Buzz Alone Won't Win the Super Bowl


Buzz Alone Won't Win the Super Bowl

Jill Sherman

Is a $5MM Super Bowl TV commercial really worth the investment? For marketers, the path to Super Bowl success is now wrought with a complexity that TV reach and impressions alone can no longer satisfy. Digitas wanted to understand what it now takes to win, by creating a scoring algorithm called the BrandLive Event Index (methodology below) that took a multi-variable approach to measuring success. And while many brands scored high in single areas, three brands hit the right combination.

– 84 Lumber
How did a relatively unknown brand take top spot? They took a risk. Not only did the early release of their TV spot strike a chord with both men and women, its cliffhanger approach created suspense the week leading up to the big game. Driving people to on-site content took advantage of the fact that everyone was on their mobile devices during the game. And, while traffic crashed their servers, it also created a firestorm of anticipation. People wanted more thanks to the brand’s use of visually-rich storytelling to tap into growing positive immigration sentiment. As a lumber company, their consumer and employee base—largely construction and largely immigrant—were the target. But given the existing political climate, it resonated with a broader American audience. And while not all feedback was positive, people were still talking about it days later. High risk, yes. But high reward. Because there are now few people that don’t know the 84 Lumber brand and what it stands for post Super Bowl.

84 Lumber Score Highlights:

Social Buzz: 100/100

Search: 100/100

Video Views: 72/100

– Budweiser

For a company that never set out to make a political statement, it made a huge one. In fact, a hashtag for a boycott trended, which was quickly drowned out by new fans, Budweiser drinkers, and pro-immigration supporters. But the brand didn’t just inadvertently tap into current political sentiment, they also tapped into empathy—around a single person’s story, and the story of an American dream realized. Men and women were drawn to the storyline.

What’s more, a live Clydesdale feed allowed people to view the horses during game breaks, which led to extended search and brand engagement. So, while sentiment took an initial hit, interest did not (which can be seen in post-game financial impact.) And while most alcohol brands saw search lifts, Budweiser had the largest percentage lift of all brands surveyed (546%). Budweiser was also the only brand to spike in conversation on Monday and dominated the Food and Beverage conversation volume overall.

Budweiser Score Highlights:

Search: 100/100

Video Views: 100/100

Social Sentiment: 32/100


A more traditional approach to Super Bowl entertainment–star power combined with a Fast & Furious tie-in, and additional post-TV ad content–catapulted Wix into the top three. It was only one of two brands to achieve an SMI score of 100/100, making it some of the most viral content of the Super Bowl. And Wix’s choice to give Entertainment Weekly exclusives to their post-TV ad content was smart, as it gave people a single destination to flock to and broadened their reach. It just goes to show that beauty, brawn, and drama, mixed with the perfect cliffhanger, still hold up. Score Highlights:

SMI Score: 100/100

Video Views: 67/100

Social Sentiment: 40/100

“While ‘most mentioned brand’ continues to be the coveted headline for brands, we were ultimately interested in what success really looks like across the board,” said Jen Colton, SVP of Data & Analysis at Digitas. “By taking a myriad of consumer actions into consideration, weighting which would likely drive ROI more heavily, we were able to hone in on gaps and missed opportunities. The brands that succeeded in driving the most positive consumer actions weren’t necessarily the winners. In some cases, riding the wave of consumer sentiment around polarizing issues actually emboldened consumers to speak out, which ultimately drove positive success.”

Honorable mentions:

– Buick was the only brand to get a 100/100 for Financial Impact. They also scored above average in social sentiment and video views, but did not have the social mentions to break into the top.

– It’s a 10 Haircare garnered the most buzz with a 100/100 score in social mentions, but social sentiment and video views fell below average.

– Tide’s feel-good ads took top position for social sentiment with a score of 100/100. But search and social mentions ultimately fell below average.


Digitas created a scoring algorithm (the proprietary BrandLive Event Index) that combines 1) a weighted score that considers multiple variables (sentiment, search activity, financial performance, and brand conversation) followed by 2) a virality analysis using the Digitas Social Multiplier Index (SMI), which allows us to assess a brand’s content virality relative to the broader Super Bowl peer set, and to other brands in their industry.

The score is a value between 1-100, where 100 represents the strongest score, and each performance category is equally weighted and capped at 2 standard deviations from the mean. Because lift associated with pre-Super Bowl seeding was measured, brands announcing their TV advertising participation in the Super Bowl after Friday, 2/3 at 5pm CST were excluded.

Jill Sherman

Jill Sherman


Jill leads Digitas’s social capability across North America. She holds a patent in social commerce and is a critical part of the agency’s business, which currently provides social media scope to 70% of its national client base.



Like what you see?

Have questions? Thoughts? Requests?


Like what you see?

Have questions? Thoughts? Requests?


Go Straight to MK