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Super Bowl 2023 Ad Rankings

February 2023

This is a self-funded case study using our Ad Testing solution.

🏈 Super Bowl LVII had it all — one of the highest scoring spectacles in the big game’s history, a nail-biting finish which had fans on the edge of their seats, jaw-dropping plays by both teams, and of course the obligatory controversial refereeing call(s)! Kansas City’s young gun quarterback Patrick Mahomes and coach Andy Reid both secured their places as First Ballot Hall of Famers following the win.

But the thing which makes the Super Bowl such a one-of-a-kind spectacle is that it’s the one and only time of the year that viewers are just as absorbed by what’s happening off the field, as they are with what’s happening on it. This represents the holy grail for advertisers, and a belated Christmas Day for advertising junkies like us at Cubery!

But, in the rush to test ads and separate the wheat from the chaff, what quickly gets lost is the theory and ‘science’ behind what makes an ad effective. In particular, we’ve seen marketers grow increasingly skeptical toward the idea that “emotion” and “happiness” are the be-all and end-all of advertising success.

To be clear, emotion (and standing out) is a prerequisite; advertising which doesn’t enter people’s mental headspace is consigned to being ineffectual. But from there, two other (equally important) things must happen:

  1. The memories must be inextricably connected to the brand; and
  2. Motivating impressions, associations, and ideas must be seeded in people’s minds.

Our framework has been built upon these rigorous theoretical underpinnings, distilling the factors for success into a simple and intuitive framework — the 3Cs:

  1. Captivate: Be emotive; stand out and grab attention.
  2. Connect: Be recognizable; synergize with expectations.
  3. Compel: Be motivating; drive behavioral change.

We produce a one number composite metric (the Cubery Rating) which equally weights the 3Cs, providing a robust and transparent prediction of effectiveness. You can read more about our framework here.

The below rankings are broken out across 3 key verticals: Food/beverage, Alcohol and Technology. Enjoy the insights! 

🍿 Food/Beverage

Dunkin’ | Drive-Thru

Cubery Rating: 78

Ben Affleck serving your morning Dunkin’ (Donuts) was a hit, with the Hollywood A-Lister’s encounters with real-world customers delighting viewers. While the hidden camera concept wasn’t especially new and original (particularly among the big budget productions of other Super Bowl advertisers), the ad nonetheless delivered. Importantly, the Dunkin’ brand wasn’t forgotten — remaining front-and-center during the ad’s most warmhearted and amusing moments, guaranteeing it’ll be the one to benefit from the positivity generated.

“I love how this ad used a Boston actor to work at a Dunkin’. The fact that a celebrity and normal people can be seen at a Dunkin’ makes it even more relatable.”

PopCorners | Breaking Good

Cubery Rating: 77

Tapping into the nostalgia of iconic television programs or movies isn’t exactly a new phenomenon for Super Bowl Sunday — you only need to look as far as General Motors’ ad featuring Dr. Evil and Chevrolet’s Sopranos-inspired spot from last year — and it’s easy to see why. If brought to life in a way which does our favorite characters justice, a trip down memory lane can be a highly effective shortcut to emotional appeal. Though Heisenberg has appeared in the big game before, PopCorners’ reunion of Breaking Bad’s beloved crew (including our favorite maniac, Tuco) created a highly amusing story which elevated the product’s appeal.

“Best ad I have seen in quite some time. The nostalgia factor alone is priceless. Bringing the band back together, using a blue bag - just masterful.”

Pringles | Best of Us

Cubery Rating: 70 (+5 vs. 2022)

Unlike other brands who threw out last year’s Super Bowl script and started again from scratch in 2023, Pringles is a brand which understands the power of consistency, digging deeper again into the can of potential. This chip off the old block ditched the sad undertones of 2022 to instead celebrate the variety of people (the ‘Best of Us’) who had gotten their hand stuck in a Pringles can. And it’s a great thing they went back for more: such a unique, relatable — and, most importantly, ownable — insight is hard to find. And if it can be leveraged as both a source of humor and a testament to the product’s tastiness, then effectiveness is the advertisers’ ultimate reward.

“I kind of liked that they highlighted getting stuck in the can. No other product has that distinctive of a quality.”

