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Intelligence Briefs

Super Bowl: Google won the TV ad battle with emotion

Industry Contributor

Ricky Chanana, MD

10 February 2020 2min read

The globe’s leading advertisers once again battled it out on Sunday during the Super Bowl LIV, but who came out on top and what did they do to stand out?

Key points:

  • The majority of this year’s Super Bowl ads were comedic and featured celebs
  • Our research shows going against the grain helps advertisers stand out
  • Google’s strategy of tugging at viewers’ heartstrings and putting its product at the heart of its ad helped the spot succeed

My Takeout

There are not many sporting occasions where you can honestly say viewers are more interested in the ads than what’s actually happening on the pitch.

And with the world’s leading brands paying millions to not only compete against themselves but J-Lo, Shakira and, well, the game itself for viewers’ hard-won attention, the stakes are pretty high.

So how do advertisers stand out in a crowded market? What’s the winning formula? And what can Australian advertisers learn from this year’s Big Game spots? Well, you could go down the conventional route of paying some big celeb to appear in your funny ad. Or you could do what Google did and put its product at the heart of a tear-jerking story.

We analysed all the ads from the game using our content testing tool, UnrulyEQ, measuring how emotionally engaging they were and the likely impact on brand and business metrics. We then ranked them by effectiveness using our EQ score, which is measured out of 10.

Google’s “Loretta” told the story of an elderly gentleman asking his Google Assistant to display stored memories of his late wife . The ad finished top of our list after half of viewers (49 per cent) had an intense emotional response to the content, 58 per cent more intense than the average US ad and the highest of any ad tested.

The ad was almost twice as likely to make people smile, almost four times more heart-warming and 12 times sadder than the average US ad, at least according to our tool. Half of all viewers came away with a favourable view of the brand (49 per cent versus US average of 37 per cent) — the highest brand favourability of all the ads we tested.

Purchase intent (46 per cent) and viewers’ willingness to find out more (47 per cent) were also higher than the US norm. It really shows how leaning into more unusual emotions can help brands stand out during the funny ads usually dished out during the Super Bowl.

Let’s go. What do you think?

Industry Contributor

Ricky Chanana, MD

Ricky is currently Managing Director of Unruly AUNZ, where he believes in utilising consumer research, actionable insight and market awareness, to help his clients supercharge their digital video campaigns and drive business impact. Having worked in the industry for over 15 years, Ricky has extensive experience on both the buy and sell sides of the advertising fence. Throughout his career at media agencies and publishers, he has worked with major global and local brands within FMCG, Auto, Finance, Retail as well as other prominent categories.
Ricky is a passionate advocate of innovation to improve the consumer experience and has continually strived to push the boundaries for his organisation in an ever-changing digital landscape. In his previous role as National head of investment for Maxus (Wavemaker now), Ricky supervised all major investments across the agency. He upskilled his team to become leaders in media mix modelling - in turn helping their clients to drive efficiencies through
screen agnostic planning and fluid investment across the media mix.