‘Advertisers tried too hard’: Few Super Bowl LVIII ads win as celeb takeover continues

Super Bowl LVIII on Sunday delivered another nail-biter on the field but a lot of head-scratchers on the advertising front — hello, Temu and RFK Jr. — with just a handful of clever, albeit conventional, commercials cutting through the clutter. 

The Kansas City Chiefs secured a clutch win over the San Francisco 49ers in overtime at Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas, fortifying their status as the next NFL dynasty. The night also acted as a Hollywood moment for fans who have tracked the relationship between Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce and Taylor Swift, capped off with a victorious kiss, though the excitement mostly stayed focused on the ups and downs of the game itself (with one of Kelce’s blowups achieving meme status).

Marketers seeking a similar moment in the sun relied on tried-and-true tactics, playing it safe in the wake of a year rife with culture wars controversy, though the realities of an election cycle and global strife still uncomfortably crept in. As with last year’s big game, too many companies relied on the mere presence of a celebrity (or celebrities in many cases) to score points, with humor, wit and a connection to the product curiously absent. A deluge of listless cameos ended up benefitting ads that actually had a distinctive angle, such as CeraVe’s winning, weird effort with Michael Cera or State Farm’s campaign playing on Arnold Schwarzenegger’s accent, the leader of the pack for USA Today’s closely watched Ad Meter

“The Super Bowl this year was the Kitchen Sink Bowl,” said Jason Harris, president and CEO of agency Mekanism, in emailed comments. “Advertisers tried too hard. Instead of one celebrity, they put in 5 or 6. Instead of one clear joke, they aimed for several. It was overly complex and hard to even

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