping as early as mid-January. Celebrities were a-plenty, appearing in 53% of commercials during the game by our count. And AI showed its influence, with ads for Google Pixel 8, Etsy, and Microsoft Copilot all touting their AI-powered capabilities.

The Cost (and Value) of a Super Bowl Ad

In 1995, the price of a 30-second spot during the Big Game surpassed $1 million for the first time. Just 20 years ago, back in 2004, a Super Bowl ad cost $2.3 million. But in recent years, with the Super Bowl standing out as one of the few cultural events guaranteed to draw a massive, unified audience (and with streaming and social extending the hype around spots for weeks before the game itself), the price of a :30 second commercial has skyrocketed, hitting record-setting $7 million in 2023 and 2024.

Of course, with a single ad amounting to nearly eight figures, the question inevitably becomes: Is it worth it?

Well, research shows that brands who have Super Bowl ads can expect to see a 68% increase in online conversation volume on the day of the game. That boost ebbs to 22% in online and offline conversation volume within a week, and then to a 16% increase about a month after, before leveling off from there.​

As for revenue, an academic study from Stanford University and Humboldt University found that brands can expect to see a post-game sales increase if their spot featured a new launch, had category exclusivity, and if the product has a low price point. Meanwhile, when brands air Super Bowl ads alongside their competitors, it tends to result in an overall sales increase for that category, though sales for specific products advertised within that category can be mixed.​ Lastly, products with higher price points can take longer to see an increase in sales, if any. So even with the wide reach that Super Bowl ads provide, a meaningful sales return is by no means guaranteed.

Brands in the Super Bowl ad roster may also see a spike in brand awareness. Ads featuring inspirational stories, smart casting, humor, and positive messages often correlate to a lift in positive associations, so the right creative and messaging can be key to success. 

Top Ads from Super Bowl LVIII

Which ads won the day among Basis employees? An internal poll of 136 Basis team members found that Dunkin’s “DunKings” ad (featuring Ben Affleck, Jennifer Lopez, Matt Damon, and Tom Brady) was the most popular commercial during this year’s game. CeraVe’s inaugural Super Bowl spot, featuring actor Michael Cera (Cera? CeraVe? Get it?) was also a hit, taking the #2 ranking just ahead of Google’s heartwarming ad for its Pixel 8 smartphone and BMW’s Christopher Walken-centric ad.

A Quick Look at T-Swift’s Impact

Now, it wouldn’t be 2024 football coverage if we didn’t spend at least a few minutes talking Taylor Swift. The pop superstar began dating Kansas City tight end (and State Farm/Campbell’s Soup/Subway/Lowe’s/Experian/Pfizer ad star) Travis Kelce last fall—and her presence at games has brought a new level of interest in the NFL this season. It’s also brought in some serious cash, with one firm estimating that Swift has created a “brand value” of $331.5 million for the Chiefs and the NFL.​ 

As for the Super Bowl, Swift was shown 12 times on the CBS broadcast for a total of 53 seconds (accounting for approximately 0.34% of the game’s 4:20 airtime). Kelce, meanwhile, logged nine catches for 93 yards in his team’s big win.