Research & Insights

By Patrick Philips, February 16, 2012

Superbowl Commercials – The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

With consumers increasingly recording their experiences with brands online, Superbowl XLVI unleashed a trove of valuable consumer data. As the volume increases, though, it becomes harder and harder to sift though the quantities of data. In the words of Brad Jakeman, Chief Creative Officer of Pepsi,

Smart listening tools that generate real-time cultural insights and consumer feedback are critical in establishing and retaining relevance, especially for pop-culture brands like ours.

Source: AdAge, “Marketer Resolutions: PepsiCo’s Jakeman Will Be Busy, Fit and Talkative

Enter CrowdFlower. We use native speakers – online gamers, stay-at-home moms, really anyone with a computer and a few minutes of free time – to analyze social media content. Because we’re using real people, we can achieve higher levels of accuracy than automated solutions, and with much greater flexibility. Is your brand trending unexpectedly? We can quickly sift through social media content for topics faster (and with much less pain) than it would take to refine an existing NLP process.


People are good at stuff

Back to Superbowl Ads. One big difference this year was the flurry of pre-Superbowl ads activity, with many companies premiering their ads online in the weeks leading up to the Superbowl. We thought it would be fun and interesting to look at this early activity on Twitter to try to predict which ads woud be the top performers this year.

We used our platform to hand-tag a random sample of thousands of tweets from each of the 30+ companies that purchased a Superbowl ad this year. We looked at whether the tweets were related to the company as a whole, about a specific product or about the Superbowl commercial. We also looked at the overall tone of the message, whether it was positive, negative or neutral. A sample of these results is presented below:

With respect to the products of companies buying ads in this year’s Superbowl, the social media content was generally positive. The one exception is goDaddy, who had some lingering dissatisfaction related to SOPA. It’s also worth noting that the content about Coca-Cola was overwhelmingly related to the product, rather than the company or its commercials.

Sentiment of Tweets about Commercials

Looking to the commercials, it’s pretty clear that the H&M commercial featuring David Beckham was a big hit in terms of driving conversations. Jerry Seinfeld also seems to have been a pretty big hit for Acura. Interestingly, the one commercial to get a predominantly negative response from the pre-Superbowl screening was CareerBuilder, for their use of chimps.

Things get more interesting when you get more granular, so if Disney wanted to dig into the John Carter ads to see what aspects people are liking (“Swoon. OBSESSED with Woola from John Carter”) or hating (“John Carter is a terrible movie title. John Carter of Mars is an awesome title. Why is this so hard?!”), that’s where the crowd really excels. And for anyone caught up in the immortal creative struggle between Agency and Client, we offer a quick and easy way to find 10,000 people who are ready to help decide who is right. But we all know there will never be a real answer to that question.