Do Super Bowl Ads Pay? For Coke and Hyundai, Maybe. For Turbo Tax and Oikos, Maybe Not.

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Building a bridge to buying.
Building a bridge to buying.

Some brands are like the Niners and the Steelers: destined for Super Bowl greatness. Some are like the Browns and the Lions and shouldn't even consider showing up for the game. Among combatants in the Super Bowl XLVII ad wars on February 2, Doritos and Coca-Cola figure to be the champs and Turbo Tax and Oikos the chumps.

That's the assessment of a Super Bowl Ad Engagement survey of 1,660 Americans who plan to watch the game, conducted by Brand Keys, a customer loyalty research company that rates the Super Bowl's viability as a marketing vehicle based on how many viewers are inspired to actually buy advertisers' products.

“When a brand gets into people's living rooms, it doesn't matter how many consumers tweet if, ultimately, it doesn't increase brand engagement levels and sales. Otherwise the brand just spent a ton of money for buzz and not a lot of buy,” says Brand Keys President Robert Passikoff.

Survey respondents were asked for their rational and emotional reactions to the 29 brands playing the Super Bowl ad game this year. Brand keys then used consumer behavior correlations to determine whether the context of football's big game reinforced, degraded, or had no effect on their engagement with the brands.

Leading the Super Bowl brand standings were, in order, Doritos, Coke, Hyundai, M&Ms, Axe, and GoDaddy.  Warming the brand bench were Intuit, Turbo Tax, Squarespace, Volkswagen, Oikos, H&M, and Dannon.

“The reality is that advertisers are guaranteed awareness in a game known as much for the payers as for the players, with costs this year running around $134,000 a second,” Passikoff says. “But advertising must be judged by how it performs in the marketplace, on whether it engages enough to drive sales.”

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