How Super is the Super Ad Bowl?

Brand Keys Survey Shows 60% of Super Bowl Advertisers Will Score ROI
Doritos, Taco Bell and Axe Score Big –
E*trade, Budweiser and Lincoln Tie –
Century 21, Kia, Best Buy and Wheat Thins Fumble

Not all TV programs fit all brands – even if that program is the Super Bowl. But the 11th annual Super Bowl Engagement Survey, conducted by Brand Keys, a New York-based brand and customer loyalty research consultancy, reports that nearly 60% of Super Bowl XLVII advertisers will see real returns on their sizeable investments.

“The Super Bowl has long been a showcase of ‘creative’ advertising and ‘buy big’ audiences. But ultimately all advertising should be judged not on how it entertains but how it performs off the field. Does the ad engage customers, drive positive behavior, sales, and build brand equity,” said Robert Passikoff, Brand Keys’ president. “Awareness is what you get for your money in a game known as much for the payers as for the players, where it can cost more than $126,000 per second to run an ad.”

The 2013 Brand Keys Super Bowl Engagement Survey was conducted January 26th and 27th, a week before the February 3rd game, polling a national sample of 1,500 men and women, 18 to 65 years of age, who indicated that they are going to watch Super Bowl XLVII. The research examined 31 brands reported in industry publications as Super Bowl advertisers and determined to what degree brand values were affected by the Super Bowl venue. Advertisers are classified, as “winners” (+5 or more brand equity points), “losers” (-5 or more brand equity points), or “tied” (brand values were left unaffected by the Super Bowl venue, “a kind of advertising ‘no harm, no foul,’” said Passikoff, with results (listed alphabetically) as follows:


Doritos +14
Taco Bell +13
Axe +12
Coke +11
Pizza Hut +11 +10
M&M’s +10 +9
Hyundai +9
Wonderful Pistachios +9
Audi +8
Mercedes-Benz +8
Pepsi +7
Oreo +6
Soda Stream +6
Mio +5
Skechers +5
Toyota +5


Century 21 -9
Best Buy -8
Kia -6
Wheat Thins -5


Anheuser-Busch -0-
Etrade -0-
Fiat -0-
Gildan -0-
Lincoln -0-
Milk -0-
Samsung -0-
Tide -0-
Volkswagen -0-

The flattening of the playing field has not been lost on advertisers, who increasingly have moved to create up-front buzz for their ads, knowing their ads will get noticed – sometimes more than actual plays in the game – along with everyone else’s,” said Passikoff. “Brands like and Coke have been posting sneak peeks of the ads that will ‘preview’ on game night.”

The Super Bowl Engagement Survey, like the Brand Keys Customer Loyalty Engagement Index predictively measures respondents’ true reactions to brands within the context of the medium. Results correlate highly with consumer behavior, and have been validated as reliable predictors of future brand purchase or consideration. “Think of it as identifying how the media reinforces– or in some cases even detracts from – brand values,” said Brand Keys’ Passikoff.

“This is more than Monday-morning, creative quarterbacking. Day-after creative reviews are always interesting, and a lot of talk may be generated by the entertainment value of the ads. And that’s fine, but it’s not enough. What an advertiser buys when it buys the Super Bowl is attention,” said Passikoff. “That’s a given, and an important doorway to walk through. You need folks to see your message. But when the brand gets into people’s living rooms, if its story is not engaging to consumers, if it can’t create real value for the consumer, the brand has just spent a ton of money for some morning-after buzz and no buy.”

More and more clients really want to know more than they were just seen. “With 30-second spots selling for $3.7-4 million this year on top of production costs, it should be a whole new game when it comes to ad effectiveness and ROI. You’re talking about ‘engagement,” said Passikoff. “And because engagement assessments are separate and apart from how many eyeballs were watching, and certainly entertainment, they’re a reliable ‘reality check’ that lets advertisers know how super their media buys will actually be.”

The final score: brand engagement is vastly different from being watched, being entertained, or being talked about. “A laugh, a sigh, or a tweet aren’t really acceptable returns on an investment this size,” noted Passikoff. “There may not be an ‘I’ in ‘team,’ but there is one in Return-On-Investment.”