Text Analytics Picks the 10 Strongest Super Bowls Ads

Tom H. C. Anderson
February 10th, 2017

New Text Analytics PollTM Shows Which Super Bowl Ads Really Performed Best

Well, it’s been five days since the Super Bowl, and pretty much everyone has cranked out a “definitive” best-and-worst ad list or some sort of top 10 ranking. And frankly, I think a lot of them are based on the wrong metrics.

Without a doubt, what makes a Super Bowl ad great differs from what makes a “normal” ad great. So what exactly qualifies a Super Bowl ad as a success or failure?

We could look at purchase consideration or intent, likelihood to recommend, or any of a dozen or more other popular advertising metrics, but that’s not what Super Bowl advertising effectiveness is really about.

Word of mouth has always been a big one and nowadays that means social media buzz. But does buzz equate to success? Ask the folks at Budweiser or Lumber 84.

Bottom line: This is a very expensive reach buy, first and foremost, and it’s a branding exercise.  I’ve shelled out $5 million (plus production costs) for 30 seconds to make a lasting and largely unconscious impression on the world’s biggest television audience.

As far as I’m concerned there need only be three objectives then:

  1. I want you to remember the ad;
  2. I want you to remember it’s my ad;
  3. I want you to feel positive about it.

Whether or not my ad met all of these criteria can be answered with one single unstructured question in a Text Analytics PollTM and quickly be analyzed by NLP software like OdinText with more valid results than any multiple-choice instrument.

Why a Text Analytics PollTM ?

Using a Likert scale to assess recall or awareness will only provide an aided response; I can’t ask you about an ad or brand without mentioning it. So I don’t really know if the ad was actually that memorable. And while a quantitative instrument can tell me whether or not you liked or disliked an ad, it also won’t tell me why.

Conversely, I can get the “why” from traditional qualitative tools like focus groups or IDIs, but not only would those insights be time-consuming, labor-intensive and expensive to gather, they wouldn’t be quantified.

But if I ask you to just tell me what you remember in your own words using a comment box, I can find out which ad was truly memorable, ascertain whether or not you truly recall the brand, determine whether the ad left a positive or negative impression on you and get a much deeper understanding of why. I can achieve all of this using one open-ended question. And with text analytics software like OdinText, I can quantify these results.

Which Super Bowl Ads Did “Best”?

We asked a random, gen pop sample of n=4,535 people (statistics with a confidence interval of +/- 1.46) one simple question:

“What Super Bowl ad stood out the most to you and why?”

Author’s note: We ran this survey Sunday night and closed it Monday night. We were originally planning to post the results on Tuesday, but decided to postpone it in favor of sharing what we felt were more pressing results from a Text Analytics PollTM we had conducted around President Trump’s immigration ban.

As you can see in the table below, this one simple question told us everything we needed to know…

Top 10 Super Bowl Ads: Memorability of Ad & Brand, and Degree of Positive Sentiment

The following ads are ranked according to memorability—respondents’ unaided recall of both the ad and the brand—accompanied by positive/negative sentiment breakout (blue for positive, orange for negative) in reverse order.
Author’s note: The verbatim examples included here are [sic]

#10 Pepsi

 

 

As the sponsor of the Lady Gaga halftime show, one might expect Pepsi to do very well, but Lady Gaga may have literally stolen the show from Pepsi! In fact, the halftime show was actually mentioned more often in the comment data than Pepsi, and the two were infrequently mentioned together. Meanwhile, Pepsi’s ads were relatively unmemorable and much of the awareness we saw was in the form of negative sentiment.

Author’s note: Interestingly, social media monitoring services like Sprinkler had reported Pepsi “owned” the Super Bowl ad chatter on social media. I’ll say it not for the first time: social media (aka Twitter) can be full of spam often generated by agents of the brand.

 

#9 Buick

This is a case where the star of the ad, Cam Newton, didn’t eclipse the sponsor. People liked the pro footballer playing with the little kids and the tie-in to football seemed to work well. We saw this with Tom Brady in a different ad, too.

