Market research consultancy TNS analysed 2.6m Super Bowl tweets, including over half a million that mentioned ads specifically, over several days before and after Super Bowl Sunday. The firm also interviewed TV viewers to gauge the memorability and long-term impact of the ads.
The results tallied with the views of others that the 'Lost Dog' commercial – which featured a puppy getting lost and being threatened by a wolf before being saved by his friends, the Budweiser Clydesdales – was the winner on the night.
It was voted top, for example, by USA TODAY'S Ad Meter's consumer panel of 6,703 voters, and by viewers on Hulu's AdZone, while TiVo also reported it was the most engaging Super Bowl spot among its viewers. And it was widely shared online, with more than 2.1m posts across Twitter, Facebook and blogs.
TNS found the beer brand enjoyed a 26% share of ad mentions online, compared to just 9.8% of its nearest rival, GoDaddy. It also won the battle for retweets, with 69% of all mentions of the ad falling into this category, easily positioning Budweiser's ad as a viral phenomenon online.
A further 17% of the ad's mentions were within conversations between users and 13% came from unprompted, isolated tweets about the ad.
So, a resounding success, on the surface at least. But when TNS undertook a deeper analysis it discovered that immediate emotional impact was no guarantee of longer term brand success.
"Many brands can only long for the level of online penetration they [Budweiser] enjoyed," said Bob Burgoyne, global product development director/Social, at TNS.
But he noted that the product itself only featured towards the end of the spot, "making the beer barely noticeable among the puppies".
Other ads might not have achieved such online traction – and here he pointed to the examples of McDonald's 'Pay with lovin'' and Microsoft's 'Estella's Brilliant Bus' campaign – but were, Burgoyne said, "examples of campaigns more closely aligned with viewers' personal values and goals, better leveraging the opportunity to resonate with consumers and maximising return on investment".
Data sourced from TNS, Time, USA Today; additional content by Warc staff