Year after year, Super Bowl ads are the life of the party. This year was no different, despite the fact that we are now living in a post-Doritos advertising landscape. To read more about Frito-Lay’s decision to end their Super Bowl ad campaign, click here. This year, other brands had to step up to generate buzz and in the current political climate, that wasn’t a hard goal to achieve. Three brands released political Super Bowl ads, with the hope that their messages would resonate with viewers. The political ads released by Budweiser, Audi and Lumber 84 certainly generated buzz. But that’s not all that matters in the advertising world.
Did the ads create positive association with their brand? Did viewers form new opinions of the brands? Instapanel conducted an interactive study to find answers to these, and other, questions. The results are summarized below, and the full study can be found here.
Instapanel asked 102 panelists to record videos describing their thoughts and feelings of the political Super Bowl ads to determine whether or not the ads affected brand perception. The average age of panelists is 39 and 50% of panelists are female.
67 panelists (66%) felt positively towards this ad, with 46 (69%) reporting better feelings about Audi than before. However, the majority of panelists said that the ad doesn’t change their feelings towards actually purchasing an Audi. I think the biggest factor behind that is the content of the ad itself. Is it an inspiring ad for girls/women? Absolutely. Did it make Audi into a more relatable brand? Yes. But do you know what the ad is for? Not until the last 7 seconds. Even then, the ad isn’t trying to encourage you to buy a car. This would be a better fit on Audi’s company culture page, or even their career openings site. It’s hard for an ad to make a lasting impact on a viewer if the brand isn’t revealed until the closing seconds.
Again, 67 panelists (66%) felt positively towards the ad and 42 (63%) panelists felt better about Budweiser than they previously did. Yet, a whopping 58% of all panelists reported no change in their likeliness to buy Budweiser beverages. The thing is, it didn’t have the usual heartwarming feel to it because it didn’t feature any Clydesdales. The Clydesdale horses are basically Budweiser’s mascots and to have an ad without them just seems… wrong. Don’t get me wrong, this was inspiring to immigrants, or anyone, trying to make a name for themselves. It just wasn’t as entertaining as past Budweiser ads.
I’d like to add a new statistic here. 49 (48%) panelists were unfamiliar with 84 Lumber. I too am unfamiliar with the brand. Despite that, 41 (40%) panelists had positive thoughts regarding this ad and feelings towards the brand were generally unchanged (because nobody knows what the brand does/sells). 45 (44%) felt no change, 48 (47%) said that they were “previously unaware of company,” and 32 (31%) said the ad “didn’t increase brand knowledge.”
Naturally, the likeliness that panelists would buy 84 Lumber products did not change (52%). This ad experienced the same problems that Audi did, but on a more severe scale. Everyone knows Audi. Everyone knows what Audi sells. I’ve never heard of 84 Lumber before. The above ad, which is 1 minute and 30 seconds long, does not mention once what the brand is. I will say this was the only ad that did not hit me on an emotional level. Oh, 84 Lumber is a building materials supply company. What this ad has to do with home improvement is beyond me.
Instapanel concluded that the “risky strategy” of releasing political Super Bowl ads “appears to help established brands break through and shift consumer sentiment.” But, it doesn’t necessarily help brands sell more product. The risk was well worth it for these 3 brands though, as panelists across the board reported positive associations with the brands.
For a more detailed conclusion, check out this article by Oscar Trelles, the marketing head at Instapanel.