Budweiser Wins Super Bowl of Advertising Again. What Does Bud Get That Others Don’t?

As I pointed out in a previous Super Bowl post, my research found that the more complete story a Super Bowl commercial tells (in Five Acts) the higher the commercial performed in Super Bowl Ad Ratings Polls. We found that other factors like sex appeal, humor, emotion or animals didn’t matter. They appeared at the top and bottom of the polls with no discernible pattern. In Super Bowl XLIX the research held up again. Take a look at USA Today’s Ad Meter’s results, do some quick Five Act coding and you will see for yourself.

Budweiser Wins Super Bowl of Advertising Again. What Does Bud Get That Others Don't? Click To Tweet

This year Budweiser again takes home the prize. They finished number one in the 2015 USA Today Ad Meter and other consumer Super Bowl Ad rating polls with “Lost Dog.” This was a sequel to last year’s top spot “Puppy Love.” View the spot below to see how it is a full Five Act story. But is it the dog that makes them a winner? Take a look at the top 10 spots in the poll. None of the other most likable commercials feature animals, but they all do tell complete Five Act stories.

Story may be more likable, but does it sell? Many who view and like the Bud spots say that is great, but this does it sell? According to a 2014 Beer Industry Report, Bud and Bud Light control 34% of domestic beer sales – more than any competitor. The closest is Coors Light with 10% and Miller Lite and High Life for another 10%. And despite increased growth, all the craft beers combined (Sam Adams, Sierra Nevada, New Belgium, Shiner, etc.) still only account for 8% of all domestic beer sales – 1/4 of Bud and Bud Light sales.

Who Fumbled in the Super Bowl of Advertising? Many did, but Carnival really missed the boat. They had a great complete Five Act commercial that they released before the game called “Get Away,” but for some reason choose to run another spot called “To The Sea” during the game. The spot they ran did not have story development. Instead it featured a JFK speech voice over with typical cruise ship imagery. I believe “Get Away” would have been a top 10 spot, but instead they finish at the bottom of the poll at 44. What do you think of the two spots?

Is there dramatic form? “Get Away” is a great complete story of a woman getting away from everyday life responsibilities and hassles. This has great action movie like drama drawing you in as she runs from the mob of life to the cruise ship at the end of the road. Will she make it? Yes and all is resolved as she swims in the ship pool with her family. A great relatable story in Five Acts. On the other hand, “To The Sea” is shots of a cruise ship with the JFK speech. There is really no character introduction, complication, rise in action, climax, falling action or resolve. This has Zero Acts. One Act if you consider JFK as a character in the story.

In a Blomberg article the creators of the Carnival spot said they wanted to reach people who never cruised. Which spot do you think does a better job?

What Makes A Super Bowl Ad Super? Five Act Dramatic Form.

When I was an advertising copywriter I had an intuition about what type of ads worked and which did not, but mainly I and many of my colleagues stumbled into them. Sometime we would have a hit and other times we missed the mark. This pressure to perform becomes intense this time of year as over 111 million people tune into to watch a Super Bowl match between the top NFL teams, but also to watch the TV ads.

There are even advertising polls and show dedicated to which are the “best” ads. Being one of the best pays off in additional attention, views and buzz. The more buzz you get for the TV ad before and after the big game the more you are getting for the 4.5 million investment. It makes those 30 seconds go a lot further.

So what makes one ad more likable to finish in the top ten of USA Today Ad Meter versus the bottom ten? When I became a professor at Johns Hopkins University my research colleague Michael Coolsen from Shippensburg University and I asked ourselves that very question. Then we conducted a two-year analysis of 108 Super Bowl commercials to find the answer. Is it humor or emotion? Sex appeal or cute animals? What is the secret ingredient to helping ensure a Super Bowl commercial is liked and talked about?

