February 13, 2024
7 mins

Why buffalo wings and ranch sauce are the true champions of the 2024 Super Bowl

Could the real focus of the 2024 Super Bowl be on the saucy snacks, halftime performance and moments destined for the meme hall of fame?

That time of the year has already been and gone… 

The trail of new, effusive ads could paint the whole of Times Square in ethereal American red, white and blue.

With an average Super Bowl commercial costing up to $7 million USD, you’d be right to ask, “what exactly are advertisers striving to achieve with these gigantic, budget-draining investments?”

And the short answer is simple: Tapping into cult-fan followership, sports-fueled endorsements and the visibility that comes with prime-time television. 

This year more than 110 million viewers (roughly one third of the overall U.S. population) were expected to tune in and enjoy America’s most-watched annual TV event. 

But, why can’t we get enough? Do we unleash suppressed football fandom just once per year? Are we obsessed with halftime performances? Or is it just the perfect opportunity to enjoy a table full of snacks and devilishly good sauces among friends… 

To answer the big question and shake up the 2024 coverage, we tapped into Harris QuestDIY — Stagwell Marketing Cloud’s AI-powered survey builder to create, target and deploy quality surveys at speed — to clue in on what’s floating the SB crowd’s boat.

In fewer than 24 hours from the game airing, we leveraged the platform to better understand what really makes the Super Bowl so entertaining for the American general population. 

Let’s see what the  results had to say. 

The meme hall of fame 

It happens every year…Those candid moments, the unexpected dancing left shark, celebrity slipgate or a show-stopping power blackout…Could we secretly be tuning in to watch the next big disaster — or comedy-gold — unfold? 

We found that 8.5% of American viewers tune in for the meme factor alone.

And so we decided to clue in on the memability hype and asked the public to rank their favorite memes from the 2024 Super Bowl: 

In first place was Travis Kelce’s contemporanean take on Edward Munch—which scored almost twice as high (33%) amongst male respondents than it did with female viewers (17%).

Yet on the flipside, Usher breaking a sweat was the overall favorite meme for women (22%), scoring 2.4x higher than it did amongst male counterparts.

Usher also ranked highest amongst the overall Gen-Z population (23%), but was in a close race against SpongeBob & Patrick’s live commentating on Nickelodeon (22%); a score that was much higher for Gen-Z than with participants from other age groups (10% on average).

Swift surveys

Taylor this, Taylor that. The nation must have heard just about every rumor possible about what America’s latest sweetheart was going to be wearing, eating, singing and dancing about…

But when it comes down to Super Bowl airtime, something that I didn’t expect to see is that there is a limit to the new-wave Taylordom, and 45% of Americans think that Taylor Swift received a bit too much airtime. 

45% of Americans think that Taylor Swift had too much airtime.

In contrast, only 6% of respondents thought that the game was lacking in Swift airwaves, and—rather amusingly—2% confirmed that there are still people out there who do not know who the Grammy Award-winning veteran is. Wow. 

Super-size Super Bowl 

As the old adage goes—go big, or go home. Yet the real beauty of the Super Bowl is that you can also go big at home, and if there’s too much food on the table then it’s time to host a party.

It’s reported that more than 75,000 tons of avocados were to be imported in the US for the Super Bowl…Meaning that either guacamole or 7-layer dip should have been the centerpiece of most tables this year.

But despite this exorbitant demand, ripe avocados clearly aren’t a US favorite on snack tables. According to QuestDIY  survey data, it’s the buffalo wings that are the real crowd pleasers. 

The winning Super Bowl combo is buffalo wings and soda. 

We dove a little deeper into the analysis on what people are drinking at the Super Bowl—and it appeared that not many people are reaching for cider. In fact, amongst the 65+ crowd, hard cider received 0 responses.

What’s more is that the younger generation appear to be the most responsible drinkers with a total of 45% of Gen-Z keeping hydrated with water and 56% reaching for soda (the average amongst other age groups being 36% and 47% respectively). This could, however, be a result of the legal drinking age being 21+.

Unsurprisingly, the most consumed alcoholic beverage was beer, which scored higher amongst men (45%) than it did amongst women (27%). Perhaps that explains the ubiquity of the primetime beer ads? 

Making it saucy 

The underdog of umami is a great sauce. If you have a bad hot dog, just add a ton of mustard. If you’re tired of your salad, slather it in blue cheese dressing. And last, but not least, if you’re not having a great time watching the Super Bowl—add a big dash of ranch sauce all over the TV. 

42% of women voted Ranch as their go-to sauce, compared to 27% of men.

Here’s a breakdown of the sauces that were most popular this year.

Getting into jumbo formation

With more than 110 million viewers, the popularity of the Super Bowl is as healthy as ever…And the younger generation is definitely still tuning in. But, are they watching for the same reasons? 

We analyzed the demographic of Gen-Zs tuning in, versus the demographic of adults over 65 years old,  and found that only 40% of Gen-Z is following the Super Bowl for the main event (the game itself). The viewership figure was almost twice as high for the 65+ generation (79%).

Only 40% of Gen-Z is following the Super Bowl for the main event.

5 years of top performers 

Despite ranking high for memability, Usher—who was supported on stage by Alicia Keys, Will.i.am and Ludacris—was not the top performance of the last five years, according to respondents. 

It was a close call, but Usher couldn’t skate his way to the top, and made way for the halftime performance champions of the quinquennial: Dr. Dre, Eminem, Mary J. Blige and Snoop Dogg.

Usher couldn’t skate his way to the top.

The conclusion to be drawn from this is that celebrity cameos work well at driving likeability, and 3 out of 5 of the best-scoring performances are the ones with surprise collaborations. 

Rounding it up

Confession time. 

I couldn’t watch the game this year—I was on a long-haul flight out of NY. But I did watch the highlights, the ads and the halftime performance (several times, “take that—rewind it back”). 

And what I do know is that an overwhelming 91% of the population watching the Super Bowl rated it positively. 40% of viewers ‘loved it’ and more than 60% of responders thought that this year’s Super Bowl was the best of the last 5 years.

Only 2% of the crowd hated it.

And zooming in on the real drivers of the Super Bowl appeal, the game itself is still very much at the heart of the show for the majority (64%) of viewers. But this interest is slightly declining amongst the younger audiences. 

Only 16% of viewers weren’t rooting for any team in particular, which shows that fandom is still at large and people are still tapping into the cultural zeitgeist of sport.

Over the next few years, we’ll be keeping a close eye on whether there is a shift in focus on super bowl favorites, from the game (64%) to halftime performance (17%), commercials (11%) and memes (8%).

About the survey 

Using QuestDIY to create, target and deploy quality surveys at speed, Stagwell generated insights fewer than 24 hours after the game’s conclusion and within three hours of fielding to capture viewers’ perceptions around the hot topics, trends and memes surrounding Super Bowl 58. 

QuestDIY enables creating, targeting, and deploying surveys at speed, enabling brands and other marketing organizations to capture feedback from customers and audiences faster than ever, and to leverage generative AI to build surveys in line with industry best practices. Visit here to learn more.

Survey methodology 

Stagwell Marketing Cloud’s Super Bowl post-game survey was conducted online within the United States and completed on Monday, Feb. 12, 2024, among 1,000 respondents over 18 years, representative of the population based on age, gender, and region, by Harris QuestDIY.

Daniel Purnell

Daniel Purnell is the Marketing Manager for Stagwell Marketing Cloud.

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