Video case study: How Budweiser’s ‘Puppy Love’ ad won the Super Bowl ad battle

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Back in February 2014, Budweiser’s “Puppy Love” became the runaway winner of Super Bowl 2014. The cute commercial, which tells the story of an unlikely friendship between a horse and a puppy, was not only the most shared video online, but also the ad which attracted the most TV coverage. This case study from Unruly Media looks at how the commercial became an internet sensation- racking up over 50m YouTube views by within 3 months.

The ad has so far generated 1.31 million shares, according to data supplied by Unruly’s Viral Video Chart, making it the sixth most shared Super Bowl ad of all time. It crowned an incredible Super Bowl for the Anheuser–Busch InBev brand, which has now overtaken Volkswagen as the most shared online Super Bowl brand of all time** after also grabbing second spot with its ad “A Heroes’ Welcome”. Bud Light’s prankvert “Ian Up For Whatever” finished fifth. Axe’s “Make Love Not War” and Jaguar’s “British Villains’ Rendez-Vous” finished third and fifth respectively.

However, Budweiser’s domination has not been just online. According to data supplied by media tracking company Civolution***, in the US, “Puppy Love” appeared on national television channels 75 times prior to the game and on local broadcasts 1,200 times, which is nearly 4 times the next most popular ad, Volkswagen’s “Wings” commercial, with 318 local broadcasts.
The global appeal of Scarlett Johansson proved highly valuable for SodaStream on international television channels, leading to 755 broadcasts outside of the US. “Puppy Love” was the second most broadcast ad outside the US with 236 airings.

“Year after year we are seeing more Super Bowl ads being released ahead of the actual event. And it’s paying dividends in terms of reach for the brands,” said Andy Nobbs, CMO, Civolution. ‘’With ads being broadcast across the globe to millions of viewers who would not normally see the Super Bowl, this earned media is really maximising ROI and awareness for the brands.”
Puppy Love, created by Anomaly, benefited greatly from its early release date (January 29th, 2014).

It managed 1.14 million online shares before the game had even begun, which makes it the second most shared ad in Super Bowl history prior to kick-off.

“Brands are becoming more sophisticated in their approach towards the Super Bowl, leveraging PR and social sharing in advance of game day and amplifying their TV campaign on digital after the game is over in order to extend unique reach and continue the conversation with consumers,” said Sarah Wood, co-founder and COO at Unruly. “We’re seeing more brands adopting a flare and connect approach, using a tent pole TV event to deliver mass reach and using digital to drive incremental reach, amplify their TV activity, and make their content discoverable and easy to share 365 days of the year.”

Top 10 Most Shared Ads of Super Bowl 2014

1. Budweiser: “Puppy Love” - 1,309,403 shares
2. Budweiser: “A Heroes’ Welcome” - 202,556
3. Axe: “Make Love, Not War” - 136,282
4. Jaguar: “British Villains” - 125,896
5. Bud Light: “Ian Up For Whatever” - 123,418
6. Kia: “The Truth” - 106,491
7. VW: “Wings” - 104,906
8. Cheerios: “Gracie” - 100,173
9. Toyota: “Big Game Ad Starring Terry Crews and The Muppets” - 74,128
10. Chevrolet: Romance - 70,945

Top 5 National Broadcast & Cable Ads
1. Budweiser “Puppy Love” - 75 broadcasts
2. SodaStream “Sorry, Coke and Pepsi” - 64 broadcasts
3. Cheerios “Gracie” - 39 broadcasts
4. Volkswagen “Wings” - 29 broadcasts
5. Audi “Doberhuahua” - 23 broadcasts

Top 5 International Broadcast ads
1. SodaStream “Sorry, Coke and Pepsi” - 755 broadcasts
2. Budweiser “Puppy Love” - 236 broadcasts
3. Toyota “Big Game Ad Starring Terry Crews and The Muppets” - 143 broadcasts
4. Jaguar “British Villains” - 124 broadcasts
5. Audi “Doberhuahua” - 117 broadcasts

Top 5 Local Station Broadcast Ads
1. Budweiser “Puppy Love” - 1,200 broadcasts
2. Volkswagen “Wings” - 318 broadcasts
3. SodaStream “Sorry, Coke and Pepsi” - 273 broadcasts
4. Coca-Cola “Going All The Way” - 231 broadcasts
5. Cheerios “Gracie” - 209 broadcasts

Puppy Love’s domination means it’s the second year running that the beer brand has taken top spot. In 2013, Budweiser’s “Brotherhood” – the third most shared Super Bowl ad of all time - was the runaway winner, attracting 1.5 million shares by Super Bowl Monday. It has since racked up 2.84 million shares.

VW’s “Wings” finished seventh with 104,906 shares, while Audi’s “Doberhuahua”, Pepsi’s “There SInce The First Half Time” and Coca-Cola’s “It’s Beautiful” failed to make the top 10.

“This was the Super Bowl of love with ‘Puppy Love’ and Axe’s ‘Make Love Not War’ delivering the vast majority of the shares,” added Wood. “It’s a universal emotion which got cut through and drove sharing around the globe.”

Unruly Methodology

Unruly’s 2014 Super Bowl rankings are based on data from the Unruly Viral Video Chart™, which ranks videos by the number of shares they attract across Twitter, Facebook and the blogosphere as opposed to the number of views.

As such, it’s a true measure of a brand’s viral success, ranking branded content by the volume of active pass-on rather than the more passive metric of video consumption (views).
Shares stats were compiled on February 3, 2014 at 11am GMT.
** Based on Top 200 most shared Super Bowl ads of all time.

Civolution Methodology

Civolution uses the Teletrax platform to track earned and paid media for brands across 2,200 channels from more than 60 countries, including all 210 markets in the United States, representing all measured U.S. television households. Its international network covers television stations across Europe, Asia, the Middle East, Australia, South and Central America, and Canada.

This data only includes pre-released final ads in the time between their release online and their initial airing during the game. Other teaser videos and paid campaigns are not included in these results.

Source: Unruly Media

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