Brainzooming regular contributor and retail marketing sage, Woody Bendle bring a fantastic quantitative perspective to his analysis of Super Bowl Advertising. Woody used a rating scale exploring relationship and creative strengths to assess this year's crop of Super Bowl advertising entries. Check out Woody's methodology and see how your favorites fared with his analysis:


woody-bendleMike reached out the weekend before the Super Bowl and asked if I’d be interested in writing a blog post about this year’s Super Bowl advertising.  I had no idea what I would write but I’ve always found the pressure of a deadline invigorating so without even giving it much thought, I immediately said yes!

OK… so now what?

Super Bowl Advertising by the Numbers

It is estimated that there were approximately 120 million viewers for the Super Bowl this year.  Come Monday morning, these viewers talk not only about the game, but also the Super Bowl advertising.  This conversation happens from the water cooler to the boardroom.  Everyone watching instantly becomes an armchair Creative Director with a lot of advertising opinions, some favorable, and some…. well, not so much.  What do they know anyway!?  Oh yeah, they’re actually potential customers!  That’s right, the folks who Super Bowl advertising was, in theory, created for in the first place!

This year, the average 30 second spot in the Super Bowl cost about $4 million to air.  This is up a staggering 14% from last year!  Talk about inflation!!!  Four Million Dollars for 30 seconds.  Man, that ad better work!  OK… maybe there’s a little pressure associated with creating an impactful advertisement for the Super Bowl.

So let’s pretend for a moment, that you had a spare $4 million lying around.  And for some CRAZY reason, you decided to run a commercial during the Super Bowl.  I already noted that you’re going to have 120 million people judging you, and they’re going to be comparing you with some advertising heavyweights such Budweiser, Doritos, Volkswagen, E*Trade and probably every car manufacturer on the planet.

Still feeling up to the challenge?

Oh, and remember that some of those 120 million watching the Super Bowl are potential and current customers (see above)!  And, last but not least, some of those 120 million people are your bosses, shareholders, and board members – and they’re going to want to know if your Super Bowl advertising “worked.”

Are you prepared to answer that question?

Measuring Potential Advertising Effectiveness

In my opinion, the goal of TV advertising should be to create (or build upon) a profitable relationship between your brand and your consumers, and to clearly register a memorable (preferably favorable) impression that can build upon your brands equity over time.

In television advertising, there is usually a very STRONG relationship between creative execution (that is aligned with the brand’s personality and promise) and the ad's ability to create (or further build upon) a relationship with your brand.  And, being the geek that I am, I decided to perform a highly unscientific quantitative evaluation of the Super Bowl advertising this year with an extremely unrepresentative sample (13 people made up of my family and some friends – with a slight sample bias towards high school students).  Well, maybe we’re not all that unrepresentative.  We do live smack-dab in the geographic middle of the United States, and I suppose that make us the “average” in some way, shape, or form.

OK, so the objective of my little Super Bowl advertising research project was simply to demonstrate the relationship between creative execution and relationship potential.  To do this, we rated each ad that ran from the kickoff through the end of the Super Bowl.  And, each ad was rated on five simple measures (that’s over 3,000 scores I had to crunch).

Relationship Potential was measured through:

1)     Consideration – “The ad made me interested in buying from this company (or buying this product)”

2)     Connection – “The ad made me like this company or product”

Creative Impact Potential was measured through:

3)     Message Clarity – “I clearly knew who the ad was for and what this ad was trying to tell me”

4)     Likability – “How much I liked this ad (or not)”

5)     Buzz Worthy – “Is this ad worth sharing online with my (Facebook) friends”

Let’s see how your ad did!


By plotting Super Bowl advertising based on its Relationship Potential score vs. its Creative Impact score, we end up with a 2 x 2 grid that helps us quickly see who the Super Bowl ad winners and losers were (at least according to my family and friends) this year.  And, as we hypothesized earlier, there is a VERY STRONG relationship between an Ad’s Creative Impact and its Relationship Potential!

The top marks for this year’s ads goes to Best Buy, Doritos (goat ad), Budweiser and Taco Bell.  These ads scored well for both their ability to build a relationship with the audience, and their strong creative execution.

The bottom marks go to, MiO Fit, Bud Light (Voo-Doo Dolls), (Walter), Gildan T-Shirts and Mercedes Benz (although I gotta give them props for the Stones tune!).  These ads were rated poorly for both Creative Impact and their Relationship Building Potential.

And by the way, the Calvin Klein ad in the Super Bowl did very well with the High School girls (I’m expecting that to be “shared” and “liked” a lot of Facebook over the coming days by teenage girls).

So how did my family and friends do?  Do our ratings reflect your opinions? Woody Bendle


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