Super Bowl 2017: The best and worst ads

Analysis shows humour was the big winner at this year’s Super Bowl.

Brands that ramped up the humour in their Super Bowl slot achieved better emotional resonance with consumers compared to politicised ads, as people sought light relief from the current state of affairs in the US.

A lucrative advertising slot at the Super Bowl is a huge investment for brands looking to benefit from the millions of viewers that tune in to watch the game, and new analysis shows those that chose ‘funny’ creative resonated more with audiences in 2017.

Almost 112 million people watched this year’s Super Bowl. Through live ad testing using emotion tracking technology, new analysis shows a move away from the ‘sadvertising’ of previous years and a return to humorous ads.

The best and worst of 2017

Market researchers, ZappiStore and BrainJuicer tapped into the perceptions and opinions of over 6,000 consumers across the US, testing 78 commercials worth a collective $434m (£349m).

They compared the top two and bottom two ads of the 2017 Super Bowl with analysis that broke down each advert into seven basic emotional states and explored why respondents feel that way, providing an effectiveness score based on emotional response, using a five-star system.

Skittles ‘Romance’ and Mr. Clean ‘Cleaner of Your Dreams’ both played on humour and achieved a star score of five, which only 4% of ads achieve. High levels of happiness at a high degree of intensity typify ads in this category.

The research shows that both ads have a very high ‘emotion-into-action’ score of over 83%. This score is based on BrainJuicer’s ad effectiveness data and quantitatively translates emotional response to creative into a projection of potential in-market business effects.

An ad for Cure Auto Insurance and a trailer for Hulu’s TV adaptation of dystopian novel ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ achieved a star score of one, which is below average. Cure Auto Insurance had a high contempt and disgust score, and got comments such as “creepy” and “made no sense”.

Hulu had a mostly neutral emotional response, getting underwhelming reviews such as “boring” and “didn’t stand out”. Some viewers also experienced fear and several viewers referred to it as “scary and suspenseful”. This ad had the lowest happiness score in the set, at only 16%.

BrainJuicer analysis states: “Happiness is the emotion that is the most likely to generate the positive feelings that unconsciously make consumers feel good about a brand, and make it a future instinctive, intuitive purchase choice. Feel nothing do nothing, feel more buy more.”

Separate social media analysis from Brandwatch shows minute-over-minute mentions of each brand during the game. The largest conversation spike belongs to Mr. Clean with over 11,700 mentions in one minute – highlighting the humour factor.

The next largest spikes belonged to Buick with over 7,300 mentions in a minute, Audi with more than 6,600 mentions, Skittles with more than 5,600 mentions and T-Mobile with over 4,400 mentions.

Kellan Terry, senior PR data analyst at Brandwatch, says: “Historically speaking humour always tends to perform extremely well, often better than more serious ads. This year is a little bit different with the social and political climate in the states.”

He says it “wasn’t improper for brands to take a political stance but at the same time other brands would recognise that people would want a relief from the seriousness and the issues that face our country right now”.

Happiness trumped political ads

Audi and Budweiser both produced politically sensitive creative, about gender equality and immigration respectively, but one brand resonated more with consumers in terms of emotional reaction to the ads.

The BrainJuicer analysis shows Audi had a far more emotive ad, with only 9% of viewers in the neutral range and an overwhelming 68% indicating happiness as the key emotion.

Budweiser left some viewers indifferent, scoring 30% for neutral and only 46% for happiness. Audi was a four-star ad, compared to Budweiser’s star score of just two.

However, the ad did capture some powerful verbatim responses including words like “touching” and “unique”, with a few viewers commenting on the connection to the recent immigration ban. For Audi, the majority of viewers mentioned they “loved the message”, it made them “feel warm” and that they have more respect for Audi after seeing the commercial.

“Audi did better, because it managed to generate a fair amount of happiness around what could be a touchy issue”, according to BrainJuicer’s analysis.

READ MORE: How the Trump era is shaping this year’s Super Bowl ads

The analysis from Brandwatch backs this consumer sentiment. When looking at the individual brands mentioned the most during the game Audi had more than 85,000 mentions compared to Budweiser’s 63,000 mentions.

Terry at Brandwatch says:Budweiser’s commercial was addressing immigration and within the US that is more polarising than gender equality. When you see Audi talking about gender equality it’s a topic that people collectively can agree on more.”

He adds: “People couldn’t find as much to say about [Budweiser] politically speaking because they are able to sympathise more [with Audi]. Not everyone can emphasise with being an immigrant, leaving home and being forced to leave their home.”

The top 10 ads by emotion-into-action score:

  1. Kia Niro – Hero’s Journey with Melissa McCarthy
  2. Mr. Clean – Cleaner of Your Dreams
  3. NFL – Baby Legends
  4. Coca-Cola – Life
  5. Skittles – Romance
  6. Buick – Cam Newton & Miranda Kerr
  7. King’s Hawaiian – False Cabinet
  8. Tide – Shirt Stain
  9. Honda – CRV Yearbooks
  10. Dunkin Donuts – Local

Source: BrainJuicer & ZappiStore