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5 Super Bowl Ads that Made an Impact on Social Media

by Khoros Staff | Feb 07, 2017

While the world watched Tom Brady lead the Patriots back from a 25 point deficit (the largest in Super Bowl history) to win the 51st Super Bowl, Spredfast (now Khoros) researchers had their eyes on social media. We tracked Super Bowl ad mentions across social media platforms, including YouTube, and kept our eyes on social media buzz. And that buzz was considerable: On Monday, Youtube reported that viewing of Super Bowl ads on game day was up 15 percent-year-over year, with 70 percent of all watch time coming from mobile devices.

Super Bowl ads are historically some of the most-watched ads each year, but we wanted to know which ads garnered the most attention on social media – which ads really struck a nerve and compelled social media users to comment, post, or re-watch. This year, some companies, like Airbnb, proudly stated their values in this increasingly contentious political climate, while others, like Coca-Cola and Anheuser-Busch, spoke up a little more ambiguously (but inclusively nonetheless). And some, like Intel and GM, stayed away from the political fray entirely and focused on their products. See which strategies stayed with audiences the most with our list of five top-performing Super Bowl 51 ads:

1. Anheuser-Busch (Budweiser): “Born the Hard Way”

Budweiser’s Super Bowl ad features the Eberhard Anheuser-Adolphus Busch partnership origin story and focuses heavily on Busch’s outsider status. As an immigrant in an unwelcoming and hostile country (the U.S.), Busch is finally shown kindness by his future business partner, Anheuser, and their empire is born.

Anheuser-Busch made the ad available on YouTube on January 31st. From then until the time of publication, the ad received 26.9 million views. Anheuser-Busch’s ad also came it at number 4 on Ad Age’s list of the most popular Super Bowl ads, as measured by online panelists in USA Today’s annual Super Bowl Ad Meter.

2. GM (Buick): “Big Game Commercial with Cam Newton & Miranda Kerr”

In Buick’s ad, Cam Newton of the Carolina Panthers, magically (and adorably) joins a pee wee football game in a clever play on the, “If that’s X then I’m Y” figure of speech. The ad is funny, sweet, draws positive attention to Buick’s new car, and has star power in both Newton and Miranda Kerr – and the ad generated impressive social media impression numbers.

Buick also released it’s ad pre-Super Bowl, and from January 31st until February 6th, GM’s Super Bowl ad garnered more than 5 million views on YouTube at the time of publication.

3. Airbnb: “We Accept”

Airbnb’s Super Bowl ad makes no mention of the sharing economy, vacations, or anything about what the company does – instead, Airbnb used their airtime to reinforce their values, specifically, that accepting all people makes the world more beautiful. The ad was conceived just a week before the Super Bowl and was a direct response to and criticism of President Trump’s anti-immigration ban, reports CNBC. They added that Airbnb’s co-founders edited the ad themselves.

The ad was posted on YouTube just after it aired live, and at the time of publication it had 3.3 million views.

4. Coca-Cola: “It’s Beautiful”

Coca-Cola’s Super Bowl ad features the song “America the Beautiful,” which was written over 100 years ago by Katharine Lee Bates, playing over happy, smiling, diverse faces and moments. The song is sung in 8 different alternating languages, celebrating (in Coca-Cola’s words) the values of optimism, inclusion, and humanity that bring us all closer together. Coca-Cola first aired the ad during the 2014 Super Bowl, but the ad took on a special relevance during this year’s game due to the current political climate.

Though neither the ad aired during the Super Bowl or Coca-Cola itself mentioned politics (or Donald Trump and his efforts at an immigration ban), many Americans appear angry at the very suggestion of diversity and inclusiveness, reports SB Nation. “They couldn’t stand for either a language other than English or a skin color other than white being so prominently featured in the commercial,” SB Nation reported after scouring the depths of Twitter comments, the details of which both they and we will spare our readers.

The ad was first posted on YouTube on August 5, 2016, and since then, it has received 1.8 million views as the time of publication.

5. Intel: “Brady Everyday”

Intel’s ad boasts that their Intel 360 Instant Replay can “make anything look epic,” a point proven during the ad when several mundane moments of Tom Brady’s day (waking up and yawning, brushing teeth, cooking breakfast) are featured in Instant Replay. Truth be told, the instant replay does add a fair amount of drama to even everyday tasks.

This year’s ad was Intel’s first in-game ad since 2010 – likely because their 360-degree replay technology was truly something to show off. Folks on social media agreed: since the ad was first posted on YouTube on January 12 until the time of publication, it received more than 1 million views.

Honorable Mention: TurboTax: “Humpty Hospital”

In TurboTax’s Super Bowl ad, a favorite nursery rhyme character is all grown up and doing taxes (while receiving top-notch medical care of the variety the King’s horses and King’s men could not provide). The video was posted on YouTube at 6:50 pm EST on February 6th (coinciding with the time the commercial aired during the game) and it had 1.7 million views at the time of publication.

The Humpty Hospital ad was an extension of a larger TurboTax campaign that began over the holidays and featured big celebrity names like DJ Khaled and Kathy Bates. The ads, like the Humpty Hospital ad, focused on TurboTax’s new feature in which customers can speak directly to a “live TurboTax expert” via video chat.

Learn how to work your way to social media success with our Social Media Pocket Guide.

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