Buick with Cam Newton, cute and funny

I like the Buick ad because it let a bunch of kids play football with Cam Newton.

So what’s not to like, you say? How did it garner even a 13% unfavorable rating?

cam newton pushed little kids

The buick commercial, the concept was boring

Buick, it was not even funny

 

#8 Skittles

 

Skittles, made my kids laugh

The Skittles ad because it was funny and sort of relate-able. It shows how far one is willing to do something for someone.

Humor generally always does well, so what’s not to like?

The skittles commercial it made no sense

skittles, stupid with the burglar

Skittles, it was creepy. And what was with the gopher at the end?

 

#7 T-Mobile

Popular and a little risqué… [Note Also, Sprint Ads were often mis-remembered as T-Mobile, perhaps Halo effect and a reason Sprint didn’t make the Top 10…]

The T-Mobile ‘fake your own death to escape Verizon bill’ it was very funny, and got its point across very well

T-mobile. very funny parodying 50 shades of gray to Verizon ‘screwing its customers!’

T-Mobile with Justin. Maybe because I’m a T-Mobile subscriber? Or Justin Bieber was dressed so well in a suit, and then he starts dancing and jumping like a maniac. The contrast makes it funny.

T mobile add where guy faking death. Most memorable. Light hearted. Got point across.

BUT not everyone is a Belieber

The t mobile justin biber. It was kinda lame

T-Mobile w/Justin Bieber – inane, juvenile, bordering on insulting

T-Mobile Unlimited Moves. It wasnt funny and Justin Bieber looked like the six flags guy.

T-Mobile, awkward dancing as they attempted to appeal to teenagers

 

#6  Audi

Audi took on gender equality with an appeal to fathers of daughters. The resulting ad was memorable in 6th place:

The audi one because it was meaningful

Audi – moving story and loved the message of what to tell daughters!

Audi. I have a daughter

Audi – moving story and loved the message of what to tell daughters!

However, not everyone liked mixing politics or social issues with their football (as we will see again for some of the other top ads):

AUDI and 84 Lumber. Keep your political message out of my entertainment

Least liked Audi because it was a liberal ad

 

#5 Coca-Cola

Ironically, even without sponsoring the halftime show, Coca-Cola beat Pepsi.

The coke commercial was really meaningful and symbolic

Coca Cola because of the embracing of diversity

Coca Cola True portrayal of America’s diversity

The coke ad. I liked the pro-refugee stance.

coke america is beautiful commercial, very admirable

Coca Cola Commercial because it’s all about being connected

Coke , showing we are still interconnected regardless of ethnicity

I liked the coca cola ad at the very beginning. I’ve seen it before but I think the message is so powerful and the commercial is beautifully executed.

But the ad was not received well by many, likely in part due to the politically-charged climate. Several advertisers ran messages that struck people as being politically biased or advancing a political agenda—something not everyone cared for…

Didn’t appreciate Coca Cola trying to make a political statement

I didn’t like the Coke commercial. They showed it two years ago and the year before.

Google and Coke because they shoved their political views into my face.

 

#4 Mr. Clean

Who would have predicted MR. Clean for fourth place? The brand made good use of humor, and it stood out from the other ads by targeting women (but appealed to members of both genders).

Mr clean, it was funny – Female

Mr. Clean because I’m bald –  Male

Mr. Clean, relatable, memorable, hilarious. -Female

The Mr. Clean commercial, it was funny, tasty, and got the point across. Incredibly well done ad. – Male

Mr clean because my wife pointed it out – Male

mr clean because it relates to family, and parents that stay at home and clean. it was family friendly – Female

mr clean everything else sucked – Gender Not Specified

Some men though didn’t see the humor and or get the point, calling it “weird”. It wasn’t really that they disliked it intensely; they just felt it wasn’t for them.

