Apparently there was a football game surrounding yesterday’s commercials and Taylor Swift sightings, but we’re not going to talk about either of those things. As we did in 2023, the Retail TouchPoints team has picked our favorite ads (plus a few that didn’t quite get through the goalposts).
Temu Stumbles in Sophomore Outing…
Chinese discount shopping app Temu had one of the buzziest ads of last year’s Super Bowl as it introduced itself to American shoppers with the fun, poppy “Shop Like a Billionaire” spot. But a year later, with the app now a familiar name among American shoppers (although apparently many of us have been pronouncing it wrong), Temu’s second Super Bowl outing fell flat.
In a series of recurring spots and sponsored segments, the company doubled down on its “Shop Like a Billionaire” theme, but this time in a computer-generated setting that looked a lot like Meta’s Horizon Worlds (if you’re unfamiliar, the comparison is not a good one). The switch from real humans to CG characters, along with the addition of a mantra-like background voiceover that included repeated mentions of the name Temu along with phrases like, “Feels like a dream, feels like magic, now I can have it,” was more off-putting than enticing.
One has to wonder whether it was a smart move for Temu to overtly focus on some of the biggest reasons why many consumers report feeling guilty when they shop on the app. Whereas last year’s ad drove home that Temu’s accessibility allows everyone to “shop like a billionaire,” this year’s ad took it too far, with a tone that veered more toward gluttony and excess — not a great sentiment for a company that is already struggling to justify its business practices to the growing contingent of conscious consumers.
We did, however, learn how to actually say Temu. Apparently, it’s pronounced “tay-moo” not “tee-moo,” so in that regard at least the brand had a win.
…While Etsy, E.l.f. Score with Cheesy, Glittery Super Bowl Debuts
Where Temu seemed to have phoned it in for its second Super Bowl, newcomers Etsy and E.l.f. Cosmetics went all out for their debuts, with two ads filled with humor and production value. Etsy’s ad, in which Americans scramble to find a gift to reciprocate France’s generous offering of the Statue of Liberty, was a brilliant way to tout the company’s new “gift mode” tool.
E.l.f. also took the humorous route, bringing in Judge Judy for an episode of Judge Beauty in which an executive is on trial for over-spending on skincare. Ultimately the executive is sentenced to “$14 glowy skin” from E.l.f., but the whole trial is a minute-long joy to watch, with great interjections from Judge Judy like the classic, “Don’t pee on my leg and tell me it’s raining.”
All in all, two great spots from these newcomers who got their point across while demonstrating how in tune they are with today’s consumers.
Even Beyoncé is No Match for a 5G Network
Super Bowl ads are about more, MORE, MORE!!!, and the Beyoncé Verizon ad — where her attempts to break the internet with ever-more-memorable stunts fail due to the resilience of Verizon’s 5G network — smartly aligned the product’s unique selling proposition with the star’s iconic appeal. I liked best Beyoncé setting up a lemonade stand and performing in zero gravity on a space ship she’s piloting. Major props to comedic powerhouse Tony Hale (from Veep) as the nudge who keeps telling her she hasn’t yet broken the internet.
Of Course I Remember You!
Given that commercials are supposed to be memorable — particularly those aired during one of the few remaining events at which they’re guaranteed to have a HUGE audience — the Uber Eats commercial featuring Jennifer Aniston used memory itself as a highly effective gimmick. After Aniston tells the Uber Eats delivery person that, in order to remember the variety of products Uber Eats delivers (flowers, office supplies, etc.) she will need to forget something else to make room for this new information, we get vignettes of these memory holes featuring both ordinary people (a guy bringing Uber Eats coffee to his boss forgets how to sit down) and other celebs forgetting key facts: David and Victoria Beckham can’t remember the name of her former girl group (“Paprika Girls?” “No, that’s absurd” says Beckham). Aniston herself blanks on David Schwimmer, Ross to her Rachel for 10 years on Friends. Even Super Bowl Halftime Show star Usher joined in, saying he wished he could play the big show one day. Clever stuff.
Streaming Services Take Different Approaches to Acquisition
Two streaming services took big bets with their Super Bowl ad spots this year, but did so in vastly different ways. Paramount+ emphasized the breadth and depth of its content catalog and put its stars, both real and animated, front and center.
Patrick Stewart and Drew Barrymore were undoubtedly the star power of the ad (and even the band Creed, if you’re into that genre of music). But kids saw some familiar faces, too, such as Peppa Pig and the star of beloved Nickelodeon show Hey Arnold. All participants were tasked with climbing Paramount Mountain, “a mountain of entertainment.” Sure, the content could be a bit on the nose for some, but it was fast-moving, funny and had the right mix of familiar faces to create some stickiness. Plus, with the core plot and tagline of the spot directly connecting to the brand name, it’s bound to inspire some people to check out the platform.
But what I found very interesting is that Disney+ took the complete opposite approach. The streaming service undeniably has the more powerful intellectual property, including beloved characters like Mickey Mouse and Moana and entertainment brands like Marvel. Instead of putting these characters in the spotlight, Disney+ simply typed out quotes from these films with a simple black font on white background. At first, the bare-bones simplicity is a bit jarring. But then you quickly connect the dots and realize what the ad is conveying. It’s simple, it’s impactful and it effectively highlights the reach and impact of the Disney brand. The content speaks for itself.
It’s Spelled S-K-E-C-H-E-R-S
Another ad that effectively combined a celebrity of yesteryear (Mr. T) with a key product attribute (totally hands-free slip-in Skechers). He “pities the fool” who has to bend down to put on his shoes and insists that “T is always in Skechers!,” even though Tony Romo insists that there’s no “t” in Skechers. Cute, clever and fast-moving, but do people really misspell this brand’s name? Even if they don’t, this one works as a nice piece of brand recognition and a demonstration of key product attributes.