The 5 most effective Super Bowl LVII ads so far, from Bud Light to Breaking Bad
With Super Bowl LVII fast approaching, Jon Evans, System1’s chief customer officer shares the most effective Super Bowl ads released so far.
Serena Williams and Brian Cox front Michelob Ultra's star-studded Super Bowl LVII campaign / Michelob Ultra
Super Bowl LVII is mere days away, and marketers are starting to shift away from dropping teasers, opting to instead pre-release their full-length ads. Plenty of brands will wait to reveal their ads on game day, but with estimated costs for a Super Bowl spot reaching $7m this year, it’s not surprising that many choose to go early and trade the surprise factor for broader exposure.
System1 has been running all of them through its ‘Test Your Ad’ methodology as they’re released. Here are the five top scorers so far:
5. Oikos: ‘Sanders Family Reunion’
Star rating: 3.4
Oikos yogurt interrupts the parade of game day beer ads with a celebrity-themed spot, recruiting NFL Hall-of-Famer-turned-coaching-star Deion Sanders and his family as a family picnic turns into a test of strength (presumably powered by Oikos’ high protein Triple Zero yogurt).
The ad is a solid performer, especially for a lesser-known brand – the family‘s acting isn’t top-tier, but their various feats deliver an entertaining spot that uses a celebrity well by presenting a larger-than-life version of what he’s known for.
4. Rakuten: ‘Not-so Clueless’
Star rating: 3.5
Shopping cashback app Rakuten hires Alicia Silverstone to reprise her role as Cher Horowitz and introduces a major theme of this year’s Super Bowl – taking iconic movies and TV shows and turning them into ads. As we know from the work of Orlando Wood and others, cultural references are an excellent route to higher ad effectiveness. They’re a great way for a brand to grab attention and get people talking, which can be ideal for lesser-known brands looking to build a profile at the Big Game. The biggest risk is that buzz for the property in question means your brand gets lost in the mix and people leave your ad clueless about who made it. It’s a danger for Rakuten here, whose ad gets a fine 3.5-star rating but only a modest brand fluency score.
3. Popcorners: ‘Breaking Bad Super Bowl Commercial’
Star rating: 4.1
As snack brands go, Popcorners is a young one – launched in 2010, the popcorn chip brand is making a very strong Super Bowl debut with its Breaking Bad-themed ad, as Walter and Jesse carve out a niche in the lighter snacks trade. Less bold marketers might hold off on associating their product with meth, but the positioning works very well at reminding viewers that Popcorners is a challenger brand offering something a little different from the norm, as far as chips are concerned.
As with Rakuten, Popcorners scores only modestly on recognition but on short-term sales measures it’s an exceptional performer and underlines how effective riffs on popular culture can be.
2. Bud Light: ‘Hold’
Star rating: 4.1
‘Hold’ is one of the simplest and most original ads of the Super Bowl so far, a genuinely sweet commercial starring Miles Teller and his wife Keleigh – she’s stuck on hold, he fetches a Bud Light for them both, and a tedious wait turns into a playful date.
The celebrity factor is way less important here than the couple’s chemistry, and the way the ad turns one of the most tiresome, alienating features of modern life into a celebration of human connection. It’s hard to remember a Super Bowl spot this leisurely, let alone this romantic, and it’s great to see audiences respond well with a 4.1-star rating.
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1. Michelob Ultra: ‘Ultra Club New Members Day’
Star rating: 4.2
It’s rare to find a big Super Bowl ad nowadays without A-list celebrities in tow – often a whole pack of stars. You’d think Serena Williams would be enough for most brands, but Michelob Ultra has recruited actor Brian Cox, commentator Tony Romo, soccer star Alex Morgan and more as co-stars in a tribute to beloved 80s golf comedy Caddyshack. The campaign captures the movie’s goofball spirit and makes great use of the tennis superstar and of Cox as her traditional-golfer foil. Is this much star power overkill? Not from the viewer’s perspective, as Michelob’s ad is our current pre-game champion, performing exceptionally well on short-term metrics as well as a strong 4.2-star branding score. Movie and TV homages look set to be one of the stories of Sunday night, and right now Michelob is leading the pack.
How many of these will figure in the final game-day rankings? If it’s a great year, the ads which show up on the night should eclipse most, maybe all of these pre-releases. But Michelob and Bud Light on 4-Stars are strong enough to figure on a final list.
One of the big outstanding questions, though, is what about M&M’s, which has won a whole lot of pre-Bowl coverage for its announcement that it's replacing the ‘spokescandies’ with actress Maya Rudolph. We didn’t include teasers in our list, but many have expressed doubts that this ‘replacement’ will last (who could have guessed?). Audiences trust the brand to get it right, though, as the teaser landed a three-star rating, which is strong for a trailer.
System1 tests ads on measures that predict long-term brand growth (star rating) and short-term sales growth (spike rating) – each between one and five 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. Only 1% of ads on the system score five stars. A one-star ad will have zero effect on brand growth, while a five-star ad will have an exceptional impact (up to three points of market share gain, depending on investment). Often the work that receives the highest ratings comes as a surprise to everyone.
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