 

#3 Lumber 84

Not many had heard of this company before the Super Bowl, but I’ll bet you know who they are now. The third most memorable ad, yes, but more than half of those who remembered it had nothing nice to say!

First, among those who liked the ad:

It was so touching

Audi, 84 lumber, both showed compassionate ads

84 lumber – it’s the only one I can remember

84 Lumber – Showed what America is actually supposed to be.

they were obviously trying to get across a non- traditional message that didn’t seem to be advertising. Also it was beautifully and compellingly produced.

Lumber 84 showed that not everyone wants a wall and that we understand there is power in diversity.

But the execution confused people and whatever the intention, the sponsor stepped into a controversy. Here the emotional sentiment (particularly anger) ran high and was prevalent in comments like “romanticized crime” and “forced politics”:

The Journey 84 ad, it just left me confused

The 84 lumber commercial. It didn’t make sense

it was about illegals sneaking into America, i won’t be shopping their anymore

Lumber 84 because it was politically offensive

84 lumber, clearly a political statement and uncalled for

84 lumber, Made no sense, Not going to look something up

#2 Kia

Ironically, with other brands going serious and political, Kia poked some fun with help from Melissa McCarthy. Kia’s investment in humor and McCarthy paid off in a big way, scoring the highest combination of memorability and positive sentiment, although to an extent the comedian eclipsed the brand.

Loved melissa McCarthy because she is hilarious and i love her.

Kia it was funny and not somber like most the others

The Buick one, the world of tanks ones and the eco friendly Melissa one because they were the funniest

The one with Melissa McCarthy because it made me laugh

KIA becuase it didn’t feel like it was trying to sell me anything, just entertain with brand placement

 

#1 Budweiser

Yes, Budweiser took first place in terms of recall, but the perception of a political bent cost the king of beers. The ad, which featured one of the founders struggling as an immigrant, was apparently in the works before the Trump Immigration Order controversy. But even if that was the case, by choosing to air it Budweiser took a risk.

Likes:

I liked the Budweiser commercial reminded us all that not all white Europeans were always welcome in the US.

Budweiser. I love the reminder that we are all immigrants

Budweiser immigration. Shows Trump is an idiot, but we all know that

The Budweiser ad about how they were founded by an immigrant, because it was actually relevant to their company history

Budweiser, it was a beautiful immigrant’s tale. Not overtly political

The Budweiser commercial because it shows what a true immigrant had to go through and even though many people thought it was to take a shot at Trump’s travel ban it had nothing to do with it.

Dislikes:

Budweiser. Too liberal.

budweiser, too pro immigration

bud, adolfus was not ILLEGAL !

The Budweiser ad about immigration. Too political.

Budweiser, they shot themselves in the foot being that the man who immigrated into the U.S. did so legally.

Budweiser. Football/all sports should not involve politics. We need to relax sometimes.

So…who won?

Isn’t it obvious? I’d say Kia. Sure, Budweiser scored higher unaided awareness, but a significant portion of that was negative.

But it’s all in the data, what do you think?

A Final Note on Text Analytics PollsTM 

It occurred to me in writing this post that about 11 years ago almost to the day I predicted that the survey of the future would be a one-question open-end, because that’s all people really want to tell you, and that’s all you’ll need.

Turns out I may have been right.

This week, we’ve shared results from three such surveys, a technique we’ve dubbed “Text Analytics PollTM .

These incredibly short, one-question polls allow us to field quickly to large samples with minimal burden on the respondent. And text analysis software such as OdinText enables us to quantify these huge quantities of comments.

But the real advantage to using text analytics polls is that the responses tell us so much more than whether someone agrees/disagrees or likes/dislikes. Using text analytics we can uncover why from respondents in their own words.

Thanks again for reading!

@TomHCAnderson @OdinText

Could a text analytics poll answer your burning marketing questions?  Contact us to see if a single-question open-ended survey makes sense for you!

