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Super Bowl: Go early to win

A System1 study indicates that brands who unveil their Super Bowl ads before the Big Game get a jump start on those who wait.

3 min read

MarketingMarketing Strategy

Allegiant Stadium

Think you need to surprise viewers with your ad to get an impact during the Super Bowl? Think again. Ads that are released beforehand get just as much attention, emotional reaction and resulting brand impact as when they air on CBS’ broadcast. 

Creative effectiveness platform System1 Group analyzed all the ads from Super Bowl LVII in 2023 and found that among the top ads, 60% released their ads early.  Moreover, early released ads delivered greater brand impact during the game. System1 tests consumers’ second-by-second emotional responses throughout an ad, measures the factors that determine long-term brand impact, and assigns the ad a score from 0 to 5.9 Stars. 

Given the huge expense of advertising during the Super Bowl, with spots costing over $7 million for a 30-second ad, it is in a brand’s best financial interest to get as much out of its investment as possible. Over the years we have seen social media channels and platforms such as YouTube deliver significant added views and engagement before, during and after the game, making it a huge touchdown for brands who release their spots in advance.

In 2023, 41 ads were released early, while 21 ads debuted in the game. The early releases had a slight edge, averaging 2.93 Stars while in-game debuts averaged 2.92 Stars. And while four of the top five ads (Disney, M&M’s, Amazon, Jeep) debuted in the game, the other six in the top 10 (T-Mobile, Michelob, Paramount+, The Farmer’s Dog, Bud Light and Popcorners) were released beforehand. 

 One of the advantages that early releases tap into is familiarity because fluent devices (recurring characters and situations) trigger positive emotional responses from viewers. For example, Popcorners stoked nostalgia with its “Breaking Bad” spoof, and going early with the popular characters created serious social momentum that boosted the ad’s impact during the game. The Farmer’s Dog got a similar benefit from building an audience over time for its storyline on a live character; ads featuring dogs consistently beat the average. 

Similarly, what’s funny gets shared and shared on social media widely, creating a ramp way for acceleration during the Big Game hoopla. For most brands, that extended ramp is essential to getting the most out of the price for advertising in the game. 

Debuting in the game itself puts extra pressure on creative elements. Disney, M&M’s, Amazon and Jeep made it work with ads that incorporated cultural references, characters, humor and music masterfully. They resonated with pop culture. The other 17 in-game debuts didn’t do as well, and could have benefited from audience anticipation. 

It’s natural to hold Apple 1984 as an ideal – debuting in the Super Bowl to create an instant sensation – but most ads aren’t that epic. And it’s not 1984 – a time when social media did not exist. For most advertisers, the rampway that early release enables will generate social relevance and familiarity that increase the ad’s impact. With brands increasingly needing ads to generate social currency, it pays to prepare the audience. 


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