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2 winners and 2 losers from Super Bowl 2023

February 2023

This is a self-funded case study using our ad testing solution.

You win some, you lose some. While these words mightn’t be enough to lift the spirits of Philadelphia Eagles players, staff, and fans alike — following their crushing Super Bowl loss to the Kansas City Chiefs — it’s part-and-parcel in the pursuit of the ultimate glory.

This also extends to the off-field action; the public’s response to the advertising is only heightened as brands compete for attention on the biggest day in America’s advertising calendar.

At Cubery, we test all the big ads, year-in, year-out. Today we’ll be taking a look at who took a step up and became 2023’s MVP, and who fumbled the ball (apart from Jalen Hurts 😋) — after scoring a touchdown in 2022.

The Winners:
Avocados from Mexico | Make it Better

Cubery Rating: 70 (+15 vs. 2022)

Versus 2022, Avocados from Mexico scored a 40-yard touchdown in 2023. Taking aim at all things apples, the amusing narrative re-imagined a world where avocados were the hero — Adam & Eve, the Big Apple, and Apple iPhone all in the firing line as Avocados from Mexico instead took center stage.

If standing out was the only thing that mattered when it came to advertising success, Avocados from Mexico would’ve topped the charts in both 2022 and 2023. Leveraging proven mechanisms for grabbing attention, Avocados from Mexico combined the brand’s signature quirkiness together with celebrity firepower (a bare Anna Faris leading the charge in 2023).

However, as we know, advertising’s success isn’t just limited to captivating viewers; a memorable brand link and conveying motivating impressions both play an equally important role. It’s in this respect that 2023’s ‘Make it Better’ thrived. By using the product as the vehicle to drive the witty narrative (unlike 2022’s medieval plot where the avocados played second fiddle to the characters), it gave Avocados from Mexico a meaningful purpose within the lighthearted story. As a result, Avocados from Mexico was the full beneficiary of the warmth and favorability generated by the 2023 spot.

Watch the 2023 Avocados from Mexico ad.

Watch the 2022 Avocados from Mexico ad.

Pringles | Best of us

Cubery Rating: 70 (+5 vs. 2022)

Pringles turned its frown upside down in 2023 — not just in terms of narrative mood and tone, but also the brand’s overall Super Bowl performance! Again tapping into the relatable (and ownable) insight of overly-enthusiastic individuals getting their hands stuck in a Pringles cannister, the brand provided a reminder of the power of fresh consistency and reinforcing memory structures over time.

While 2022’s more somber ‘Stuck in’ wasn’t a terrible performer by any means, 2023’s follow-up dug into the relationship between grandfather and grandson — humorously showing that getting your hand stuck in a can has happened to the ‘Best of us’. This added the uplifting spin needed to create positive feelings among the masses, with the storyline entertaining viewers while simultaneously reinforcing the brand’s fun personality.

Watch the 2023 Pringles ad.

Watch the 2022 Pringles ad.

The Losers:
Doritos | Jack’s New Angle

Cubery Rating: 60 (-22 vs. 2022)

Coming off the back of such a strong performance in 2022, it was always going to be a tough ask for Doritos to back it up again in 2023. Last year’s ‘Push it’ was not only the most effective Super Bowl ad of the year, but also one of the most effective ads of the whole year. People were enamored with the cute animals and their synchronized reactions to the spiciness of the Flamin’ Hot flavor. The approach leveraged more than a few of the success factors contained in our Creative Effectiveness Playbook to help cement its top-spot.

While 2023’s ‘Jack’s New Angle’ stuck with the musical theme, it came up well short of ‘Push it’. The (overplayed) role of Jack Harlow, together with the drawn-out punchline, ultimately saw the ad fall flat and fail to trigger an intensely positive emotional response. While the three-sided chip was the ‘inspiration’ for Jack’s career switch from rapper to triangle-player-extraordinaire, the brand’s role was comparatively overshadowed (with the triangle shape perhaps not the immediately identifiable device previously thought).

Watch the 2023 Doritos ad.

Watch the 2022 Doritos ad.

Budweiser | Six Degrees of Bud

Cubery Rating: 63 (-6 vs. 2022)

Budweiser’s Clydesdales have been a mainstay of the brand’s Super Bowl commercials forever, which makes the decision to depart from the instantly recognizable asset all-the-more perplexing. Though still featured in the opening frame as the narrative transitioned to an urban setting, the horses — to many people’s surprise — weren’t to be seen again.

Instead, what followed was a more generic story about how Budweiser is suitable for anyone and everyone (21 and older, that is). While the diversity-focused messaging was warmly received and aligned with the brand’s values, it lacked the rocky emotional journey of last year’s story (which featured a concerned dog and its injured horse companion, eliciting the feels).

Watch the 2023 Budweiser ad.

Watch the 2022 Budweiser ad.

What are the learnings for marketers?

While it’s easy to become absorbed in the spectacle of the Super Bowl and subsequently prioritize emotion above all else, the strongest performing ads of 2023 continued to reinforce that this is where advertising success starts — not ends. Re-deploying distinctive assets in fresh and topical ways, creating emotional narratives which paint the brand as the hero, and conveying single-minded ideas are elements which — when utilized in tandem — are ultimately what gives brands an unfair advantage. Importantly, these learnings hold true no matter the advertising stage!

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