Drake and Jake, Mountain Dew’s millions and the Marvel Universe – which ads won the Super Bowl, and which fell flat
Monday - 08/02/2021 15:23
So who “won” the Super Bowl ad war?
Live sporting events are among the few remaining places where advertisers can ensure that no one fast forwards through their commercials which is why companies were willing to pay US$5.5 million for just 30 seconds of air time on Super Bowl Sunday.
So who “won” the Super Bowl ad war?
For the last two years, I have been using the Adam Brown Social Media Command Center at the University of Tennessee to understand how social media like Twitter and Facebook react to major events such as presidential debates, breaking news like the GameStop craze and sporting events like the Super Bowl.
Engagement on Twitter is one measure companies use to determine an advertisement’s success and whether it was worth all those millions – not to mention the cost of making Super Bowl ads, which often include celebrities.
Here’s what I noticed from monitoring social media during Super Bowl LV.
Of the dozens of companies that bought ad time during the big game, three won the Twitterverse with the most positively talked about advertisements of the evening.
I reached that conclusion by analyzing the volume of tweets that mentioned the company or used a hashtag introduced in the commercial, as well as by examining the sentiment score to see whether the conversation around the ads was positive or negative.
One of the big winners was State Farm’s ads starring Drake, in which the rapper appears as a stand-in for “Jake,” who has appeared frequently in the insurer’s advertisements. Over 28,000 tweets mentioned State Farm within 40 minutes of the commercial’s first airing, for a total of 44,000 during the game. “Drake” was a keyword in most of them. Sentiment was very positive for most of the night as people found “Drake from State Farm” funny, until some users brought up the “Drake curse” that is supposedly bad luck for sports teams.
Disney’s trailer for its upcoming series “The Falcon and The Winter Soldier” performed even better, spurring over 100,000 tweets that specifically mentioned the show. Sentiment was also overwhelmingly positive for the show which stars two characters from the Marvel universe, with a score of over 90% throughout the evening.
Mountain Dew’s ad featuring pro wrestler John Cena driving through a “surreal watermelon-themed amusement park” won the evening on social media. It received over 300,000 mentions, likely driven by the $1 million offered to the first person who tweeted out the correct number of “major melon” bottles that appeared in the ad.
A few duds
Super Bowl mainstay Budweiser had a pretty bad night. At first it said it would not buy advertising this year and instead donate the money to coronavirus vaccination awareness efforts. But apparently it changed its mind and ran several ads for Bud Light and Bud Light Seltzer. Mentions of the two beers were under 10,000 and sentiment turned negative after the ads began running.
Another big loser were advertisements that were “heavy” – ad jargon for commercials that are overly emotive, such as those referencing weighty events like the pandemic or the Capitol riots. Most Super Bowl advertisers avoided these themes – opting instead for escapism and nostalgia. And the ones that did go heavy didn’t do well, such as Bass Pro Shops and Cabela’s ad, during which the narrator intoned that “in these trying times we need nature more than ever.”
While it didn’t break the internet, vegan food company Oatly’s love-it-or-hate-it ad got a fair amount of attention given how minimilistic it was.
It featured the company’s CEO playing piano in a field and singing about Oatly’s products. People seemed evenly split on whether the ad was good or absolutely horrible – but it did generate over 16,000 tweets. The negative reaction may have been the company’s plan all along as it immediately began selling T-shirts saying, “I totally hated that Oatly commercial.”