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An IMC Perspective on Winning Super Bowl Brands

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An IMC Perspective on Winning Super Bowl Brands by Danielle Rohe.

A week has passed since the Big Game. Leftovers were consumer. Celebrations have ended. $7 million-dollar :30-second spots forgotten. Seriously, which commercials stand out now? With the channel shared among all these ads, let’s see why some have better recall and drive more conversions than others by considering the source and message of the communication model.

According to USA Today’s Ad Meter Panel, it seems that the source variable of the persuasion matrix scored highest with panelists. The top five commercials all featured celebrities or dogs, arguably ranking very high on likeability (unless you only like cats), with the top spot going to The Farmer’s Dog. This commercial used an emotional appeal in its message to tug on the heart strings of anyone who loves their pet.




While the ad definitely brought brand awareness, awareness ads don’t always drive conversions. However, social media data from marketing intelligence platform Influential and shared by MarTech , indicated that the commercial also delivered on purchase intent. The Farmer’s Dog spot sparked more purchase-related discussion on social media than any other ad.

The top ten ads with the highest purchase intent from the Super Bowl.

Influential’s data also showed that one of the most talked about subjects during the game was Rihanna, pulling in 24% of the discussion volume. This percentage nearly tied the winning Chiefs, which earned 25%. Rihanna’s halftime show held a captive audience, analzyed by Cloudflare from HTTP requests throughout the game. Cloudflare Radar uses its domain name resolving data to analyze traffic and found that Internet traffic took a 6% drop at halftime against the game’s baseline, indicating many people tuned out of their second screen for the performance. Rihanna, an incredibly influential source, capitalized on this with one small product placement. Simply appearing in the half time show and touching up her makeup with her Fenty brand powder was estimated to have earned $5M in media impact value.



So how does the best commercial spot compare? When looking at Google Trends for Fenty Beauty and Farmer’s Dog as search terms, we can see a clear increase in both during the Super Bowl, but Fenty has more search volume. The two different brand terms had pretty equal search volume in the ~3 weeks leading up to the game, showing just how much Fenty grew in that short time.


Google Searches of Fenty Beauty and Farmer's Dog

However, if we add in another brand term for comparison, we see that Fenty and Farmer’s Dog still are surpassed by Dunkin, which had another well-loved spot.


Google searches of Fenty Beauty, Farmer's Dog and Dunkin' Donuts.


Dunkin’s ad was one of many ads using a celebrity endorser as the source. Ben Affleck runs a drive-thru until Jennifer shows up to ask him what he’s doing. Celebrity endorsements run a risk of coming off inauthentic, but Ben Affleck has often been spotted with Dunkin’ products. Plus his Massachusetts roots (and accent) ties into the company’s. But did this celebrity appearance overshadow the message?




Did you catch that part about getting a donut for only a dollar more with the purchase of a medium or large coffee? Even if that specific promotional message wasn’t recalled, search behavior from Google Trends showed the ad drove interest. Unfortunately, Cloudflare data showed much of that interest was funneled elsewhere. Dunkin.com, which is not associated with the coffee donut shop, saw an 8,000% increase in traffic during the Dunkin commercial airing. Whoops, looks like Dunkin’ should have included its official web address in the ad!

Morning Consult data showed Dunkin’ had one of the highest brand associations (recognizing an ad is for the specific brand), which isn’t too much of a stretch since the ad is filmed in a Dunkin’ with branded uniforms. Celebrity endorsements were a boon for brands across the board, though. Those ads over indexed on likeability, recall, and branding (association).

So, the key takeaways? If you don’t have the budget for a huge celebrity endorsement (who does after paying for the placement) and aren’t a media mogul yourself, try a touching message featuring a cute animal. Learn more about source, message, and channel factors and how they play into integrated marketing communications in IMC 610.


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