Avocados from Mexico | Make it Better

Cubery Rating: 70 (+15 vs. 2022)

The Cinderella story of 2023 came courtesy of Avocados from Mexico, who rebounded in a massive way from last year’s effort. The star power of Anna Faris grabbed viewers’ attention from the outset; however, this wasn’t the only reason for the brand’s dramatic change in fortunes. While the 2022 execution made the brand a secondary priority in favor of a quirky medieval narrative, ‘Make it Better’ was much more effective at drawing attention to the fruit. As a result, people were able to more clearly link the product to the message, building considerably stronger predisposition in the process.

“This is so unique and even with the naked people, it kept the avocados looking delicious.”

Pepsi Zero Sugar | Great Acting or Great Taste?

Cubery Rating: 68

Pepsi No Sugar was another to harness the power of celebrity; however, it was the specific choice of ambassador that enabled ‘Great Acting or Great Taste’ to outgun its competitors’ celeb-rified executions. Pepsi’s fun and cheeky brand personality fit seamlessly with both Ben Stiller and Steve Martin, allowing the brand to deliver its humorous message both credibly and with a sense of authenticity. As a result, while the “try it for yourself” call-to-action didn’t strongly incite an immediate behavioral response, the overall narrative built lots of warmth and positivity toward the soda brand (which we know will hold it in good stead in the long-term).

“I very much liked the actors in the commercial. They made the ad come alive.”

Planters | The Roast of Mr. Peanut

Cubery Rating: 67

Planters’ approach toward promoting its roasted peanuts consisted of roasting a peanut. It’s as simple as that. While the execution didn’t quite make it to the knee-slapping sector of the humor department, the 30 second spot was pleasant and engaging enough to get onto viewers’ good side. Crucially, though, it was the narrative’s simplicity and single-mindedness which gave the brand’s iconic mascot an unmistakable role, enabling Planters to benefit even without saying much about the product itself.

“Nothing really stood out about the ad other than it was for Planters.”

Hellmann’s | Who’s in the Fridge?

Cubery Rating: 64 (-4 vs. 2022)

Which is more captivating — miniature celebrities, or ex-pro football players slam tackling civilians? The results are in, and it’s bad news for mini Brie Larsson and mini Jon Hamm (or civilians for that matter!). Whereas Hellmann’s 2022 spot featured the comedic display of linebacker Jerod Mayo piledriving people for their wasteful food habits, the 2023 creative took a noticeably more toned-down approach. That said, the lighthearted banter of two well-known celebrities conveyed a pleasant message around how Hellmann’s helps improve leftovers.

“I liked the idea of the characters being small enough to fit inside the refrigerator. I also liked the clever way that two products/names were put together to make something delicious out of the brand being advertised.”

Doritos | Jack’s New Angle

Cubery Rating: 60 (-22 vs. 2022)

Coming into the 2023 Super Bowl our eyes weren’t fixated on Rihanna, but on Doritos instead. How would the brand follow-up last year’s red-hot collaboration with Cheetos? Sadly, we were left a little baffled. While sticking to a musical theme, ‘Jack’s New Angle’ felt more like a reversion to cheesy star power and outlandish stories — with little role for the iconic chips themselves. Doritos have been lauded for their experimental ‘brandless’ ownership of the triangle shape, but the chips’ role as coincidental inspiration for the story did little to link Doritos to ‘trying another angle’ — instead, the brand was left undifferentiated, much like the angles of an equilateral triangle.

“The triangle made sense with the shape of the Doritos chip, but I didn't really get it.”

Oikos | Sanders Family Reunion

Cubery Rating: 60

Oikos’ battle of strength continued in 2023. While 2022 saw Deion Sanders and his son, Shedeur, come to blows in an effort to prove who was “strongerer”, this year saw the Sanders competition expand to include the whole family (with Grandpa Deion played by regular Deion himself). While the familiar theme struck a chord with some people, many others were left scratching their heads as to how it all related to the brand and what message it was trying to convey.

“This ad missed the mark for me. It was way more about the Sanders family than Oikos. Cute ad, but very minimal product content in my opinion.”

M&M’s | Ma&Ya’s

Cubery Rating: 52

Notwithstanding the deliberate attempt to elicit feelings of cringeworthy-ness, M&M’s spot still failed to deliver in almost any respect. While the bizarre narrative featuring Maya Rudolph in a world where chocolate is replaced by clams succeeded in catching people’s attention, this was mostly a function of people’s intensely negative response, with the ad eliciting high levels of annoyance and irritation. More so, the strange dreamlike concept was at odds with people’s expectations of the brand. Needless to say, resulting positivity toward the brand or predisposition to purchase the usually fun-loving candy was severely hampered.

“If they were trying to sell me on M&M's they failed miserably.”