Remember studying five-act Shakespearian Plays in high school? There was a reason Shakespeare was so popular and why he used to tell a story in five acts. It is a powerful formula that has drawn people’s attention for hundreds of years. Starting with Aristotle’s Poetics in 335 B.C., dramatic theory was first developed. Aristotle consider plot, having a beginning, middle and end, to be the most important element in drama – even more important than character. Much later, in 1863, German novelist and playwright Gustav Freytag developed his theory of dramatic structure advancing Aristotle’s to include a more precise five-act structure as seen below.

Freytag's Pyramid

We coded the over 100 Super Bowl ads in a two-year span for the number of acts developed in the commercial. Then we compared that number with the ratings number those commercials received in the top consumer Advertising Super Bowl Polls. After analysis we found a correlation between number of acts and higher ratings. In other words, the more acts in a commercial (a more complete story with a plot) the higher the ratings or likability. The results of the study were published in The Journal of Marketing Theory and Practice in the Fall of 2014. What about all those other factors like sex appeal, humor, emotion or animals? They didn’t matter. We found these variables all over. They appeared at the top and bottom of the polls with no discernible pattern.

Does story and likability sell? Likable ads are more likely to be viewed and shared multiple times increasing viral buzz and generating greater awareness. Other research has proven that online buzz increases ad recall, recognition and emotional response. The latest research claims a direct connection. Advertisers can buy consumer attention for those 30 seconds during the game, but when advertising hits social media, it is all about likability. People are drawn to and give their attention to story. Beyond Super Bowl ads where else have you seen story have an impact?

100 Insights For New Media Marketing

For my 100th post on this blog, I thought I would share all 100 insights in one place. Each listing is a link back to the original post.

