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Which Brands Got Their Money’s Worth During the Super Bowl and Which Brands Did Not?

Last night, the Kansas City Chiefs executed an amazing come-from-behind victory to win Super Bowl 54, but they were not the only winners, and the 49ers were not the only losers on the night.

Super Bowl Sunday has become a near holiday for millions of Americans across the country. Outside of football fans in Kansas City and San Francisco, though, no one was looking forward to the Super Bowl more than advertisers around the country who poured blood, sweat, tears, and overtime hours into bringing big-budget commercials in the hopes of creating the next viral trend.

From the Budweiser frogs, Clydesdales, puppies, and dudes yelling “Wazzup,” to Snickers and Betty White, to Volkswagen’s force-wielding Darth Vader kid, there are always a few ads that really break out and become sensations across the country, but not every commercial can be the next hit ad.

Last year’s Super Bowl was the first in years to have below 100 million viewers, and even though this year the number of viewers rose, that $5.6 million price tag is still looming large. That same money could buy a brand over 850 million impressions in billboards or around 1.4 BILLION impressions on Twitter. So why is it that they are willing to fork over that money on something with a much smaller ROI? The answer lies in the social aspect of the Super Bowl, millions of Americans over the years claim they are “only watching the game for the commercials,” and that translates to huge spikes in conversation both in-person and online. The estimated social impressions on Sunday concerning the Super Bowl alone were estimated to break 4 BILLION impressions. Some brands dream of being the next hit ad that people talk about for years. Others want to introduce a new product to millions of people, and others just want the prestige of having a Super Bowl Commercial in advertising’s expensive version of “keeping up with the Joneses.”

Last night I took to the Social Media Command Center Twitter account to examine the chatter in real-time, but today I want to really focus on the winners and losers of the 12 hours since the commercials aired. To do this, I looked at Twitter analytics, examining over 40 brands to see who got their money’s worth and who might have been better off with a mixed-media campaign. If you’re looking for more discussion on the car companies and movie trailers, I will do a breakdown for each on posts that you can check out on Wednesday Here and Here.

Brands Who Did Great

Five brands really seemed to have broken away over the course of the night to show that they may have gotten their money’s worth.

Jeep had amazing impressions all day with over 114 thousand posts on Twitter alone, a 500% increase from their normal chatter. And this was not just a one time spike. Throughout the night, their spot was the talk of Twitter, and that talk continued into Monday morning. Their topical commercial using Bill Murray reprising his role in “Groundhog Day” on Groundhog Day was brilliant and his celebrity pull might have beaten out the dozens of celebrities that appeared on the small screen last night.

Planters was a breakout star of the Superbowl with Baby Mr. Peanut following in the footsteps of Baby Yoda to capture the wholesome cuteness corner of social media. It looked for a bit that Planters may not run with the spot after the tragic death of Kobe Bryant and his fellow passengers last Sunday. But the ad was an instant hit with over 150 thousand tweets yesterday, an increase of 6.4 THOUSAND percent over usual chatter. Sentiment scores tell a story of a somewhat controversial hashtag, along with a feed I cannot post without substantial censorship, but the debut of the “new” mascot was a hit.

Olay saw some instant success with their #MakeSpaceForWomen campaign with over 40 thousand posts with the hashtag in the first hour alone. While the brand didn’t have the staying power of Planters, it was still the first hit of the night. Sentiment scores have been dropping over time though, some women are saying they felt the ad painted them in a negative light despite an intended message of empowerment.

Google was the brand that pulled the most heartstrings last night, possibly making more people cry during their commercial than when Garoppolo through the game losing interception late in the 4th quarter. Coronavirus coverage was quickly overpowered by the beautiful story of how Google can keep memories alive. Google may be the biggest winner of the post-Superbowl buzz with conversation continuing into the late morning today. This is a great case of how we still have a way to go in calculating sentiment, the 52% negative sentiment is full of posts with cry-face emojis that aren’t necessarily negative. Emoji analysis is still evolving and may take a while to tell the full story.

Finally, a smaller brand that had a huge impact was Avocados from Mexico. This brand seemed to have captured industry attention more than any other brand with Salesforce, Adage, and AdWeek all talking about it. The commercial performed well despite its smaller size compared to the giants mentioned earlier, but its lasting power may not compare to the likes of Jeep or Planters.

