Most Effective And Least Effective Super Bowl Ads Of 2014

Posted: Feb 6 2014, 2:56am CST | by , in News | Super Bowl


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Most Effective And Least Effective Super Bowl Ads of 2014
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This article is by Peter Daboll, CEO of Ace Metrix.

As the CEO of an advertising analytics company, I am constantly asked, “Is a spot in the Super Bowl worth the $4 million investment for just 30 seconds of air time?” The answer is a conditional yes, it can be worth it. An ad during the biggest game of the year can be worth $4 million and, in fact, sometimes even more; but to understand why, we have to break down the Super Bowl into the opportunity and the execution.

The opportunity is 108 million American consumers, of which almost half tune in JUST to watch the ads. That audience, while representative of America in almost every way, actually skews a little more affluent than the general television watching audience. This audience won’t skip the ads, and they will pay attention in real time. Add to that the nature of today’s media cycle, social media and digital channels, and your 30 seconds of air time becomes two weeks, minimum, of non-stop coverage – or even longer if you play your cards right. That was the opportunity in front of every advertiser when the slots sold out months ago.

What happened after that is the execution. Execution is where the ROI-rubber hits the road. For some advertisers, it was an exhilarating sprint to the game, filled with accolades and buzz. For others, it was a nail-biting experience filled with self-doubt and anxiety.

There has actually been a fair amount written about this Super Bowl’s collection of ads already, not all of it positive, but what I saw and what the data tells us is that this Super Bowl was actually pretty good. Before we get too deeply into the data, let’s address some of what has been said:

  • Some have said that this Super Bowl lacked bold risks.  The data actually supports that, but not for the reasons you think. Marketers are getting more savvy about how to deal with such a big stage – there were risks aplenty, but they were calculated. There was no GoDaddy moment in this year’s game – even from GoDaddy. There were no “social scripts” or “choose-your-ending” head-scratchers. Marketers managed risk more effectively – and that is notable.  This year’s installment was the least funny in years – not for lack of trying, but because marketers were willing to integrate humor into the message as opposed to having it dominate.  Again, managing risk, not avoiding it.
  • Others have noted this was a “sappy” Super Bowl. We don’t buy that angle – we saw it as inspiring and given to storytelling, and the data supports that view – reflected in the length of the content and emotional and Ace Scores of the creative.
  • Finally, it has been written that this Super Bowl was more creatively diverse (both in approach and in message content) than other Super Bowls and we grant that characterization as a fair one. This year saw humor, storytelling, inspiration, emotion, animals, nostalgia, slapstick, puppets, celebrities and franchise characters and that’s just  sampling of the top 10.  This year also saw controversy – but for brand boldness (Coca-Cola and Cheerios), not the usual brand stupidity.

So without further ado, here are thee most effective and least effective ads from the 2014 Super Bowl, according to Ace Metrix. As a reminder we generate this data the same way we do the other 365 days a year, with more than 500 consumers scoring each ad according to our proprietary algorithm of advertising effectiveness. Highest score possible is 900.

Most Effective Ads of Super Bowl 2014


Brand Ad Title

Ace Score


Microsoft “Empowering”



Budweiser “Puppy Love”



Hyundai “Dad’s Sixth Sense”



Radio Shack “Goodbye ‘80s”



Budweiser “Hero’s Welcome”



Doritos “Cowboy Kid”



Heinz “Happy and You Know It”



M&Ms “Delivery”



Toyota “Joy Ride”


Least Effective Ads of Super Bowl 2014


Brand Ad Title

Ace Score


Axe “Peace”



Wonderful Pistachios “Stephen Colbert Part 1”



Maserati “Fire”



Bud Light “Epic Night Continued”



Squarespace “A Better Web Awaits”



Carmax “Slow Clap”



GoDaddy “I Quit”



GoldieBlox “Bring the Toys”



Bud Light “Epic Night”


This is the best and worst, but what did we learn thematically? Quite a bit actually. As noted, this was a very solid Super Bowl from an advertising perspective, in part because marketers are actually learning from previous year’s work due to the explosion of data surrounding the ads.

Inspirational and American

Advertising in Super Bowl XVLIII marked a noticeable shift towards longer format storytelling. A larger percentage of ads (43%) were 45 seconds or longer, with the majority of ads being 60 seconds – up from previous years (30%). Almost 25% of the ads in the 2014 game chose to feature stories of patriotism and heroes, including Budweiser’s “Hero’s Welcome” (Ace Score 675) which ranked 5th as well as WeatherTech, Coca-Cola, Chevrolet and Chrysler, all of which aired deeply Americana influenced pieces. You have to give yourself enough runway to be serious, and as more and more advertisers choose this path to showcase their brands, we expect sentiments to hold at this level. WeatherTech takes home rookie of the year honors with a solid showing (Ace Score 613).

Microsoft took home the trophy with an Ace Score of 710, the second ad ever to break 700 for Ace Metrix. Microsoft did an exceptional job at articulating their technology portfolio as evidenced by the ad’s towering Change and Information scores. The 60-second spot shows a montage of inspiring people leveraging technology to overcome a variety of challenges while deftly weaving in Skype, Kinect, Surface and Windows product shots.


The Super Bowl always goes for funny. Approximately 67% of ads each year try this creative approach. This year was no different, and six of the top 10 ads employed the funny strategy. Still, the game was 12% less funny than last year and posted the lowest average Funny Index of the past five years. The reason is that advertisers used a safer, smarter approach to humor this year, vying for the relatable chuckle rather than the polarizing risks of years past. Some may say that brands didn’t take enough “risks” as a result, but when you take into consideration the broad demographics of the Super Bowl, playing to the averages is the winning game plan.

Here are the top Funny ads using our proprietary Funny Index:


Ad Title


Time Machine




Cowboy Kid


Couple’s Therapy


The Spill





Wonderful Pistachios

Stephen Colbert Part 2


Bud Light

Epic Night Continued

Celebrity Heavy

We have written extensively on the use of celebrities. On average, they don’t work. During the Super Bowl is no different. For the fifth year running, they under-performed celeb-free creative, 560 vs. 583. It should be noted that Radio Shack scored with its celeb-filled ad, but it should also be noted that it was a parody. Bud Light, Honda and Subway didn’t have the same success with their multiceleb approach. Some notable celeb efforts:

  • David Beckham and H&M tied Bono and Bank of America. I am going to guess that is more disappointing for BofA which had a noble but polarizing cause.
  • Tim Tebow and T-Mobile beat out Scarlett Johansson and Soda Stream. In fact, all of T-Mobile’s ads in the Super Bowl were in the top quintile for wireless services.
  • John Stamos was cheeky for Dannon/Oikos but the creative from Chobani took the yogurt wars. Lots of bears in the Super Bowl (CarMax + Beats Audio).
  • Ellen DeGeneres, fresh off her victory in our celebrity paper, delivered for Beats Audio, breaking 600. She was nipping on the heels of Lawrence Fishburne for Kia and a collection of villainous celebs from Jaguar, both of which beat 600 handily.

No matter what the outcome, putting an ad into the Super Bowl is a tremendous investment and represents a stunning amount of work. The brands and agencies that make it happen deserve our respect. In fact, there are no ads this year that were particularly controversial or head-scratching. Creative quality continues to improve. But with this Super Bowl closed, it’s time to look forward to next year’s stories where we get to speculate if $4.5 million is too much for a Super Bowl ad.

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