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The Truth About the Top Five 2016 Super Bowl Ads


Thanks to our friends at ABX Advisory for this two-part series on the best and worst of this year’s Super Bowl ads. See analysis of the five worst Super Bowl ads here.

Advertising during the 2016 Super Bowl was disappointing, to say the least. Of 61 TV spots evaluated by ABX:

  • Only 22 (36%) were equal to, or above, the “average” ABX Index for TV ads, and
  • Only eight (13%) were “excellent” based on ABX benchmarks.

The ABX Index is an overall measure of ad effectiveness that has been shown to correlate to brand performance.  It is comprised of Awareness, Messaging, Reputation, and Call-to-Action. An ABX Index of 100 is average for all benchmarked ads, whereas an ABX Index of 109 is the average for TV spots.

The waterfall chart below, shows the ABX advertising effectiveness Index for each of 61 ads. Only a few exceed an Index of 120, which is the threshold for excellence.Super_Bowl_Waterfall-849301-edited.png

Keep in mind that the “popular” press ad ratings for the Super Bowl are really only “Likeability” ratings. While Likeability can contribute to the success of an ad, it is not predictive of success. For example, among these Super Bowl ads, Likeability has a very poor correlation with Purchase Intent.

Let’s look at creative effectiveness results of the top five Super Bowl 2016 ads and why they worked:

#1. Doritos: “Dogs”
ABX Index: 130

Keying off our nation’s obsession with dogs, Doritos struck gold with a humorous 30-second spot showing the length dogs will go to get a package of Doritos. This ad works with a high Likeability score (+113% – more than double the norm but not shown) AND a huge Purchase Intent score (+111% – which is part of Action). It ranked #4 in the USA Today Ad Meter Super Bowl 2016 for overall Likeability.



#2. Advil: “With Advil, You’ll Ask What Back Pain…”
ABX Index: 127

This is a great, upbeat, amazing-feats type of ad with huge Message clarity (+36% above norm), huge Purchase Intent (+110%, part of Action) and Reputation (+58%). This ad is likely long-wearing as the athletic prowess displayed by the actors never grows old.



#3. TurboTax: “Sir Anthony Hopkins”
ABX Index: 126

At an ABX Index of 126, TurboTax’s ad is one that you want to see more than once. Another doggie coup, this one scores big on Message (+32%), Reputation (+58%), and Recommendation (+48%), but slightly below average on Purchase. Perhaps that’s because the whole ad stresses that TurboTax is free?



#4. Hyundai Genesis: “First Date”
ABX Index: 124

This ad was rated #1 by the USA Today Ad Meter for overall likeability, and ABX benchmarking also gave it a big score at +92%. The ABX Action score is decent, so the ad delivers in portions of the purchase funnel, but under-performs for Purchase Intent (-61%).



#5. Snickers: “Action Sweetheart”
ABX Index: 123

This ad is goofy, but it works like crazy. Willem Dafoe is dressed as Marilyn Monroe filming a scene from “The Seven Year Itch,” and is upset that he has to stand over a subway grate. The “Snickers Moment” turns him back into Marilyn. Whatever your opinion, it generated a big +144% in Purchase Intent, +45% in Reputation, and +97% in Talk. Successful indeed.



Some great advertising, see this article for even more fun dissecting the underperforming worst five Super Bowl ads!



Angela Jeffrey

Angela Jeffrey

Angela Jeffrey is Vice President Brand Manager for Advertising Benchmark Index. A recognized measurement evangelist, thought leader, writer, and speaker for PR measurement and evaluation, Ms. Jeffrey created PRtrak™, one of the first analysis tools to cover print, broadcast, and internet coverage. Most recently, she served as Strategy Director US for Salience Insight and CARMA. She is also a long-time member of the IPR Measurement Commission.
Angela Jeffrey
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