Super Bowl Ads Once Again Cause for Conversation – Not All of It Good

Super Bowl LII
Tony Webster/Wikimedia Commons

MINNEAPOLIS – Monday morning quarterbacking on Super Bowl ads ran the gamut – everything from clear winners, to obvious losers – along with one ad executive saying $78 million essentially was flushed down the bowl. 

AdAge editor Brian Braiker writes, "The 2018 Super Bowl spots were generally either silly or sincere – and all of them played it safe."

Meanwhile, USA Today reports Amazon's star-studded ad for its “Alexa Loses Her Voice” won its annual Super Bowl Ad Meter, which asks online volunteers to rate ads on a one-to-10 scale. The ad won among male respondents and among respondents in every age category from under 21 to 50-to-64-year-olds. The NFL's "Touchdown Celebrations to Come," featuring New York Giants Eli Manning and Odell Beckham, ranked first among female respondents. Budweiser's "Stand by You" was first among respondents 65 and older.

Tide's game-long campaign of clever spoofs of recent popular ads, created by Saatchi & Saatchi, earned laughs and plenty of social media mentions. Social media analytics firm Talkwalker says Tide earned 163,000 mentions with its ad featuring David Harbour from Netflix hit Stranger Things.

The Mountain Dew and Doritos joint ad featuring a rap battle between Morgan Freeman and Peter Dinklage was mentioned 115,000 times on social media. The game itself got 5.3 million mentions: the Eagles landed 1.4 million mentions while the Patriots got 804,000 mentions.

Social media conversations peaked during the Justin Timberlake halftime performance, with 1 million mentions – including 117,200 mentions of his tribute to Minneapolis hometown hero Prince. The young fan with whom Timberlake took a selfie at halftime had more than 11,000 mentions with the hashtag #SelfieKid.

The ad that earned the most negative buzz was the Dodge Ram’s spot that used the words of Martin Luther King Jr. in its sales pitch, garnering 11,000 mostly negative mentions.

While there were plenty of ads to judge, few impressed Dan Granger, CEO of Oxford Road, a Los Angeles-based ad firm that performed real-time analysis of all 63 national ads that ran during the game, which the firm estimated cost $78,750,000.

The result of Oxford Road’s analysis: the ads were, on average, 25-percent ineffective*.  

“Too many firms focus on getting a cheap laugh or chasing trends at the expense of highlighting their overall value proposition,” Granger said. “As we all know, the Super Bowl is a great platform to launch and build brands, but it must be done within the context of what the product or service stands for. When you consider how much these ads cost, it’s important to make sure these firms get the most for their money. Unfortunately, our analysis shows that the overwhelming majority do not.”  

Using its own AudiolyticsTM system, Oxford Road evaluated the ads based on nine components: setup, value proposition, positioning, demonstration, substantiation, offer, scarcity, path, and execution. Oxford says the best ad was Sprint’s “Do the Math and Switch to Sprint” with a 95.3 score. The worst: T-Mobile’s “Little Ones,” which landed a score of 18.3 percent and wasted an estimated $6.4 million of its total ad buy. 

*Editor's note: an earlier version of this story included incorrect information from a press release stating "... the ads were, on average, 25-percent effective." This version has been updated and corrected.