PR Lessons from Super Bowl LVIII’s Commercials

Whether you tuned into Super Bowl LVIII to root for the Kansas City Chiefs, San Francisco 49ers, or Taylor Swift, I would be willing to bet that at least one of the night’s commercials made an impression and has stuck with you weeks later.

It’s no secret that brands shell out major funds to get in front of Super Bowl viewers. In 2024, organizations spent upwards of $7 million for 30 seconds of airtime during one of television’s most-watched events. These advertisers had the unique – and high-pressure – challenge of cutting through the night’s extreme noise to create a memorial brand moment with consumers.

Below, we explore three public relations lessons companies of all sizes can learn from this year’s biggest branding hits and misses:

Timing Matters.

Two of the most memorable commercials, Cetaphil and Uber Eats, had one element in common: timeliness.

Both brands played off current cultural moments, with Cetaphil referencing Taylor Swift’s romance with Travis Kelce generating interest in football among more young women and Uber Eats recreating a viral moment between David and Victoria Beckham from Netflix’s “BECKHAM” docuseries, to capture and retain their audience’s attention.

Both Cetaphil and Uber Eats were timely and reactive. The brands showcased they understand their value proposition and what matters to their customers.

Authenticity Shines.

Whether your organization is developing external key messaging or finalizing your upcoming social media calendar, authenticity is critical to success. This was exemplified by Google Pixel’s “Javier in Frame,” which showcased how “Pixel 8 uses Google AI to make it easier for people with blindness or low vision to capture photos and share daily life.”

In one minute, the campaign simultaneously highlighted Google’s new technology, showcased enhancements to the user experience, and demonstrated how this technology can positively impact the communities Google serves.

To stand out, many brands fall into the trap of leaning too heavily on high-profile celebrity endorsements or comedic relief without a strong brand connection. Google reminds us that the most powerful and memorable communications campaigns will resonate with audiences if they are authentic.

Remember Your Mission.

One ad that unfortunately missed the mark this year was e.l.f Cosmetics. While the brand was timely in featuring a Suits cast reunion amid the show’s revival on Netflix, the ad also featured other unrelated A-list celebrities, imitated Judge Judy, and featured too many key messages, all of which muddied the campaign’s overarching goal: to urge consumers not to overpay for high-quality makeup products.

One brand that did this well? Poppi. Poppi used its one-minute slot to give viewers one key takeaway: redefine the meaning of soda. Poppi quickly and efficiently introduced its product, organizational vision, and directly addressed consumer concerns about traditional soda products through Poppi’s key differentiators.

At the end of the day, our favorite Super Bowl commercials are somewhat subjective. But for the most part, this year’s “winners” represent the hallmarks of a successful communications campaign.

For more from the Maven team, don’t miss our recent insights: Keys to Effective Litigation PR, Networking in the New Year, and Creating A Strategic Communications Plan.

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