Super Bowl case study: How 12 big ads performed on social media

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With 13.5 million tweets in less than 12 hours, this year’s Super Bowl, which marked the 50th anniversary of America’s biggest sporting event was bigger and louder than ever. Agency Carat looks at some of the biggest ads and their impact on social media.


Looking across a range of big name advertisers, including Budweiser, Coca-Cola and even Pokemon, Carat tracked social sentiment across major platforms:




Chart source: Carat


‘Beer drinker’ Helen Mirren captures hearts of the Americans

Following the success of Budweiser’s #PuppyLove commercial during last year’s game, this year’s ad was highly anticipated; and did not disappoint. The brand’s #GiveADamn campaign generated over 176,000 tweets, mainly from men, 3.9 million YouTube views and a neutral sentiment. Most conversation derived from re-tweets; making up 74% of buzz around this commercial. Most re-tweets came from @SoDamnTrue’s tweet (5.11 M followers), which contained a GIF, insinuating disappointment that this year’s commercial contained no puppies.

The brand’s campaign hashtag generated 9,332 mentions. Dame Helen Mirren’s quintessential British-ness captured the hearts of the Americans; despite people refusing to believe she was a beer drinker. Peyton Manning even mentioned that he was going to enjoy a Budweiser after the game; which although generated suspicion amongst tweeters; amplified social noise even more. Budweiser reassured its Twitter community that Peyton’s shout out was unexpected, generating a further 297 retweets and 485 likes.


Snickers campaign trumps other Super Bowl commercials in terms of comedy

This commercial was didn’t generate as much reaction as other ads (11,667 tweets and 7.4 million YouTube views). The ad mainly sparked conversation amongst men (57% male vs 43% female) and the campaigns official #EatASnickers was included in 2,103 tweets. Willem Defoe cross-dressing as Marilyn Monroe generated mixed reactions, branding the commercial as “hilarious”, “awkward” and “awesome”. Some women complained that the advert objectified women, contributing towards an overall net sentiment of -2%.

Bud Light

Bud Light did not generate as much noise on Twitter as Budweiser

The commercial gained just under 18,000 tweets but with 6,434,045 YouTube views, it trumps Budweiser’s #GiveADamn campaign. The stars of the commercial, Seth Rogen and Amy Schumer were central to conversation. People said it was funny, smart but also a fail, generating a net sentiment of -1%. The official #, (#budlightparty), was used in 4,604 tweets. The tweeters were of a male skew (61% male and 39% female). Including two International starts in the commercial gained buzz from all over the world, including Poland, the Netherlands and Peru


Doritos commercial sparked the most controversy

This is Doritos 10th and final year of hosting its famous Crash the Super Bowl contest, and it certainly went out with a bang. With over 163,000 tweets (55% from men and 45% from women) and 8.7 million YouTube views, this commercial generated the most noise; but not necessarily for the right reasons. Tweeters said that Doritos had crossed the line with their ‘Ultrasound’ advert, showing a woman giving birth to an unborn baby. After seeing the controversial commercial, people used Twitter as an opportunity to vow to never eat a Dorito again. Although some found the ad funny, a large majority found it disturbing and disgusting. The brand certainly generated conversation, but with 69% of tweets being of negative sentiment, Doritos may have a lot to answer to.

Out of the two official hashtags, #doritos, was far more widely used than #crashthesuperbowl. The former gained 52,064 mentions, whilst the latter generated 16,596 mentions.


The action-themed commercial was the most popular among men

Men made up nearly 70% of social buzz around Hulk vs AntMan, advertising #CokeMini. Generating over 20,000 tweets and almost 1.2 million YouTube views, this Marvel character commercial was named both as “best coke ad ever” and also a “big fail”, with an overall net sentiment of 5%. The official hashtag, #tastethefeeling, only generated 256 mentions. However, #antman and #hulk were much more widely used (1,686 mentions combined). A large proportion of conversation (73%) derived from RTs.


