Most viewers in Canada sat through the usual homegrown spots during Sunday night's SuperBowl – a long line of promos for CTV shows, and not much new aside from some notable outliers who brought their U.S. spots to Canadian airwaves or created special spots, as Budweiser did, for the Canadian football audience.
The buzz remained with the ads south of the border – and in the most important advertising competition of the year, early results have chips, candy and pop coming out on top, and David Beckham's behind coming in dead last.
Ace Metrix, a research firm that tracks ad effectiveness, has released its scores for the most effective U.S. ads from the big game broadcast.
The Top 5
There's a tie for first place, according to Ace Metrix. Doritos held its sixth annual "Crash the Super Bowl" contest, asking customers to make their own ads, and staging an online vote, with the winner to air during the TV broadcast. By kickoff time, nearly 500,000 people had voted. The bid on user-generated content paid off for the tortilla chip brand: its spot featuring a baby in a slingshot got top ratings.
Tied with the baby is that old concept, sex sells. Except in this case, the fetching lady in question is a personified piece of candy. The new M&M "spokescandy," Ms. Brown, sassed a party full of presumptuous men and rolled her eyes at Red's antics, to tie the Doritos baby for top spot.
Coca-Cola showed how crucial this year was for social-media marketing – not only did it bring its well-known Polar Bear mascots to the SuperBowl for the first time, but it built an entire virtual living room for them, having them interacting with fans on Facebook and Twitter, sending out freebies such as scarves, even ordering pizza for customers loyal enough to interact – and on computer, tablet and smartphone screens, the Polar Bears in their living room reacted to the game and even to other ads. Meanwhile, the brand's own commercial spots did well, netting it third.
Dogs were most definitely trending this year, as Volkswagen's teaser for its ad proved – "The Bark Side" went viral in the two weeks leading up to the big game. But it was an adorable dog mixed with disdain for the feline set that gave Dorito's its second Top-5 placement. (However, according to Ace Metrix, which live-tweeted the feedback, "Some cat owners balked."
Those adorable polar bears also helped Coke to a double showing in the top 5. Crucially for the brand, which was going for social media feedback, much of the commentary on Twitter was positive. "Cute" was a frequent descripter, and many people did keep the page loaded to watch the game alongside the bears. "It's kinda weird when I react to a play on to look at the #GameDayPolarBears & see the @CocaCola NY_bear having the exact same reaction," one fan wrote on Twitter.
However, the "Coke Polar Bowl" online experience did not win kudos from everyone. Renowned astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson tweeted, "SuperBowl Coke commercial showed (Arctic) Polar Bears co-existing with (Antarctic) Penguins. Not artistic license. Ignorance."
Perhaps what was more unlikely was Coke's vision of the ursine New York fan peacefully co-existing with a pal who was rooting for New England.
Poor Becks. He flexed, he pouted, he gave the camera a come-hither stare, and yet a nation of football fans gave that prince of the other football a distinct thumbs-down. The ad for David Beckham's underwear line at H&M fell dead last in Ace Metrix's scoring.
The bottom two spots, in fact, proved the perils of using celebrities for their own sake in Super Bowl commercials. While the top spots went to adorable animals and content sent in by the masses, the bottom two had a grand collection of stars: Beckham last, and then in Century 21's ill-fated commercial, Apollo Ohno, Deion Sanders and The Donald failed to win the real-estate firm any points. Not a good first foray back to the big game for the real estate industry after two decades' absence.
Always polarizing, GoDaddy.com managed to just eke out of the bottom 5, but its commercials sat solidly at 6th and 7th-lowest scoring. The domain name service is known for racy ads that don't wink and nod so much as bludgeon. A higher contingent of advertisers went for "sexy" angles this year than last, according to the research firm, but those that aimed for sex appeal fell short in its rankings.
GoDaddy struggled with the 50 per cent of the population not targeted in its ads – which featured race car driver Danica Patrick and a bevy of scantily clad, winking, frequently open-mouthed models. Female respondents in the firm's research questioned why the company was only targeting men and said the ads gave them no reason to use the service.
The just plain odd
Car manufacturers, in a bid to stand out, made some bizarre claims.
Hyundai went with an ad that featured a lowly white-collar drone using his car brakes and acceleration to perform life-saving CPR on his boss, which would be appealing if the boss had actually noticed.
And Chevy latched on to that most tired of tales about the world ending this year, to give forth an apocalyptic nightmare in which only Twinkies and men who drive Silverados survive. "Dave drove a Ford," says one of the survivors mournfully. This advertiser apparently chose to kill the competition quite literally in its ad.