The Day After: Budweiser's "Brotherhood" Ad Gallops Into the Viral Race

Budweiser would have to do a lot to win my heart. I have an admitted semi- irrational antipathy toward the brand. But its “Brotherhood” ad from last night’s Super Bowl  has quickly become the third-most viral Super Bowl spot ever, and it’s likely to be going up from there.

Imagine how big Budweiser could be if there were Clydesdale kitties.

Unruly, which has tracked, delivered and audited 1.65 billion video views since 2007, reports this morning that the commercial already has 1.5 million shares and 5.5 million views in just five days. (It was released online last week.)

Here’s a look at Unruly’s Video Viral Chart for this year’s Super Bowl ads  and here’s how they stack up against the most viral Super Bowl ads in history.



To me, a real measure of a Super Bowl ad’s success is to see how it does just hours after its first exposure. That right-after-the-fact kind of viewing suggests a viewer just passing it around to relive the glorious experience. And in that Unruly day-after chart, here too Budweiser’s horse wins, and not by just a nose.  

The Budweiser Clydesdale ad has been shared about 500,000 in its post-game life.  (To give you some context, it took Volkswagen’s 2011 ad, “The Force,” about six days to get 700,000 shares, though, in total, it is the most shared Super Bowl commercial ever.)

Dan Best, planning and international activation director at Unruly, quipped, “So despite all the ads from autos brands, it's real horse power which won the day.”

Best says that typically, a Super Bowl ad gains momentum. Most of them attract 55% of their total shares after they've been around a month.  So, he says, “'Brotherhood’ certainly has the form to overtake The Force to become the most shared commercial of all time. The only thing that could hold it back is whether it boasts the same global appeal as ‘The Force’ did.”

The now-iconic “The Force” ad for VW in the 2011 Super Bowl featured a little kid dressed as Darth Vader who freaks when he magically turns on the family car, with a little unseen assist from daddy-o.

That ad’s popularity is helped by the universality of the “Star Wars” franchise and VW, so it plays well worldwide. It has been shared a record 5.5 million times. By contrast, while there are horses all over the world, the Clydesdales and the watery taste of Budweiser seem to be mainly American fixations.

For me, ads that were shown online before the game lost a lot of impact on second viewing, but to be truthful, the whole pack of Super Bowl ads this year was generally unimpressive. They didn’t do a particularly good job of selling, or making me laugh, cry or wave a flag.

But the previews didn’t hurt, according to USA Today, which conducted its 25th annual Ad Meter (which also awarded the Clydesdales), with a panel of 7,619 pre-registered appraisers.

“A common thread for many top-scoring ads: They'd been viewed on YouTube and talked about on Facebook and Twitter for days,” USA Today wrote. “Increasingly, advertisers are embracing a new social media platform that demands advertisers give the goods early – well before the game – so that millions of folks can see them long before the clutter and confusion of The Big Game.”

For all the Go Daddy chatter on Twitter, you’d think that brand must be pretty proud of themselves, but following that logic, the Lewinsky family must have been busy pasting newspaper clippings into their scrapbook the day that story about their daughter broke. Not all press is good press, and so far today, GoDaddy has not been getting much love, thank God.  It is ranked eighth on the share list, with just under 100,000 views, pretty small potatoes taken in combination with the negative buzz about it.

One might also wonder: After years of offensive advertising calculated to make headlines before, during and after the game, what percentage of viewers can tell you what Go Daddy does? Admittedly, it is the best known purveyor in an esoteric category. So is Roto-Rooter, but at least people understand what it is.

But in total, the Super Bowl experience seems to be getting awfully old. Online video advertising, seems so much more nimble and surprising. It’s as if Super Bowl commercials are following some old formula celebrated because...well, because it’s an old clunky form that we’ve always celebrated.  

They’re more like parade floats than commercials. With improved measurement of engagement and I wouldn’t be a bit surprised if advertisers come to that conclusion by themselves by 2014.  Not everybody loves a parade.  

Correction: The original version of this blog said 55% of the shares of a Super Bowl ad happen within a month of the first airing. In fact, Unruly says 55% come after a month, as this version correctly states. The mistake was all mine, and I apologize.

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