Scientific analysis reveals that American audiences just want to be entertained
LOS ANGELES, CA.— February 6, 2017 — Ace Metrix, the leader in measuring the impact of television and digital advertising, released results of its analysis of yesterday’s Super Bowl LI ads, which revealed that this year, Americans overwhelmingly embraced lighthearted, relatable, entertainment over heavy emotion, messaging, and controversial topics. The list of standout Super Bowl LI ads was derived through scientific calculation of audience ratings (minimum 500 U.S. viewers per ad) and verbatim comments on creative attributes such as attention, likeability, relevance, change, polarity, and emotion.
“The country has been through an endless political food fight for more than a year and it appears that the largest television viewing audience was anxious for some relief, rather than more preaching, and most brands gauged that mood correctly”, said Peter Daboll, CEO of Ace Metrix. This year’s creative crop was heavy on celebrities, humor (some lighthearted, some borderline gross), and entertaining visuals – and relatively light on struggle, charitable endeavors, and controversy — although there were a few.
“The problem with ads that inflict some sort of political opinion on the audience, just like campaign ads themselves is that they are ineffective in swaying opinions which by now are heavily dug in. Whatever side of the political spectrum, you either wholeheartedly agree, or adamantly disagree.” Daboll continued, “For advertisers, this approach is fraught with risk because no brand actually seeks to push half their potential audience away. Most brands that dole out the big dollars for Super Bowl airtime have the objective of speaking (and selling) to a huge, diverse, mass market. Yes, we consumers want our brands to stand for something, but if the stand is controversial, like hiring a polarizing celebrity, it can offend much of your target.” There were some ads that took a ‘piling on politics’ penalty, particularly 84 Lumber, a newbie to Super Bowl advertising.
A few brands that treaded carefully on edgy topics were successful. When rated by an audience representative of the general population, these ads (such as Audi’s “Daughter” or Budweiser’s “Born the Hard Way”) show very little viewer disagreement. In fact, viewers ranked “Daughter” as one of the best-liked and least polarizing ads of this year’s game. Likewise, beer drinkers responded favorably to Budweiser’s origin story, slightly higher than Bud Light’s Ghost Spuds.”
Ace Metrix data also revealed an unusual trend in Super Bowl advertising – brands leveraging the Super Bowl audience, but re-running ads that have previously aired. Big names such as Google Home, Coke, Wendy’s, Fiji Water, Airbnb, and Sprite took this approach in 2017. These ads were excluded from Ace Metrix rankings, as they did not represent original Super Bowl creative.
The best Super Bowl LI ads, as rated by American audiences, were those that took a lighthearted approach to everyday life – those that sought to entertain through visuals, relatable storytelling, and/or humor and in Nintendo’s case, a great product.
The Standouts of Super Bowl LI
These ads exhibited broad audience appeal, likeable visuals and characters, and relevant, often funny, storylines. These were also the least polarizing, which is appropriate for the huge, diverse Super Bowl audience.
|Rank||Brand||Ad Title||Ad Length|
|3||King’s Hawaiian||False Cabinet||:30|
|4||Nintendo||Switch & Play||:30|
|8||Febreze||Halftime Bathroom Break is Coming||:30|
|9||Wonderful Pistachios||Ernie Gets Physical||:15|
*Note: This ad ran during pre-game and post-game commercial breaks only.
The Surprises of Super Bowl LI
These well-received creative efforts were new entries to the Super Bowl and delivered a surprise or change in direction to viewers. In particular, Nintendo was able to demonstrate an innovative new product with an entertaining ad that viewers responded to. Procter & Gamble’s humorous and somewhat edgy Mr. Clean, and even “Halftime Bathroom Break” worked across demographics.
|Brand||Ad Title||Ad Length|
|Nintendo||Switch & Play||:30|
|King’s Hawaiian||False Cabinet||:30|
|Mr. Clean||Cleaner of Your Dreams||:30|
|H&R Block||Watson Meets Taxes||1:00|
|Febreze||Halftime Bathroom Break is Coming||:30|
The Flops of Super Bowl LI
Poorly rated by Ace Metrix methodology (leveraging 500 new viewers for each ad), these spots were often more polarizing with questionable humor, low relevance, or seemingly nonsensical/hard to follow storylines in viewers’ eyes. 84 Lumber’s ad that aired on television was one of the poorest performers across all Super Bowl ads Ace Metrix has tested. This is at least in part due to the fact that it was only a partial ad that directed viewers to their website to view the final 3.25 minutes. Squarespace’s :30 “Calling JohnMalkovich.com” just wasn’t able to communicate information clearly (their :60 digital ad performed much better), and finally, Sprint’s humor attempt fell flat (father faking his own death). Several viewers were offended at the “daddy’s dead” levity in an audience that contains children.
Snickers deserves some credit for staging the first ever “live” Super Bowl ad, however, by the time viewers caught up to the storyline, it was over. “Ironically this ad might have benefited by having more frequency for the viewers to appreciate the comical storyline”, said Peter Daboll.
|Brand||Ad Title||Ad Length|
|84 Lumber||The Journey Begins||1:30|
|Top Games||The Battle of Evony||:30|
Ace Metrix measures ad creative effectiveness based on viewer reaction to video ads, providing the advertising industry an unbiased resource to measure creative impact. Ace Metrix scores every national television ad, and an expanding proportion of digital ads, across 96 categories creating a complete comparative database—Ace Metrix LIVE®. A unique panel of at least 500 consumers, demographically balanced to the U.S. census, scores each ad in the exact same manner. The results are presented on a scale of 1–950, which represents scoring on creative attributes such as Attention, Likeability, Information, Change, Relevance, Desire and Watchability. Ace Metrix applies a natural language processing algorithm to the hundreds of qualitative verbatim responses collected for each ad, deriving additional metrics related to emotional engagement.
Ace Metrix provides data and insight to enable marketers and creative teams to produce more impactful work, test and adjust creative executions in real-time, and understand what creative drivers impact their brand KPIs. The Company is privately held and is backed by leading venture capital firms and industry leaders including Hummer Winblad Venture Partners, Palomar Ventures, Leapfrog Ventures and WPP.
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