The BCS of Advertising

by Del Wakley, MATC Marketing instructor

Now that you’ve seen, heard about and talked about the 50+, $100,000-per-second television commercials that aired during Super Bowl XLVI, let’s take a look at which ones ultimately came out on top.

In the world of college football, the Bowl Championship Series (BCS) relies on a combination of polls and computer-generated rankings to determine the top teams. Similar to that, in the world of advertising there is a combination of polls and social media-generated rankings that determine the top Super Bowl commercials.

Brand Bowl 2012 ( gauged public reaction to Super Bowl 2012 ads by monitoring Twitter. They tallied the total Tweets about a brand, subtracted the number of negative Tweets from the total and then divided that number by total Tweets to calculate a “net sentiment” score. These figures were then used to determine the Most Talked About (most Tweets), Most Loved (highest sentiment score) and Overall Winner (highest combined).

This year 442,336 Tweets were counted, which is 45% more Tweets than last year. The Most Loved was M&Ms – Ms. Brown, the introduction of a new female M&M character, with a sentiment score of +41%. The Most Talked about and Overall Winner was Doritos – Man’s Best Friend in which a dog bribes a man with Doritos to keep quiet. The ad had 48,498 Tweets and a +29% sentiment score. Although, another Doritos spot – Sling Baby in which grandma slingshots a baby in his “Johnny Jumper” at a taunting brother in a tree house to swipe his Doritos, had equally good numbers with 48,687 Tweets and a +29% sentiment score.

Other Brand Bowl 2012 top performers include:

H&M – Beckham: 43,970 Tweets, +14% Sentiment.
Chrysler – It’s Halftime in America: 34,586 Tweets, +11% Sentiment.
Pepsi – Elton John: 39,577 Tweets, +8% Sentiment.
Chevy – Sonic: 37,040 Tweets, +17% Sentiment.

The USA TODAY Ad Meter used two panels of 150 people, in cities they wouldn’t reveal, to rate the Super Bowl ads. The panels used handheld meters to register how much they liked or disliked each commercial as they watched the game. For each ad, they started with a neutral score then dial their opinions, positive or negative, during each commercial.  The score given to each ad is based on the point during the commercial when it achieved its highest average score on a scale of 1 to 10. The Ad Meter has been in operation for over 20 years. Here are the top six ads chosen by the viewer panels and their scores:

Doritos – Man’s Best Friend: 8.82

Volkswagen – Dog Strikes Back: 8.73

Skechers – Go Run: 8.57

Doritos – Sling Baby: 8.48

M&Ms – Ms. Brown: 8.47

Bud Light – Weego: 8.42

New for 2012 was a partnership between USA TODAY and Facebook that extends the Ad Meter vote to Facebook’s more than 800 million users across the globe. During and after the Super Bowl, people were able to view, rate and share Super Bowl ads with their friends on Facebook. Voting started at kickoff and ended on Tuesday, February 7. Anyone with a Facebook account could go to or view the spots and then rate them on a 1 to 5 scale.

The top six ads chosen via the Facebook Super Bowl Ad Meter and their scores (as of noon 2/7):

Doritos – Sling Baby: 4.33

Bud Light – Weego: 4.28

Kia – A Dream Car: 4.26

Chrysler: It’s Halftime in America: 4.26

Doritos – Man’s Best Friend: 4.26

M&Ms – Ms. Brown: 4.26

So, the winner is … Doritos with two spots finishing among the top ads in all three measurements, which proves once again that kids and animals still reign supreme at drawing viewers’ affection in television commercials. It also proves that good advertising doesn’t necessarily come from big advertising agencies or need to be expensive productions. Both were consumer-created commercials from among 6,100 entries in Doritos Crash the Super Bowl Contest ( The “Man’s Best Friend” spot was created by Jonathan Friedman, a freelance graphic designer and musician from Virginia Beach, Va., for $20. The “Baby Sling” spot was created by Kevin Willson from West Los Angeles, Calif., for $3000.

According to various reports, Friedman, the creator of “Man’s Best Friend,” came up with his idea while he was lying in bed thinking about how funny it would be if the animal-human roles were reversed. Huff, the 120-pound Great Dane used in the spot belongs to a neighbor and was untrained. So, it took quite a bit of time and film to get his part right. But the time and $20 investment was worth it for Friedman. He won $25,000 for being a top five finalist, won another $1 million for taking the #1 spot in the USA TODAY Ad Meter, and is now making appearances on a number of network morning and late night talk shows.

So, the next time that you are lying in bed thinking funny thoughts, write them down. Those thoughts just might provide you with the inspiration to become next year’s $1 million winner. It could happen!

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