Aerosmith art generates more organic conversation

With nearly 16,000 tweets and over 6 million YouTube views, Aerosmith’s Steven Tyler’s appearance on the commercial dominated conversation. Reactions to his presence was mixed, with some saying it generated nightmares, whilst fans of the musician were happy to see him present during such an iconic event. The campaign generated a net sentiment of 1%, with 54% of tweets coming from men. Only 2% of tweets included the official hashtag, #tastetherainbow; with #skittlesart being more popular (9% of tweets). 61% of tweets were re-tweets, which is a lower number than other commercials from this event, suggesting a higher proportion of unique organic conversation.


‘New Money’ hashtag works well on social media

PayPal’s first Super Bowl ad generated nearly 16,000 tweets and 432,144 YouTube views. With a neutral sentiment, the commercial celebrated ‘new money’, emphasising that PayPal celebrated people as money, and that coins were going out of fashion Indeed, #newmoney, the campaign’s official hashtag carried across social extremely well, and was included in 32% of tweets about this commercial. This is partly due to the fact that 77% of tweets were re-tweets, instead of individual organic conversation. Many concluded that the advert was confusing and too safe to compete with the other big brands present in the Super Bowl’s commercial space.

Pepsi Half Time

Unsurprisingly the half time event generated the most social noise (270,258 tweets), with a fairly neutral divide between males and females. With 3% positive sentiment, it was one of the well-received aspects of the Super Bowl events. People loved the performances, including Coldplay, Beyonce and Bruno Mars.


Hot Dogs well received on Twitter

The Heinz Wiener dog stampede resonated extremely well with the SuperBowl audience with viewers agreeing that it was the cutest ad of the Superbowl. The ad featured a bundle of dogs wearing hot-dog buns running towards Heinz sauces to the theme of Harry Nilsson’s “Without You”. 60% of ad chatter came from women, but the ad was received exceptionally well, with many tweets calling it their favourite, and the best ad of the superbowl. The audience particularly liked the simplicity of the ad, and that Heinz were also promoting pet adoption with PETA.

The ad drove 38,610 mentions on Twitter; #meettheketchups generated 11,266 mentions (MAP estimated) and 9% net sentiment (MAP automated). Additional social chatter came as a result of parody handle @CommonWhiteGirl on Twitter, who tweeted that “Heinz had won the superbowl”; the account boasts 1.2m followers and their tweet generated over 19,650+ engagements.


20-year-old gaming brand’s debut scores big on YouTube and pre-game hype

The Pokémon advert was picked up by eager fans on YouTube and racked up over 17 million views, while conversation on Twitter was steady with 29,648 mentions. Loyal Pokémon fans managed to steer conversation away from the ad and used the opportunity to ask Pokémon about the next game release. The ad was Pokémon’s Superbowl debut but also celebrated their 20 year anniversary – this gave a great opportunity for brand engagement, with brands such as Doritos creating special content.

Fans engaged with Pokémon’s superbowl content, but the brand focused on the SuperBowl entertainment, and slipping in Pokémon references to generate buzz before the ad launched (i.e. Hats backwards, Trainers! It's game time! #SB50) - overall, Pokémon conversation drove 4% net sentiment (automated).


Glorifying crime or good humour?

Toyota’s ad divided the SuperBowl audience, with some saying the car chase was in poor taste, confused if the ad message was glorifying crime or the Prius, while others said it was in good humour and joined in on Twitter. Overall, the ad generated 12,146 mentions with a net sentiment of 6%. In an effort to boost social conversation, in the run up to the SuperBowl Toyota asked Twitter to cheer on the getaway car using the #GoPriusGo and chosen tweets were featured in the Superbowl ad; the #GoPriusGo hashtag drove 1,306 mentions (7th-8th February); but the most used hashtag was #Prius with 3,358 mentions.


First ad a slick success as brand engages other Superbowl advertisers on Twitter

LG’s first SuperBowl ad was sci-fi themed and featured a time-traveling Liam Neeson with his son playing his younger self; the ad confused the audience with some Twitter users mistaking it for a new film preview which is unsurprising when you realise the ad’s executive producer is Ridley Scott (Alien, Prometheus); the general consensus was that the ad was slick and impressive – resulting in net (MAP automated) setniment of 2%. LG hosted a range of competitions which boosted the use of the campaign hashtags, #OledIsHere for example generated 7,396 (MAP estimated) mentions of the total 11,176 Twitter mentions. On Twitter, the brand engaged with other advertisers inc. Budweiser, Heinz to boost conversation.

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