 

About Tom H. C. Anderson

Tom H. C. Anderson is the founder and managing partner of OdinText, a venture-backed firm based in Stamford, CT whose eponymous, patented SAS platform is used by Fortune 500 companies like Disney, Coca-Cola and Shell Oil to mine insights from complex, unstructured and mixed data. A recognized authority and pioneer in the field of text analytics with more than two decades of experience in market research, Anderson is the recipient of numerous awards for innovation from industry associations such as CASRO, ESOMAR and the ARF. He was named one of the “Four under 40” market research leaders by the American Marketing Association in 2010. He  tweets under the handle @tomhcanderson.

 

 

 

7 thoughts on “Text Analytics Picks the 10 Strongest Super Bowls Ads”

  1. It was a Sprint ad that involved the Dad faking his own death to get out of a contract, not a T-Mobile ad. This analysis should control for people misremembering ads.

  2. Interesting point @Sam
    That can very easily be controlled for in OdinText/with text analytics. However this analysis is at the brand level. And in aggregate comparisons between brands wash out. And of course, mis-remembering is a problem that you want to identify and tr to quantify. Probably part of reason why Sprint didn’t make our Top 10 😉

  3. Great post Tom and team! Clearly a lot can be done by using unstructured data. I know many “traditional” researchers balk at this approach, since, in the bad old days, unstructured data were hard to use, hard to process and hard to analyze. However, with the new tools and approaches available today, any researcher who can’t see the immense benefit of a one-question, open-ended survey leveraging these technologies is going to be very unhappy in the near future.

  4. Thanks Eric! Yes, I intend to blog more about the idea od one question surveys being the norm rather than the exception. In my opinion, two of the most important marketing research specific blog posts I ran last year were ‘True Confessions of a Marketing Researcher’: http://odintext.com/blog/ignoring-customer-comments-a-disturbing-trend/ and ‘Researchers Say Open-Ends Are Critical’: http://odintext.com/blog/five-reasons-to-never-design-a-survey-without-a-comment-field/
    It’s frustrating to see 25% of researchers, smart people, be so stupid about data, and think that the key to the universe lies in a dumb 5 or 11 point likert scale. Nonsense! (and the two aren’t mutually exclusive btw)

  5. Budweiser, one of the few remaining quintessential American brands, now owned by Belgian-Brazilian conglomerate InBev,,invests in a politically tinged ad using one of the most expensive spot-buys around. Anyone anywhere in the decision pipeline from InBev through Bud Brand Mgmt/Agency and the researchers involved who did not voice unconditional opposition to airing the ad should be severely admonished, and should wear the scar on their careers with humility. Why alienate what amounts to 50% of U.S. voters ( and likely more than 50% of the Super Bowl audience)??

    As Mama Gump was wont to say, “stupid is as stupid does.”

    Keep inclusiveness and politics out of Brand Management. Coke’s “World” ad was catchy but it wasn’t aired when the same world was under a backlash to that sentiment. Belgians and Brazilians aside, keep socio-politics out of my beer and football…neither of which translate accurately to either Brazilian nor Belgian. American soccer dads do not drink Bud.

    Kia? Riiiight! Good ad, research sayz. Mighta dun more for Kia than the Bud ad did for inBev, eh? The Bud ad may have helped Kia help Kia.

  6. Terrific article, Tom. I disagreed with most respondents (I was not a fan of the, to me, asinine Kia commercial), but with over 15 years in market research am intrigued by the statistical analysis done here. You have made this very insightful and entertaining.

  7. @Tom.

    Fair point. But consider this. One of your verbatims was, “T mobile add where guy faking death. Most memorable. Light hearted. Got point across.” As I said, it was the Sprint ad that involved a guy faking his death. Isn’t it worth noting that someone misremembered an ad that they said was the “most memorable?” I also noticed that two of the four verbatims you posted made this mistake. So while I agree with the logic that in aggregate these mistakes get washed out, sometimes that logic might not make sense. For example, when 50% of people misremember an ad. Anyways, something to think about.

    Sam

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