Ten Things We Learned from this Year’s Super Bowl Ad Ratings

Super Bowl 2016 ad ratings Slidermetrix results
Now that the dust has settled and the final tallies are in, here’s a look at the most interesting story lines pulled from the final results of our fourth annual Slidermetrix Super Bowl ad ratings. If you’re not a list person and you want the deep dive into our final results, you can download our full final report here. For the rest of you “list folk,” here’s our top ten takeaways from this year’s results. (And BTW, if you just can’t get enough of the Super Bowl ad talk, you can also watch Dialsmith’s very own David Paull discussing our Slidermetrix Super Bowl ad testing here and here.)

1) No Puppy. No Love. Budweiser took the top spot in our ratings the previous two years with a proven formula. Cute puppy + heartwarming story + happy ending = viewer love. The puppy was a no-show this year and so was Budweiser from our top spot. Budweiser’s #GiveADamn spot featuring Helen Mirren performed respectably but neither of this year’s spots scored in our top 5. View the Budweiser #GiveADamn ad ratings results.

2) Why Put Off ’til Tomorrow or Sunday for That Matter. Hey, we’re seeing X-Mas stuff in stores the day after Halloween now so is anyone really surprised that more brands than ever are releasing their Super Bowl ads the week prior to the Big Game? We thought we’d see more teaser ads this year but advertisers let fly with the real deals in record numbers. By our count, 35 brands (more than 50%) pre-released their ads this year.

3) Millennials Have Hart. Hyundai’s spot featuring actor/comedian Kevin Hart performed well across all our age groupings (overall mean 62.1) but really hit the mark with our Millennials viewers (overall mean 66), taking the top spot with this group. View the Hyundai First date ad ratings results.

4) Night of a Thousand Stars. The stars were out in full force for this year’s batch of Super Bowl spots. But star power alone didn’t make an ad sparkle. Ads featuring big name celebs like Liam Neeson (53.8) and Drake (49.5) fell flat because they failed to appeal to viewers in any other way. Whereas spots like Kia’s Walken Closet (60.7) and Hyundai’s Ryanville (59) made good use of engaging storylines and humor.

5) Pardon my Fungus. It’s not that we forget that we’re human while watching the biggest sporting and entertainment event of the year. It’s just that we don’t want to be reminded about it while we’re scarfing down chicken wings, pizza and nachos. So why do pharma companies keep trying to reach viewers during the Super Bowl? It’s not that viewers just don’t care about these ads, they make them sick (well, so to speak) as all three ads in this category finished squarely at the bottom (and that’s not an OIC pun). View the Jublia Super Bowl ad ratings results.

6) Empowerment Outage. Last year, Always made a statement during the Super Bowl with its “Like a Girl” spot that tied to the brand’s ongoing campaign empowering women to overcome gender barriers. The ad was a hit both with men and women viewers (62.5). This year’s empowerment themed entry, MINI USA’s “#DefyLabels” (50.1) didn’t resonate with viewers like last year’s “Like a Girl” ad did. Takeaway here: going the empowerment route alone is not a formula for success. It takes something more… like a compelling story line and a cute kid doesn’t hurt either.

7) Jeep Tells A Good Story. This is now becoming a thing. Jeep’s Super Bowl ads are truly showstoppers and worthy of their slot right after the halftime show. It’s obvious that Jeep knows how to tell a good story, interlacing stunning visuals with dramatic voice overs and strumming that apple-pie-Americana chord like no other brand. If it was GoDaddy.com doing this, it would never work but it fits Jeep to a T. Both of this year’s Jeep ads received high marks–each earning the top stop for our older age groups. The most like-able ad for Gen X-ers was Jeep’s 4x4ever spot (68) and for Baby Boomers, it was Jeep’s “Portraits” (66). Keep it coming Jeep! View the Jeep Portrait ad ratings results.

8) Weird is Just Weird. Our ratings measure visceral like-ability so if a brand chooses to try to grab some buzz by say, morphing a puppy with a monkey with a baby, well, then viewers are probably not going to know what to make of it and the ratings seem to reflect that. Now, let’s not confuse weird with quirky. Quirky, if done right, can work as we’ve seen in the past with the Radio Shack “The 80’s Called” spot (one of our pleasant surprises of our 2013 ad ratings) and we saw again this year with Avocados from Mexico’s “#AvosInSpace”.

9) Take That to the Bank. You have to question what financial services companies are selling viewers during the Super Bowl cause no one seems to be buying. Advertisers in this category are giving the pharma brands a run for their money in the race to the bottom of our rankings. Quicken Loans, SunTrust Bank and SoFi all swung and missed in our ad ratings and each may have committed the ultimate sin for Super Bowl advertisers–even worse than being bad–being forgettable.

10) The Spectacle Will Continue. The hype… the hoopla… the $5 million price tag… the spectacle around this year’s lot of Super Bowl ads was bigger, better (and in some cases badder) than ever before. This train doesn’t seem to be slowing down anytime soon, so we’ll plan to be back again next year. Hopefully, by that time, our endorphin levels will have returned to normal and puppymonkeybaby will have stopped haunting our dreams.