🍺 Alcohol

Samuel Adams | Your Cousin's Brighter Boston

Cubery Rating: 84

To speak in football terms, Samuel Adams’ 2023 Super Bowl ad scored a touchdown followed by a 2-point conversion — and that still mightn’t be giving it the full credit it deserves! Commemorating its brighter, reformulated lager, the brand took its protagonist from last year and re-imagined what a ‘brighter’ Boston tastes like — flipping all the tropes on their head in a masterfully crafted story. The entertaining ad ultimately left people with strong feelings of happiness.

“Having Kevin Garnett in the ad was great. Having the Yankees Red Sox rivalry was brilliant. It was funny seeing Boston people being kind. Great ad.”

Heineken 0.0 | Shrinking & Drinking

Cubery Rating: 79

If teaming up with an Avenger is a sure-fire way to kick butt, then Heineken 0.0 delivered in spades. Starring the affable Paul Rudd in a co-branded venture with Marvel to promote the newest Antman movie, people enjoyed the simple yet engaging narrative of the superhero taking a quick break from doing superhero things. While deploying such a popular and recognizable character risks overshadowing the brand (particularly for a co-branded execution), Heineken was up to the task — maintaining a key role in the narrative and ensuring all positivity garnered from the humorous storyline was directed to the intended target.

“I really love the tie-in with the new Ant Man movie. It shows that drinking non-alcoholic beer is pretty cool.”

Crown Royal | Thank You Canada

Cubery Rating: 74

Crown Royal’s ode to Canada saw rock god Dave Grohl take viewers through a raft of Canadian inventions — culminating in the controversial claim of American Football also being one of those. Luckily, rather than being seen as an insulting affront to U.S. culture, viewers found the ad highly engaging and likeable (largely owing to the interesting facts and charismatic narrator). Despite Crown Royal not being specifically mentioned a great deal, the Canadian focus nonetheless helped frame viewers’ expectations, allowing Crown Royal to carve out a unique, Canadian shaped piece for itself within the alcohol category.

“Dave Grohl is great, and it was interesting to see all the things I had no idea came from Canada.”

Bud Light | Easy to Drink, Easy to Enjoy

Cubery Rating: 72

Familiar with the frustration of being put on hold by customer service and having to listen to waiting music for what feels like an eternity? Well, you’re not alone, with Bud Light bringing this frustratingly relatable scenario to life in a highly amusing way. Featuring Top Gun star, Miles Teller, his wife Keleigh, and their cute dog Buggsy, the ad depicts the family making the most of the long wait time — cracking open a distinctively blue can of Bud Light while dancing to the therapeutic call waiting music.

“I liked it because everyone has been on an extended hold on the phone and many have probably thought about dancing to the hold music. I could see this actually happening.”

Busch Light | The Busch Guide

Cubery Rating: 71

Busch Light’s spoof of Grammy-award winner Sarah McLachlan’s iconic ASPCA commercials was a hit. As part of the brand’s three-step guide for surviving in the wilderness, Sarah innocently misinterprets creating a shelter as bringing the cute animals in, rather than keeping the wild ones out! While the approach might’ve prioritized eliciting an emotional response over conveying a motivating product message, the amusing shift in tone and correction that it was a wolf in the tent with her (not a dog) ultimately put a smile on people’s faces.

“It was a riot!!! So funny and clever since we have all seen Sarah's commercials for the animals.”

Michelob ULTRA | New Members Day

Cubery Rating: 69 (-7 vs. 2022)

Michelob ULTRA traded the bowling alley for the golfing green in 2023. Continuing to pay homage to classic moments in cinema, the brand played off the 1980 hit, Caddyshack — “Be the ball” one of the iconic lines uttered as Serena Williams nails her putt to hand the notoriously grouchy Brian Cox the L. While the story didn’t quite match the heights of last year’s parody of The Big Lebowski, the star-studded cast and amusing storyline still tapped into the right set of emotions, while importantly giving the brand a central role throughout.

“It reminded me of the movie Caddy shack. It was funny when the grounds keeper opens the Michelob beer and the vibration from the sound makes the ball go in the hole.”

Budweiser | Six Degrees of Bud

Cubery Rating: 63 (-6 vs. 2022)

As one Twitter user put it: “I have counted on three things in my life: Death, Taxes, and the Budweiser Clydesdales Super Bowl commercial”. Well, that was until 2023. In a change of direction for Budweiser, the brand stepped away from its emotional storylines featuring the iconic Clydesdale horses in favor of something which can only be described as more “run-of-the-mill”. While some liked the message that Budweiser was for everyone and could be consumed by all walks of life, the flat delivery and bit-part role of the brand’s most distinctive asset ultimately limited its emotional impact.