Social Media Marketing Tips

100 Insights For New Media Marketing:

  1. Is New Media Killing Traditional Media’s Star?
  2. Are Bloggers More Sensitive To Spin?
  3. Technology Makes Us Dumber, Less Productive And Stressed Out
  4. Which Advertising Medium Is best?
  5. Can Direct Response Be Creative?
  6. Toyota Apology-athon
  7. Why Does New Media Matter? Because United Breaks Guitars
  8. The Last Thing We Need Is Another Blog
  9. Walk A Mile In Zappos’ New Media Shoes
  10. Tu Voz Rings True For Minority Marketing
  11. More Information On Information Overload
  12. Does Copy Matter Less On The Web?
  13. Can The iPad Save My Newspaper?
  14. Are You Ready For A Content Revolution?
  15. Somebody’s Watching Me
  16. Is There A Creative Process?
  17. Is All Buzz Good And Cheap?
  18. Brand Extensions Achieve MAXIMum Failure
  19. Speak Softly And Carry A Big Marketing Stick
  20. Is Facebook’s Privacy Policy Friend or Foe?
  21. BP Can’t Get Beyond Petroleum
  22. Are Mobile Ads Still Annoying?
  23. Are Intellectual Property Rights Wrong?
  24. EBSCO, Forbes, Time Open The Digital Divide
  25. Yahoo Cheers Associated Content Acquisition–Society Jeers
  26. Can Millennials Save Us Through Cause Marketing?
  27. Creativity Beats Media In TV ROI
  28. GM Recall Recalls Past PR Crises
  29. Cause Marketing Or Crisis Response?
  30. US Census: Bad Ads But Great Information
  31. Where Is The Star Power In The Gulf Clean Up?
  32. Cause Marketing’s Future Is Engagement Through Social Media
  33. Churchill, TED And New Marketing
  34. Blah, Blah, Blog: Why Companies Should Listen
  35. Online Research: Temptations and Limitations
  36. Does .005% Make A Difference? Ask Toyota
  37. Can Marketing Statistics Improve Your NFL Team?
  38. Celebrity, Media Outreach And Events Oh My!
  39. Cable TV Decline: Media Planning Gets Tougher
  40. Failed Test? Try An Ethnographic Study
  41. Do We All Need Twitter Editors?
  42. The Press Release, Blogger Outreach And SEO
  43. New Media Needs A New Name
  44. Public Relations Challenges For Non-profits
  45. Three Is The Magic Number
  46. Corporate Communications, Marketing, IMC, PR and Advertising. What’s the difference?
  47. Which Social Media Conversation Are You Joining?
  48. Earth Day PSA 2.0
  49. Click Here: Digital Call To Actions
  50. Measuring Print Response 2.0
  51. Visual Continuity in Print And Digital
  52. Brand Equity: Tangible Assets Are A Small Part Today’s Brand Value
  53. Do You Have Social Media Fatigue?
  54. Which Came First The Product Or Value?
  55. Ride The Cluetrain To Five Easy Pieces: New Marketing Strategy For A New Digital Market
  56. The Top Ten Things I’ve Learned in Marketing and Advertising
  57. Social Media Is A Big Idea For Small Business
  58. Cause Marketing to Boost Startups and Small Business
  59. As Smartphone Ownership Crosses 50% And Mobile Ad Spending Jumps 80% Keep 3 Key Measures In Mind
  60. Search Gets Social
  61. A Dead Guy Is Following Me On Twitter: Signs Social Media Is Taking Over
  62. Visual Continuity: Is It Always A Good Strategy?
  63. Big Ideas And Big Results Don’t Need Big Budgets
  64. Afraid of Digital? History Says Run To It, Not Away
  65. Savages Movie Written With Fragment Digital Media In Mind
  66. A Social Media Experiment: TDI Club Forum
  67. Hallucinations Aren’t Contagious, But Social Media Is Real For Many Business Functions
  68. Do You Look For Wrongs Or Rights? Stop Social Media Excuses
  69. “Like” Is More Than A Facebook Icon
  70. Forrester: Facebook and Twitter Do Almost Nothing for Sales
  71. Communications: The Language That Drives Revenue
  72. Brand Engagement Through The “Martydom Effect”
  73. Super Bowl Ads: A Unique Opportunity for Undivided Attention
  74. Fear Means Go: Stretch Yourself For Social Media Success
  75. Successful Entrepreneurs Make Mistakes To Discover New Approaches, Opportunities And Business Models
  76. What Do We Do With Out-Of-Date Advertising Professors?
  77. Gen-Y Honda Student Campaign Gets Results With This Gen-Xer
  78. A Text For That? App Hype Shouldn’t Discount Text Marketing
  79. Trouble Harnessing Social Media? Relationships Can’t Be Automated
  80. Can Retail Make Room For Showrooming?
  81. There Are No Top 10 Best Rules for Social Media Marketing
  82. Has PR Become An Unsustainable 24/7 Profession: Do We Really Need Social Media Mission Control Centers?
  83. Do You Have To Be Active On Social Media? Do You Like Being Invited To A Party And Being Ignored?
  84. Filling The Digital Marketing Gap 19 Students At A Time
  85. Mom’s Don’t Tweet But They Do Watch The Voice And #VoiceSave Through Their Teens
  86. The 12 Ways of Brand Community Value: My Year End Social Media Tips List
  87. Research Says Add New Media, But Don’t Drop The Old: Study Of Over 400 Successful Marketing Campaigns
  88. What Is Your Social Media BFF? 42% Of Adults Now Use Multiple Social Sites
  89. Shakespeare Predicts Super Bowl Commercial Winners: Research Shows Sex And Humor Aren’t The Key, It’s Story
  90. USA Today Ad Meter Super Bowl Results: Story Wins With Puppy Love And Others!
  91. If You’re Simply Adding To The Noise, Facebook Will Now Turn Off Your Organic Reach
  92. Airline Industry Has Highest Response Rate On Twitter And Facebook. What About In Winter Storm Pax?
  93. Irony: Sharing Social Media About Spending Less Time On Social Media
  94. 5 Ways Social Media Can Fuel Startup Success
  95. 24 Hour Rule: What Harry S. Truman Can Teach Us About Social Media
  96. Advertising Campaigns Are Dead: Brand Story Is The New Big Idea
  97. Star Bellied Sneeches: Social Media Badges Can Save Companies Billions
  98. Return On Relationship: Thanks Ted For Living It
  99. Behind Amazon’s Pay To Quit Program: Happy Employees + Social Media = Real Value
  100. 100 Tips For New Media Marketing