Monday, February 8

Winning Ads: Why Some Super Bowl Ads Work


HCD Research released the results of a national study designed to determine which Super Bowl commercials had the highest sustained levels of interest. The survey included 110 commercials, which were also tested for breakthrough creative, emotion, memorability, and involvement.

You can find the advertisements on a dedicated Super Bowl Ad Test. Most of the commercials include direct responses about the advertisements. (Even advertisements that held interest or ranked high received some negative feedback.)

Top Five Super Bowl Ads For 2010

1. Budweiser "Bull," score 72.78 HCD | 4th by USA Today*
2. Snickers "Betty White," score 70.95 HCD | 1st by USA Today*
3. Denny's "Free Grand Slam," score 67.12 HCD | 27th by USA Today*
4. Doritos "Hands Off," score 66.82 HCD | 11th by USA Today*
5. FLO TV "Generation," score 66.03 HCD | 36th by USA Today*

*The USA Today ad comparison only included 63 as opposed to 110 commercials. Its ad meter is smaller.

Budweiser "Bridge Out," E*Trade "Baby in Airplane," Intel "Smart Computing," Google "Search On," and E*Trade "Wolf Style" rounded out the HCD top ten. The biggest losers of the evening, at up to $3 million per miss, included CBS, Go Daddy, U.S. Census Bureau, Boost Mobile, MetroPCS, Acur, Toyota, Chevy, and Sun Life Financial. Go Daddy missed twice. CBS missed three times.

Writing Effective Television Commercials

The biggest winner from the study, Budweiser "Bull," placed second in interest, first in emotion, and second in the likelihood it would be mentioned around the water cooler today. On the surface, one might ask what's not to love about any past Budweiser spots that paint an analogy using cute farm animals. Dig deeper, when combined with its other top ten Super Bowl counterparts, and you'll find something else.

1. Positive. All of the top advertisements, with the possible exception of Denny's, have positive messages. The lowest rated commercials evoked no emotion as push communication or produced negative emotions for the use of stereotypes, which sum up the MetroPCS and Go Daddy spots.

2. Pull Messages. All of the top advertisements pull the viewers into the spot by setting a scene that eventually ties into the product. The bottom rated commercials tend to push communication, positioning the brand too early in the spot or having exceptionally weak ties between the creative and product or service such as Boost Mobile.

3. Engagement. All of the top advertisements are inclusive, with the possible exception of Denny's, in their aim to create a bridge between the public and the product. The bottom rated ads make statements about themselves. The CBS Survivor advertisement, which was the lowest rated ad, epitomized the grossest display of self-indulgence. Hyundai wasn't far ahead.

4. Creative. All of the top advertisements are creative, but rely on cleverness to achieve a human connection. As creative relies more heavily on special effects, cool techniques, or creative that celebrates itself, they tend to drop off the radar much like the navel-gazing copywriter's monologue that doubled as a Chevy selling point.

5. Nostalgia. All of the top advertisements lean toward some element of nostalgia, which paints an interesting picture of where Americans are today. They want the America they used to know as opposed to the one painted by the current administration.

In fact, some Americans might also be wondering why the U.S. Census Bureau blew $3 million of their tax dollars on one of the least effective advertisements to air. The ad tries to make an American company look stupid, and the government smart. The advertisement, media buy, and messages prove only the opposite is true.

Or maybe, they are thinking about how everyone who says Toyota is doing a good job with its crisis communication was proven wrong by an ill-advised Super Bowl advertisement. More about that tomorrow.

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