Super Bowl Ads: Auto Ads Drove Buzz


Brands spent millions for advertising during the Super Bowl XLV broadcast, trying to wow fans and keep them tweeting on Twitter. Groupon was slammed for making light of Tibet's political turmoil. HomeAway got a thumbs down for featuring babies being hurtled against a glass wall. And while BMW received recognition for running the first ad in 10 years, most missed the company's message that vows their commitment to the U.S. economy and manufacturing.

Some companies spent up to $3 million for a 30-second TV spot.

Those measuring buzz, conversations and sentiment didn't waste time collecting data and analyzing numbers. Zeta Interactive created two buzz measurement categories for winners: ads receiving the most buzz, as well as brands experiencing the best and worst chatter before and after the advertisements ran.



It turns out the overall buzz around this year's Super Bowl commercials registers significantly more positive than last year's. Leading into Sunday night's game, expectations around the commercials were relatively low, and the tone about the ads about 72% positive. About 12 hours after the game began, the tone rose from 11% to 83% positive, overall -- up 14% from last year.

Automotive brands dominate this year's buzz in the Zeta Interactive 2011 Super Bowl Ad Buzz Report, with six out of the Top 10 ads representing the space by Bridgestone, Volkswagen, CarMax, BMW and Mercedes. Bridgestone's Reply All ad took the No. 1 spot, receiving a 94% positive score for tone. Beverages like Pepsi and Bud Light contributed 20%, followed by online sites such as E-Trade at 10% and other categories, at 10%.

Bridgestone's ad that depicts the driver saving the beaver and then the beaver saving the driver defuses problems that Bridgestone had years ago with tire blowouts. It spoke to conservationists who go to any lengths to save animals and the environment.

The lowest-buzz ads to crack this year's Top 10 rankings registered an 84% positive score for tone -- Mercedes' "Diddy" and BMW's "Changes," according to Zeta Interactive. Ironically, BMW's ad appeared to have the strongest social message for the U.S. economy, but made less than a stellar impact. Twenty-seven ads received tonal buzz rankings of 80% or better at this year's game.

The Super Bowl has become a competition for brand recognition -- a launching pad to send a message. "Ratings on the top 10 ads show the Super Bowl has become a showcase for the best advertising campaigns debuting all at once," says Al DiGuido, CEO and founder at Zeta Interactive. "It's not about buzz for the day, but can the ads sustain the buzz weeks and months after they have run. It's an investment in brand awareness."

Hulu, which typically publishes Super Bowl Ads, uses the AdZone widget to feature a real-time leaderboard with live voting results. Volkswagen: The Force took the "Overall Most Liked" Hulu 2011 Super Bowl XLV AdZone Winner, followed by Bridgestone: Carma and Volkswagen: Black Beetle. Doritos: Pug Attack, Volkswagen: The Force, and Bud Light: Hack Job took the No. 1, No. 2, and No. 3 spots, respectively, for the Most Viewed Ads category. Overall, most women like Volkswagen: The Force; and men, Bridgestone: Carma.

The honor of being the Overall Most Disliked Ads went to Salesforce: Launch: Still Doing Impossible Things; Salesforce: Launch: Do Impossible Things; and Go Daddy: The Contract. Overall, California fans click to vote the most, followed by Texas, New York, Washington, and Florida.

Fox-banned ads found a place online, too.

Aside from Hulu, the Alterian Buzz Bowl 2011 results released Monday point to Volkswagen as generating the most mentions across social-media sites: 10,342. The Volkswagen ad came in at No. 3 for reach, placing it as the most-liked brand based on sentiment.

Alterian's collection of 255,431 conversations identifies Total Number of Mentions; Social Engagement Index (SEI), which measures the number of conversations and reach; Social Sentiment Engagement Index (SSEI), channel usage and sentiment.

Both Doritos and Pepsi rank high across all three rankings. Chrysler and Mars' Snickers are other well-liked brands based on the SSEI. Groupon's ad generates conversations, but ranks last in sentiment with nearly 13% of conversations classified as negative, according to Alterian.

"Groupon became a poster child for spending a lot of money and missing an opportunity," DiGuido says. "The average consumer looking at that ad missed the connection between human issues in Tibet and eating at a Tibetan restaurant. The message got convoluted and they assumed most people know their product."


3 comments about "Super Bowl Ads: Auto Ads Drove Buzz".
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  1. Heather Blair from OuiMarket4U, February 7, 2011 at 3:56 p.m.

    I loved the Audi ads, and thought WOW great story, engaging spot... but have to agree. This kind of commercial needs to be shown a lot to allow people to take it all in. Kenny G was a funny pop culture reference. It will be interesting to see if he garners a bleep on the radar with music sales!

  2. Timothy Daly from Vincodo, February 8, 2011 at 7:22 a.m.

    Unfortunately, these ratings don't take into account brand recognition and consumer engagement with the web. More than 50% of the Super Bowl viewers had a computer in the same room as their TV set. Companies like VW and Audi didn't even include a URL on their spots. Where was the online integration? Did you know that VW was promoting its Passat? Do you think Mercedes is thankful that Audi gave them $3M in free advertising? While entertaining, the spots seriously missed the mark in my opinion. Companies like, GoDaddy and will likely show the greatest return on their investment when we start looking at online engagement.

  3. Gregory Martin from TipTop Technologies, February 8, 2011 at 7:20 p.m.

    In an interesting analysis of Super Bowl commercial tweets broken down by emotions on TipTop's ad ratings site, showed that viewers felt the following about: - love, happiness, confidence & anger
    Audi - love, happiness, sadness & anger
    VW - love, happiness, & loneliness

    For more insights go to or

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