USA TODAY Ad Meter returns for 35th year of rating best Super Bowl ads

‘We are going to the Super Bowl!’

Back in 1989, Dana Carvey exclaimed those seven words to then-fellow Saturday Night Live cast member Jon Lovitz over the phone, and the rest was Super Bowl commercial history.

American Express’ fast-paced spot featuring the two funnymen (and whole lot of late-80s flare) became the first commercial to win the USA TODAY Ad Meter ratings, holding off two Pepsi ads to take the crown.

Since then, the leading tracker of public opinion on Super Bowl ads has been a significant part of advertising’s biggest stage, the proverbial water cooler where commercial fans could come and have their views about the big game lineup heard – from the frogs and dogs to office linebackers and a daringly helpful Melissa McCarthy. To a fussy Betty White, who simply needed a snack, and the nearly 2,000 other commercials that have gone live after a break in the action.

Now, some three and a half decades later, we arrive on the doorstep of Super Bowl 57 in Glendale, Arizona, which means the first national commercial block after the coin toss is not too far behind.

So without further ado, welcome to the 35th USA TODAY Ad Meter!

If you’d like to have your opinion on this year’s Super Bowl commercials heard, you can register to be an Ad Meter panelist beginning Thursday, Jan. 26.

Until then, here are a few Super Bowl commercial and Ad Meter updates as we get ready to kick things off.

Record prices haven’t affected demand

The cost for a spot in the Super Bowl 57 ad lineup is said to be in the $7-plus-million range,  a record-high price tag that tops 2022’s $6.5 million for a 30-second commercial. But the hefty sum has not kept brands from jumping into the national spotlight, with FOX’s inventory reportedly 95% filled. (Interestingly, FOX sold out in late November for the 2020 Super Bowl.)

Who’s in, who’s out?

Car brands have been the headliners of Super Bowl 57 skippers, including Toyota, BMW, Nissan, and GM. Coca-Cola joins that list again, along with Taco Bell and Meta.

On the other side, we’ve seen Ad Meter alums Avocados from Mexico create some campaign buzz, as well as Hellmann’s, Doritos (with Jack Harlow), Rakuten, Downy, and Pringles, which is featuring a mystery celeb – the brand’s first star since Bill Hader in 2018.

A-list trend to continue

In the past few years, brands have increasingly unveiled Super Bowl spots that have featured Hollywood’s elite or iconic athletes, a who’s-who filled names such as Peyton Manning, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Alex Morgan, Anna Kendrick, Jim Carrey, Seth Rogen and Paul Rudd.

And the early teasers in 2023 point to a steady rise in that trend.

Bryan Cranston returns to the Ad Meter lineup, teaming up with a familiar face in Aaron Paul for PopCorners. Michelob Ultra is back with a ‘Caddyshacks’ worth of talent, featuring Tony Romo, Serena Williams and Brian Cox, to name a few. And more is undoubtedly in the works, too.

New to the game

FanDuel is set for a national spot in Super Bowl 57, starring another well-known athlete in Rob Gronkowski (and a $10 million giveaway). In addition, Rémy Cointreau and Crown Royal will have ads, as will PopCorners, as mentioned earlier. Pepsi Zero Sugar will make an appearance, and so will the Christian campaign ‘He Gets Us.’

A battle is … brewing … sort of

Molson Coors is back in the game after a 30-year hiatus created by the alcohol exclusivity held by Anheuser-Busch. While that should make an intriguing head-to-head matchup with AB InBev’s lineup, it’s also been noted that the winningest Ad Meter brand of all time has cut down on the amount of air time.

Apple replaces Pepsi at halftime

Apple inked a $250 million deal with the NFL, a multiyear sponsorship that includes this year’s halftime show.

Super Bowl ad coverage with Adweek

YouTube’s AdBlitz is back!

Another great partnership that has elevated the Ad Meter ratings, YouTube is back for Super Bowl 57, which includes the brand’s exclusive big-game commercial platform, AdBlitz.

Looking ahead: Rate it again!

There’s so much to come leading up to Super Bowl Sunday, but it’s also worth looking ahead to the following week. Besides the announcement of the 2023 Ad Meter winner on Monday, Feb. 13, fans will have a chance to keep the commercial fun going with the Replay Ratings, which will take top ads (excluding the overall winner) in several categories like most comedic and heartwarming/inspirational.

Note: You must be a registered panelist to participate and cast your superlative votes.

That’s all for now. We’ll see you back here on Thursday, Jan. 26 for registration and the launch of 2023 Ad Meter!

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