“Best part are the horses. Otherwise, it’s just another typical commercial.”
“Too generic of an ad, seen variations of this a million times.”

Rémy Martin | Inch by Inch

Cubery Rating: 53

Rémy Martin’s 2023 Super Bowl spot delivered a timely warning to advertisers that simply banging ingredients into a pot doesn’t always make for a hearty stew. Sure, ‘Inch by Inch’ had star power (hello again, Serena 👋), emotive audio/visuals, and even a hard-hitting halftime speech. The problem is, what did it all have to do with Rémy Martin? The brand’s role was purely incidental, with the narrative — which was semi-related to “football and life” — failing to elicit a strong emotional response. Many subsequently disengaged from the message, limiting any opportunity to build positive affinity toward the brand.

“I disliked that it was primarily focused on Serena and her popularity. Her pep talk was out of the blue and had nothing to do with the product.”

📱 Technology

TurboTax | Come to TurboTax

Cubery Rating: 68

Shunning the celeb-heavy Hollywood productions of competitors, TurboTax stood out for its single-mindedness (although the boppy soundtrack also helped grab attention in the Cubery HQ offices!). By emphasizing the free time one could have by not doing their own taxes, TurboTax delivered a fun and relaxed vibe that provided a welcome change of pace. The enabling role of TurboTax in giving people back precious time in their day ultimately painted the brand in a favorable light.

“I loved that I could be doing anything other than my taxes if I take them to Turbo Tax.”

Squarespace | The Singularity

Cubery Rating: 68

What’s more attention grabbing than an Adam Driver celebrity cameo? Try infinite Adam Driver celebrity cameos. Playing off the mind-bending notion of a website that makes websites, Squarespace’s 2023 Super Bowl spot certainly turned a lot of heads with its visually absorbing Sci-Fi theme. Beyond this, however, the ad wasn’t overly enjoyed, with some finding the narrative creepy and intimidating. As a result, while the creative idea stood out within the Super Bowl soup bowl, it didn’t leave people feeling more favorable toward the brand.

“I don't usually respond to ads. This one sounds almost intimidating.”

Paramount Plus | A Mountain of Entertainment

Cubery Rating: 62

As one of the ‘big five’ studios, Paramount Pictures owns a mountain of content — holding enough sway to lure Sylvester Stallone into being the literal face of Paramount Mountain. While hero-ing Stallone may have been an obvious way to promote the streaming service’s new hit show, the ‘cliffhanger’ story instead showed off a multitude of characters from Star Trek to Dora to Reno 911. Unfortunately, the busy cast (10 characters in just 30 seconds!) was a creative blockbuster that, much like Stallone himself, fell flat for viewers.

“I think this is too busy and mildly annoying. Seems very stream channel like.”

Uber One | One Hit for Uber One

Cubery Rating: 61

Did somebody say, Uber One? Having witnessed the success of its arch-rival in the U.K. (Just Eat’s collaboration with Snoop Dogg), Uber One took the rap wars to the once quiet streets of food delivery. Emulating (or dissing) Snoop’s jingle with an attempted hit of their own, renowned producer P.Diddy’s track failed to land any punches. Feeling like a forced insertion into the narrative, ‘One Hit for Uber One’ failed to strongly persuade people toward considering the service, resulting in the ad being relegated to the B-side of Super Bowl viewers’ mixtapes.

“I didn't get the ad at all. I didn't like the music in it.”

Rakuten | Not-So Clueless

Cubery Rating: 56

With Alicia Silverstone dusting off the famous yellow tartan suit once again, Rakuten tapped into a little 90’s nostalgia in an attempt to win viewers’ hearts. Unfortunately, the iconic movie character’s connection to the Cash Back service left people ‘clueless’. Despite pre-game anticipation around the return of Cher “Ms. Popular” Horowitz, the ad didn’t grab viewers and draw them in, with some even left feeling annoyed. Ultimately, the obscure link between character and story left many scratching their heads wondering what Cher’s connection to Rakuten was, and what it is that the comp

“The humor was cute but overplayed instead of showing more benefits of using Rakuten.”

Get in touch to speak to one of our consultants about our ad testing & tracking solution. Expert-led, evidence-based insights — which don’t break the bank.

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