But Will The Dogs Eat It?

A new Communicus longitudinal study, tracking changes in individual consumers’ purchase behavior/intentions related to their Super Bowl commercial engagement, prefaces their findings by saying that advertising should make people buy products, or at least build purchase interest. Judged against this standard, says the report, four out of five Super Bowl XLVII commercials failed to deliver. The few advertisers that were the REAL winners captured a large audience and drove changes in the marketplace.

Longitudinal study: Interviewing the same people at two points in time.

Some surprising findings emerged. For instance, many wondered whether the widely heralded Budweiser 'Brotherhood' execution sold the beer or just tugged at the heartstrings. This was one of the crowd favorites that actually drove preference for the brand, and it ended up #1 in the Communicus rankings. On the other hand, another commercial that was generally lauded as a top performer, the Tide 'Stain' spot, was well-recalled but did not convince consumers to buy more Tide (and landed in the Bottom 10 of the Communicus Rankings).

Budweiser (Ad increased brand preference among those with branded awareness of the commercial; indexed)


Brand Awareness


January 13

February  13

Saw “Brotherhood



Did not see



Source: Communicus, January 2014

Tide (Ad did not change purchase intentions among those without branded awareness of the spot; indexed)


Purchase Intention


January 13

February  13

Saw “Stain”



Did not see



Source: Communicus, January 2014

The "favorites" in the Super Bowl advertising game were not always the ones that sold the goods. The Mercedes 'Soul' commercial barely beat the Communicus Super Bowl Norm for liking and yet it built significantly more purchase interest than the crowd favorite, the Hyundai 'Team' execution.

One of the most widely-panned commercials, Beck's Sapphire's 'Serenade' (the singing goldfish) was successful in generating both awareness and purchase interest for the brand. (The Super Bowl can be a terrific venue to introduce new products or to build awareness and interest for low awareness brand, says the report.)

Doritos, which for the 7th year has generated publicity and consumer involvement by holding an open competition to create its Super Bowl commercials, typically achieves strong rankings in the USA Today and other polls that concentrate on attention and liking. However, when actual persuasive power is taken into consideration, none of the four Doritos Super Bowl commercials over the last 2 years have moved the needle in terms of brand preference or purchase intentions.

Commercials that succeed on BOTH the awareness and branding dimensions, including the Budweiser and Best Buy spots, are the ones whose sponsors really won where it counts: at the cash register.

There is no doubt, says the report, that likeable ads win popularity contests. However, for two years in a row, Communicus study results indicate that having a likable ad can boost commercial recall, and even help with brand recall, but is not related to a commercial’s ability to sell the product.

Well-liked ads will be more engaging. Across the 72 Super Bowl commercials measured in 2012 and 2013, those that scored within the top quartile for likeability achieved nearly twice the average levels of awareness/proven recall as did those that were in the bottom quartile for likeability.

Engagement Among Most and Least-Liked Commercials (Indexed)

Like Position

Total Proved Awareness (scale of 100)

Ads with top quartile “Liking”


Ad with bottom quartile “Liking”


Source: Communicus, January 2014

But, creating a likeable commercial for the Super Bowl does not necessarily improve the chances that the ad will convince consumers to buy the product. In fact, the average persuasiveness index for the Super Bowl XLVII executions that are in the top quartile for liking is no different than the average persuasiveness index for bottom quartile executions. And, one of the most effective commercials in 2013 in terms of generating purchase interest was among the least liked.

So, concludes the report, liking is worth something. Besides giving you a better chance of winning the popularity contests, a commercial that is likeable is often better able to generate branded engagement than is a less-liked execution. But, to change behavior, liking simply isn't enough, concludes the report.

For additional information about the study and Communicus, please visit here.

1 comment about "But Will The Dogs Eat It?".
Check to receive email when comments are posted.
  1. Ruth Barrett from, January 16, 2014 at 1:08 p.m.

    Awareness and "liking" are on the road to closing a sale and it's nice to hear they are worth something.

Next story loading loading..