Marketing Brand Strategy Super Bowl

Doritos, Kia top list of most effective Super Bowl LVI ads


By Webb Wright | Reporter

February 14, 2022 | 7 min read

What makes an ad resonate with its target audience? What are the factors that can help an ad leave a lasting impression in the minds of its viewers? System1 has developed a star rating system that factors in a broad set of data to answer these questions. Jon Evans, chief marketing officer at System1, told us which ads received the highest ratings during last night’s Super Bowl – and why they stood out from the crowd.


‘Push It’ by Doritos/Cheetos was named by System1 as the best ad from Super Bowl LVI


System1 tests ads on measures that predict long-term brand growth (Star Rating) and short-term sales growth (Spike Rating) – each between 1 and 5 stars. These measures are validated using the independent IPA database and also against real sales data at a category level.

The Star Rating captures the emotional response to an ad – viewers are asked what they felt about it and how strongly. Only 1% of ads on the system score 5 stars. A 1-star ad will have no effect on brand growth, while a 5-star ad will have an exceptional impact (up to 3 points of market share gain, depending on investment). It’s important to score well – and it’s rarely the work you think that comes out on top.

Here are the nine most effective ads from Super Bowl LVI, according to Evans.

Super Bowl LVI’s top ads

9) Walt Disney Company/Disney+: ‘The Goats’

Star rating: 3.7

Comedian Awkwafina shares screentime with goats in Disney’s streaming ad. Lots of goats. The concept is a pun on the acronym GOAT (Greatest Of All Time), shouting out Disney’s access to so much of the most popular IP in the world. But while it does an admirable job of promoting the brand, this commercial stands or falls on whether you want to see a goat in a Captain America or Boba Fett outfit. And it turns out a lot of you do.

8) PepsiCo/Lays: ‘Golden Memories’ with Seth Rogen and Paul Rudd

Star rating: 3.7

Seth Rogen and Paul Rudd play themselves in this clever, buddy comedy-themed ad in which two bros reminisce about their friendship, with more and more absurd memories and a clever final twist. It is one of the most heavily branded ads in the Super Bowl, with Lays in almost every shot, but the story and general humor justifies it. The only thing preventing it from landing a higher score is the relatively high level of fear and disgust it generated – maybe those ghosts could have been a little less full-on...

7) Toyota: ‘Start Your Impossible – Brothers’

Star rating: 3.8

Toyota continues their successful Paralympics tie-ins with this ad focusing on skiing champions Brian and Robin McKeever. As usual the brand excels in bringing out the human struggles beneath the sporting achievements, and this is a stirring and inspiring piece of work – even if the connection to the brand is a little tenuous. Not the best ad they’ve produced in this vein, but a high 3 stars is enough for a Top 10 place.

6) InBev/Michelob Ultra: ‘Welcome to Superior Bowl’

Star rating: 3.8

What’s better than one celebrity? Half a dozen! OK, that’s not always the case – plenty of brands have found that overloading your ad with big names can backfire. But when there’s a strong uniting idea to justify it, the tactic can work. Here Michelob brings together athletes from across sports – including a show-stopping cameo from Serena Williams – for a spot of downtime bowling. It’s a shot of fantasy with a nostalgia chaser, thanks to a classic rock soundtrack and a nod to The Big Lebowski.

5) Morgan Stanley/E-Trade: ‘Talking Babies’

Star rating: 4.1

One of the best things about Fluent Devices and recurring characters is that even if you ditch one, you can bring it back and get a big boost to Happiness. That’s what E-Trade do with their baby mascot who hasn’t been seen since 2014 (when he resigned in disgust at being replaced by a cat). Now the baby is back, with the whole ad themed around him being tempted back to action. Self referential? Sure. But it works – a 4.1 star result, excellent for a fintech brand.

4) Skechers: ‘On The Road Again’

Star rating: 4.3

Skechers ran two ads at the Super Bowl, both using country legend Willie Nelson. The one in the Top 10 was the more straightforward of the two, a simple montage with a famous song and happy joggers. It’s the kind of ad which could run at any time of year (and probably should, since people loved it). Even at the Super Bowl, if you get the basics right your audience will respond well.

3) Comcast/Universal Pictures: Jurassic Park Trailer

Star rating: 4.5

Most film trailers don’t work too well as ads in their own right – the whole point of trailers is not to leave everything resolved, after all. What makes the Jurassic Park trailer work so well?

  1. Dinosaurs (duh) – happiness peaks when we see a herd racing across the prairie.

  2. Nostalgia – when the original Jurassic Park cast members show up the audience love it.

Combined, these leave Jurassic Park as the apex predator of Super Bowl trailers, leaving the much-hyped Lord Of The Rings effort in the dust.

2) Kia: ‘Robo Dog The All-Electric Kia EV6’

Star rating: 4.8

EV brands have been trying for years to find a way to connect emotionally with audiences. Turns out all you needed was a robot dog and some great storytelling – oh, and a Bonnie Tyler classic. Kia has great Super Bowl pedigree and a knack for making fresh and entertaining car ads, so this is a well-deserved 4.8 stars.

1) Doritos/Cheetos: ‘Push It’

Star rating: 4.9

Advertising together for the first time with a whole jungle full of twerking wildlife, Doritos and Cheetos won’t win any awards for intellectual content. But they know exactly how to make an entertaining ad thanks to some snappy animation and an iconic party-starter (Salt-N-Pepa’s Push It) for a soundtrack. Comes within a whisker of landing the top 5-star score.

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