Brands Who Did “Well”

Tide and parent company Procter & Gamble had a consistent presence all night. Tide’s sponsorship of the NFL and its strategy of buying a spot in every quarter with great crossovers helped keep people talking about it all night long. It was one of the few brands that saw social chatter increase over each of the four quarters. Procter & Gamble with their “Choose your own Adventure” style of ad saw decent buzz but was a flash in the pan compared to Tide.

Doritos was the lucky brand that brought in Rap/Country star and Grammy winner Lil Nas X with his Old Town Road inspired ad resulting in week-long dominance. #CoolRanchDance was a major hit and helped introduce the formula change to their Cool Ranch Doritos.

Pringles was a solid performer with a 350% increase in conversation throughout Sunday. Their “Rick and Morty” advertisement played into the Adult Swim Audience that is frequently catered to by other brands. This comes with a bit of rebranding recently by Pringles with a focus on “out there” flavors.

For such a routine and “boring” brand, TurboTax had great presence, their #W2Step ad was trending for a bit, and they saw a 600% increase in conversation. Besides reminding me that I need to do my taxes, they did a great job of taking GoDaddy’s place as the somewhat boring brand with a great Super Bowl showing.

Sabra and their ad featuring 19 different celebrities from YouTube, TikTok, Music, Television, and Cinema resulted in a nice push for the hummus brand. They saw a 797% increase in chatter, but their talk was mainly about their celebrities, not the brand. It would be interesting to see if people are able to recall what the commercial was for. This, combined with their influencers routinely misspelling the hashtag are the main reason I kept them in the “Did Well” category.

Hyundai had one of the most quote-worthy commercials, and I do think there is a chance “Smaht Pahk” becomes the next “WAZZZUUUUP.” However, their social reach last night pales in comparison to their social reach from the Grammys where they were talked about for their relationship with Korean Pop Supergroup BTS. While “Smaht Pahk” was big with American audiences, the Korean car brand had nearly twice as many worldwide Twitter posts 2 days after the Grammys than they did posts in America on Super Bowl Sunday.

Brands Who Did “Not So Well”

Quibi took a significant risk airing a Super Bowl commercial months before their app can even be downloaded. The platform focusing on mobile short episodic series did not get much traction last night. While they saw a 216% increase in chatter, they saw fewer than 2,000 tweets during the Super Bowl with many of the tweets asking what Quibi was.

Squarespace was another brand that just didn’t get any traction, being overshadowed by Hyundai, Cheetos, and Olay in the next commercial block will do that to you. They only saw a 128% increase in chatter, and I would usually excuse the company for being based around a more niche audience, but GoDaddy in the past and TurboTax this year showed that isn’t always the case.

Verizon spent a lot of money on the Superbowl airing multiple ads that tried to pull on the heartstrings of viewers. While they were talked about quite often, their sentiment score is problematic with many influential people tweeting that their commercial was hypocritical, showing what 5G can do for first responders after allegedly throttling data for Wildfire Firefighters until they paid more money. Overall, even without the negative sentiment, they only saw a 200% increase in chatter which doesn’t cut it for how much they paid.

Michelob was another company that spent money on two ads with little to show for it. They only saw a few thousand total posts in comparison to Budweiser, who saw tens of thousands of posts throughout the night. Their commercials were well received by advertisers, but time will tell if they were able to sell their new products and branding to the public at large.

Conclusion

While some companies got their money’s worth, others might have been better off reallocating that money within their budget. Time will tell if there was a payoff for most companies, but the first 24 hours can be indicative of whether the ads stand up to the test of time. There is also the question of whether these ads will pay off. It’s questionable whether Jeep will sell enough cars to make $6 million in profit based on this commercial, but the prestige of having a successful commercial may be what they were aiming for.

Overall, I expect Planters to see gains over the next month, there is a lot they can do with their new mascot, and I expect them to take advantage of that moving forward. Quibi is the brand I am most worried about, this was supposed to be their big reveal, but they may not have got their message across. Investors can’t be happy with the lack of engagement, but they have a few months before their launch to fix that.

Stay tuned for more Super Bowl Commercial posts coming over the next week!