Super Bowl ad-champs use paws and guffaws

What’s the key to winning this Sunday’s Super Bowl ad shootout? Data from Mountain View, Calif., research firm Ace Metrix shows that nearly every top-10 Super Bowl ad for the last three years has used either humor and/or animals as a key creative tool. Doritos, the most effective Super Bowl advertiser over the last three years, according to the firm’s metrics, has seen great success using both of these elements: its No. 1-ranked 2011 Super Bowl hit “Pug Attack” is a great example. Budweiser’s use of its emblematic Clydesdales in 2010 earned it the top spot among Super Bowl ads, though the beer maker has not seen the same Super Bowl success since.

“Humor that appeals to the masses is really the hallmark of a good Super Bowl ad. Some advertisers make the mistake of using humor to appeal to only one demographic – Budweiser and Bud Light have made this mistake during past Super Bowls, trying to earn a chuckle from the male audience while turning off women,” said Peter Daboll, CEO of Ace Metrix, in a press release. “On the other hand, Budweiser’s use of the Clydesdales – which we are rumored to see again in this year’s Super Bowl – has been extremely effective. This more mature approach, at least for beer, plays better with the broad Super Bowl audience than humor that is polarizing.”

As for animals, Coca-Cola’s polar bears rival any other consistently-used animal by a brand during the Super Bowl. Three of the top 10 Super Bowl ads of 2012 featured the Coke polar bears, which performed much better with audiences than Pepsi’s celebrity-driven efforts. “It will be interesting to see how Coca-Cola attacks the Super Bowl this year given their recent anti-obesity campaign that has seen such success among consumers. Its latest two-minute ad achieved an Ace Score of 669, rivaling some of the company’s past Super Bowl creative,” said Daboll.

In 2011, Pepsi Max benefited from the “Crash the Super Bowl” contest, beating out Coca-Cola, But, in comparing the two years, the polar bears trumped humor in the soda category.

By contrast, another Super Bowl staple, the car ad, succeeded not by using humor or animals but by using strong corporate messaging like “Made in America.” Chrysler’s two-minute homage to Detroit starring Clint Eastwood was the most effective Super Bowl automotive ad from the last three years, followed closely by Honda’s Ferris Bueller homage and Volkswagen’s successful use of animals in 2012 and 2011, respectively, with “Dog Strikes Back” and “Black Beetle.”

 

10 Most-Effective Super Bowl Ads Using Animals (2010-2012)

 

Brand Ad Title

SB Year

Ace Score*

Ranking during SB Year

Doritos Pug Attack

2011

662

#1

Coca-Cola The Catch

2012

654

#3

Doritos Man’s Best Friend

2012

645

#4

Coca-Cola Superstitions

2012

640

#5

Skechers Go Run Mr. Quiggly

2012

629

#8

Budweiser Fence

2010

626

#1

Doritos Underdog

2010

621

#2

Bridgestone Carma

2011

618

#6

Coca-Cola Argh

2012

600

#10

Volkswagen Dog Strikes Back

2012

590

#13

Volkswagen Black Beetle

2011

590

#18

 

10 Most-Effective Super Bowl Ads Using Humor (2010-2012)

 

Brand Ad Title

SB Year

Ace Score*

Ranking during SB Year

Doritos Sling Baby

2012

671

#1

M&Ms Just My Shell

2012

671

#1

Doritos Pug Attack

2011

662

#1

Doritos Man’s Best Friend

2012

645

#4

Pepsi Max Love Hurts

2011

643

#2

Doritos House Sitting

2011

635

#3

Pepsi Max Torpedo Cooler

2011

634

#4

Honda Matthew’s Day Off

2012

630

#7

Skechers Go Run Mr. Quiggly

2012

629

#8

Doritos Underdog

2010

621

#2

*Ace Score is the measure of ad creative effectiveness based on viewer reaction to national TV ads. Respondents are randomly selected and representative of the U.S. TV viewing audience. The results are presented on a scale of 1-950, which represents scoring on creative attributes such as persuasion, relevance, information, attention, change, desire and watchability. 

 

 

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