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Super Bowl: Which advertisers won biggest over the last five years?
With the Super Bowl – an advertising spectacle almost as much as it is a sporting one – just around the corner, YouGov looks back at the top Super Bowl advertisers from a range of sectors over the last five years.
To identify the brands whose adverts have generated the highest reach during the Super Bowl, we sort brands by their month-over-month improvement in Ad Awareness scores in each February using data from our brand tracker, YouGov BrandIndex. Ad Awareness measures the percentage of people that have seen an advertisement from a particular brand in the previous fortnight.
The top five in each category features brands that registered the biggest upward moves in February, irrespective of whether they took a Super Bowl spot. This, in some cases, includes instances of brands using smart ways to cash in on Super Bowl buzz, without running an advert during a game break.
Beverages – Budweiser, Pepsi star twice
Beer brand Budweiser registered season-topping gains in Ad Awareness scores in 2018 and 2017 on the back of commercials that were high on sentimental appeal. The 2018 campaign focussed on their efforts to send packaged drinking water to disaster-affected areas in the US. The 7.6-point gain in the preceding year was driven by an advert emphasising Budweiser’s immigrant roots.
Pepsi also makes two appearances on the list, with a 7.2-point gain in Ad Awareness in 2018 amid the ‘This is the Pepsi’ spot, featuring celebrities from various generations with the beverage. The 2019 effort called ‘More than Ok’ is a deliberately over-the-top advert featuring Steve Carell, Cardi B and Lil Jon. Coca Cola made a strong mark in 2018 with ‘The Wonder of US’.
Packaged foods and confectionary – M&Ms claim the top spot, while Doritos appears twice
M&M’s made a 7-point improvement in month-over-month Ad Awareness scores in February 2018, riding on the ‘Human’ spot starring Danny Devito. Doritos makes two appearances in the list, their musically themed spots in 2019 and 2018 proving effective.
Planters’ 2020 increase could be attributed to the story arc that sees the iconic mascot Mr. Peanut suffer an untimely demise days ahead of the Super Bowl before reappearing as Baby Nut on the day. Pringles’ ‘Sad Device’ spot showing a smart assistant that rues being unable to taste Pringles won the brand a 6.2-point increase.
Household and personal care sector
SmileDirectClub made a 7.4-point month-on-month increase in Ad Awareness scores in the month (February) of the Super Bowl in 2018. Energizer gained a 6.3-point uplift in February 2021, while its rival Duracell also made a mark the same year.
Tide’s Ad Awareness scores rose 4.0 points in 2018 on the back of an advert jokingly claiming that all Super Bowl ads featuring stainless outfits were Tide ads. Charmin’s 3.6-point increase in 2020 could be attributed to the brand’s mascot’s edgy appearance in P&G’s Super Bowl advert.
Restaurant and dining brands
Outback Steakhouse’s Ad Awareness witnessed a 7.5-point month-on-month increase in February 2020, the second largest of all the brands (and level with Budweiser 2017). The improvement came on the heels of a comical TV spot promoting the ‘Outback Bowl’.
Jimmy John’s 2018 Super Bowl ad starred Brad Garrett as ‘Bolognavich – the king of cold cuts’ in a turf war with Jimmy John’s for sandwich supremacy.
Automotive advertisers – Jeep does a double to lead
Jeep racked up a 4.3-point increase in Ad Awareness scores in February 2020, amid the launch of an advert that saw the elusive Bill Murray reprise his role as Phil Connors from the 1993 movie Groundhog Day. The following year, Jeep roped in Bruce Springsteen in a spot called ‘The Middle’.
Kia’s 2019 ad, The Great Unknowns, contains a monologue extolling the virtues of the unsung heroes who do and build incredible things. Dodge gained a 3.4-point improvement in Ad Awareness amid the launch of two separate Super Bowl commercials – ‘Built To Serve’ and ‘Vikings’.
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Methodology: YouGov picked the Super Bowl advertisers that had the highest month-over-month change in Ad Awareness scores in each sector over the last five years. Ad Awareness metric is based on the question “Which of the following brands have you seen advertisements for in the last two weeks?”. The metric is delivered as a percentage. Sample sizes range from 1,087 to 2,898 US adults depending on the brand. This piece features brands that are tracked by BrandIndex.
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