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And the winner is…

February 18, 2009

So, there is general agreement, in our area of the ad world at least, that the SuperBowl commercials this year were a bit…disappointing. While they didn’t suck by any means, they didn’t seem to have the staying power that ads have had in the years passed. So when the smoke cleared at the ratings began to surface, there was little attention paid, at least by me. I was enticed, however, by a persistent research vendor to take a look at their SuperBowl study, and was intrigued by the results. You’re telling me that Ed McMahon and MC Hammer were this year’s big winners? Parachute pants, oversize checks and DRTV beats out the Clydesdales and cute talking babies? In what world (or time period) was this study conducted?


I read on. The study was conducted on earth. And in 2009. However, it utilized a unique methodology that I am not personally familiar with (save the giant literature review of 2008) Innerscope Research is the firm, and they specialize in a technique that utilizes physiological monitors such as eye tracking, heart rate monitoring, respiration and perspiration to gauge emotional response to advertisements. It was in their study that Cash4Gold nabbed, along with the Career Builder spot, grabbed spots #1 and #2, respectively.


Because I would not have named the Cash4Gold spot in any top 10 list, I wanted to see where the others ads were stacking up in other polls. Here are some of the highlights. You’ll see that the winners range from movie premiers, to user generated content, to DRTV.


According the USA Today Ad Meter poll, the consumer generated Doritos spot was number one this year, a coveted position for any advertiser to take. The Ad Meter tracks the second-by-second responses of a panel of viewers of the ads during SuperBowl and ranks them from best to worst.


YouTube also crowned Doritos the big winner in the YouTube Ad Blitz, a special section it created to showcase Super Bowl commercials. The “Free Doritos” commercial took top honors with voters. (YouTube declined to say how many votes it received.) It was also named a “favorite” 4,700 times by viewers, garnered over 800,000 total site views and drew more than 1,200 comments. And the prize for coming in first? Prime placement on the YouTube homepage. Some may argue that’s better than placement in any Ad Meter.


ComScore also identified Doritos as the brand that got the most out of the game’s commercials in its survey Doritos scored a 42 percent net improvement of brand impression, beating out Bud/Bud Light’s 40 percent bump and Denny’s 39 percent gain. ComScore is a leader in measuring the digital world, and conducts tow annual Super Bowl surveys, one conducted prior to the game (1,003 U.S. Internet users surveyed on Jan. 26-27, 2009) and one conducted after the game (1,042 U.S. Internet users surveyed on Feb. 3-4, 2009), to understand people’s expected and actual behaviors on game day, as well as their attitudes with respect to the Super Bowl advertisements.


Networked Insights, a provider of customer intelligence across social media, ranked TeleFlora and Cash4Gold as #1 and #2. This was their first SuperBowl study ever, and they were measuring for what they call Social ROI, defined in the study as the increase in social interactions online for each $1 million spent on Super Bowl ad spots. At the bottom the list? Flashy super brands GE, Audi and Toyota. To gather data for this Measuring the Social Report, Networked Insights tapped more than 17,000 social media and social networking sites, which included 3.5 million conversations per day and over 120 million unique users.


In addition to determining Social ROI, Networked Insights also ranked the top 10 advertisements from the Super Bowl based on online interactions with Bridgestone’s “Potato Heads” commercial taking the top spot. Compared to USA Today’s Ad Meter chart, Networked Insights’ list showed six commercials with high engagement that did not appear in the Ad Meter results.


In an interesting side note, TNS crowned the movie studios as king, measuring for the spots that dominated online buzz after the SuperBowl in the first 36 hours following the game: five of the ten most-discussed advertisers were movies. Almost half of the discussion of Super Bowl ads took place on social media sites focused on movies, video games, and entertainment news And while Doritos may have won in many other polls, it was KO’d by Anheuser-Busch which did the best of all non-movie advertisers in the amount of discussion generated by their ads.


This range of winners lends itself to a discussion that has been surfacing lately in the lair regarding communication objectives and appropriate research metrics. The fact that a spot can be deemed #1 in one study and in the bottom of another is just a clear example of how important it is to be clear and specific in what the communication is meant to achieve before throwing it into a research study that is testing for multiple measures, or else they may risk getting the absolute wrong answers.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. Crystal permalink*
    February 19, 2009 12:23 am

    Terrific post and great examples to illustrate the ongoing dialogue we’re having in The Lair and with our clients. I think it’s more and more clear that the most important thing we do is make sure we’re asking the right questions before we try to answer them. The various SuperBowl findings illustrate there might have been multiple winners. It depends on the definition of winning. And which definition of winning matters most to the business. It is possible to meet or exceed objectives for a commercial and lose one of these horse races. Or win a horse race with a spot that doesn’t meet or exceed objectives. Doritos wanted to win the Ad Meter poll so bad they had a $1 million incentive bonus attached to it. That spot met its stated objective definitively. So it’s a winner for sure. I wonder if the other winners “won” as obviously as Doritos based on what they were trying to do. Denny’s did well on brand improvement but the commentary from the brand was all about how happy they were with restaurant turnout. That seems to be what mattered to them. If they hadn’t had lines out the door, would the movement on brand measures and buzz have given them comfort? Good thinkable about measuring what matters.

  2. marypatanselm permalink
    February 19, 2009 3:27 pm

    Kimber, you are so smart. Now, I am going to write about a certain Kittens video.

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