Calm Down Now! Super Bowl Ad Frenzy Is Over

Once again, much ado about nothing. No grand sentence is necessary: This year’s Super Bowl ads were dull.

In fact, there wasn’t even that much ado. In the days leading up to the game, controversy principally revolved around:

-- the Budweiser ad that allegedly was really commenting about the nation’s sudden mania with immigrants. Bud gave their ad the silly title, “Born The Hard Way”;

--Audi, for an ad that noted, for the billionth time, the sad but no longer really controversial observation that women get a raw deal in this world;

-- And by Mexican avocado marketers, who told the Super Bowl audience, perhaps for the first time it dawned on anyone, just how popular avocados are on game day.

The star of the Controversial Ad Derby was a place called 84 Lumber. It produced a commercial storyline that was all about Mexican immigration, but I’d bet, won’t do that much to help 84 Lumber, except encourage thousands of crank phone calls and social media mentions to a place no one ever heard of 48 hours before.

But you know? Who cares? Increasingly, not many. Super Bowl ads are now known for being expensive and trying really hard to be entertaining. But really, by now, the whole idea is in decline. We are celebrating false excitement aided by--oh, no, fake advertising news.

Urged to react, we gush or steam.

Early analysis of Super Bowl ad-sharing stats from Unruly, the ad tech firm that monitors such thing and helps predict the virality of ads, discerns distinct lack of interest in Super Bowl’s fab $5 million-per-half-minute ads:

This morning, Unruly reports, “Despite a number of brands releasing their ads early online, this year has seen a significant decrease in sharing activity from the previous year. The top 10 ads have so far generated 1,456,023 shares online altogether - half of what the top 10 managed at the same time last year (2,889,156), and way behind 2015’s record-breaking total (4,485,297).”

Only in a country as fractured as this one could a Coke commercial in which a bunch of faces sing the lyrics of “America the Beautiful” in different languages provoke controversy. Yet it ranks eighth on Unruly’s list of most shared ads from this year’s Bowl.

It’s not even a new ad. It aired in 2014, and several times since as a spot within major sports telecasts, and I’d bet, without a peep.

Here’s Unruly’s top 10, as measured by shares Facebook and YouTube shares of Super Bowl ads:

Top 10 most shared ads of Super Bowl 2017

1. Budweiser: “#BornTheHardWay” Total shares: 435,892

2. Mr Clean: “Cleaner of Your Dreams”  Total Shares: 226,767

3. AirBnb: “We Accept” Total shares: 155,971

4. T-Mobile: “#UnlimitedMoves” Total shares: 155,070

5. Audi: “#DriveProgress”Total shares: 132,606

6. Avocados from Mexico (extended cut): “#AvoSecrets” Total shares: 103,303

7. 84 Lumber (Extended): The Entire Journey Total shares: 67,430

8. Coca-Cola: “It's Beautiful” Total shares: 62,421

9. Hyundai: “A Better Super Bowl” Total shares: 59,679

10. Tide: "Gronk Kinda Gets Kicked Out"- Teaser 2 Total shares: 56,884

It’s interesting to me that data from TiVo today released its own list of top ten commercials, using second-by-second data and measurement tools, based on commercial retention compared to overall program viewership, don't have much to do with pre-game publicity

In TiVo's estimation, the top spot was the Christopher Walken-Jason Timberlake commercial for Bai, the antioxidant drink (which I think worked because it was so un-SuperBowly quiet and restrained.)

The most engaging ads and promotions are determined by looking for spots with the biggest bump in viewership relative to the surrounding 15 minutes of programming, offering what TiVo maintains is "a true reflection of change in viewership."

By that measurement, among the ads with pre-game notoriety, only the Budweiser spot, featuring those two feisty German immigrant beermaker/anarchists makes the list.

Finally last week I wrote about the research company BrainJuicer which on Sunday analyzed and, for the first time ever, reported, in real time, viewer reactions to the ads.

By its criteria, a rating of 5 is one that BrainJuicer says is assured of a positive ROI for the ad. Only nine ads lived up to that, but none more than Kia’s delightful “Niro Hero’s Journey,” which scored highest of all the ads. One got a 4.

Comments from test viewers didn’t have much to say about the Kia, but man they loved Melissa McCarthy, who starred as the hapless environmental do-gooder in the spot. (Combined with her ridiculously funny bit on “SNL,” this might have been the best weekend of her professional life.)  

Personally I was happy to see that King’s Hawaiian Rolls, which I suspect may be the cheapest, most humble Super Bowl ad ever, also rated a 5, above--even--the Tide Terry Bradshaw shirt stain bit.  

BrainJuicer president Alex Hunt, seeing a good number of the top ads were funny attempts that landed, proclaimed that Super Bowl “sadvertising” is dead.

But BrainJuicer charted 78 Super Bowl ads; 68 of them, by BrainJuicer’s methodology were something less than successful. That’s still pretty sad, and by 51 years into the Super Bowl, just what is to be expected.
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