Hitting the Cultural Jackpot: The Trends that Earned the Spotlight at the Big Game 

Jackie Cox Battles

New York Consumer Brand Practice Lead, North America Consumer Brand Practice Growth Lead

Published

There was a lot more on the line at last night’s Big Game than the win itself — sorry, but also congrats, Taylor’s boyfriend. As any marketer will tell you, it’s the attention of 100 million-plus viewers that’s the real touchdown.  

 

This year, the competition for that attention was bigger and flashier than ever before. And not just on the field. With the glitz and glam of Viva Las Vegas setting the stage, even before kickoff, group chats were buzzing about the Queen of Country’s absolute smash performance, Gronk missing his live-streamed field goal for Fan Duel and Tay Tay with her squad. The nail-biter, overtime game kept our eyes glued to the TV until the very end.  

 

The stakes were high, the cost per ad spot was higher, and despite what they say, what happened in Vegas definitely did not stay in Vegas. Brands were earning their way into the cultural moods and moments yes through the ads, but more so through the buzz and conversations that continued long after the 30-second spots ended. Here’s what we’re still talking about today.  

 

Nostalgia is still king: Loving things that are old, isn’t getting old any time soon. Nostalgia still wins hearts and comforts anxious people everywhere — just consider how viral this year’s outta-your-mind halftime performance was, thanks to decades-spanning bops and special performances. Every other video on our FYP was people getting up and getting down to the beat! The feel-good hits kept coming with nostalgia-infused spots (hello, Ross and Rachel — we remember you being friends), and don’t even get me STARTED on that Volkswagen Beetle ad, which turned the dash clock back in time and made the internet scream “punch buggy!”  

 

We’re hungry for connection: I was touched by some of the poignant moments throughout the night, starting with the high school football team from Lahaina, Hawaii who was invited to lead the coin toss. I’m always speechless and motivated after seeing the important work from our partners at the Foundation to Combat Antisemitism. And the Google Pixel ad had everyone in my living room — and on my feeds — in tears. No matter how divisive the world may feel, it was a heartwarming reminder that connecting with our communities and lending an empathetic hand should always be what matters most.   

 

It’s all in good fun: Aside from the serious moments last night, we can all agree that America is in need of a few moments of levity. Brands were rising to this challenge by bringing the laughs in a big way with the funniest faces in the biz. Client Anheuser-Busch brought the Bud Light Genie and an extra dose of magic with the world’s most famous foot dazzling audiences while he waited for his Michelob ULTRA. Was there a celebrity we DIDN’T see last night? On TikTok and X, people were buzzing about the iconic reunion of Boston’s Besties, and Weber Shandwick client OREO also got in on the fun by putting a twist on historical moments — rewriting history to showcase the “Twist On It”(which side is the creme on?) as the factor behind famous decisions, like the Trojan Horse entering Troy and everyone’s favorite momager’s decision to agree to KUWTK.  

 

Doing double duty with digital: It used to be only about what was happening on our television screens. These days, many brands are not only forgoing the traditional TV ad, but they’re bringing Big Game experiences to digital-only spaces. And I’m not only talking about the influx of QR-coded spots following Coinbase’s 2022 smash — we’re seeing plays made in places like the metaverse, using AR and VR. Plus, everyone in favor of Beyonce-I say “aye” with me, especially after that mic-drop music moment (yeehaw!).   

 

Instead of going the commercial route, our clients at Avocados from Mexico launched a generative AI platform for the game to help consumers hosting at home. And client SNICKERS’ Rookie Mistake AR Experience allowed future-forward fans with Apple Vision Pro headsets to practice kicking field goals or glean wisdom on their rookie mistakes from the all-knowing football oracle, the “misfortune teller” of the men of steel.  

 

Though the night is over, and a championship team is crowned, the cultural plays from the Big Game have just begun. I, for one, know cultural moves this big will fuel feeds and memes for weeks to come. No end game here. It’s an earned-first marketer’s wildest dream.