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Socratic Technologies Announces The Most Successful Super Bowl Ads Of 2014

Socratic Technologies' two-phase Super Bowl ad testing analyzed the performance of 53 individual commercials--with some surprises among the results

March 05, 2014 --

SAN FRANCISCO, March 5, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- Socratic Technologies announced today the results of its comprehensive testing of 53 individual Super Bowl commercials. This two-phase testing measures immediate impact of the commercials' engagement, appeal and persuasiveness, and also tracks the residual effects of advertisements approximately 10 days later to gauge subjects' brand recognition and changes in perception and buying interest.

Socratic Technologies announced today the results of its comprehensive testing of 53 individual Super Bowl commercials. This two-phase testing measures immediate impact of the commercials' engagement, appeal and persuasiveness, and also tracks the residual effects of advertisements approximately 10 days later to gauge subjects' brand recognition, changes in perception, increase in purchase intent and 48 additional diagnostics.

The robust results can be summarized in the following findings:

1. How do the 2014 Super Bowl commercials, in general, stack up against previous Super Bowl ads?

Socratic Technologies Announces The Most Successful Super Bowl Ads Of 2014

  • Overall, the 2014 Super Bowl commercials performed somewhat below the levels of past years. Subjects' engagement levels, in particular, seem to have been lower than hoped. Most ads performed with moderate success, with only a few surprise breakouts.
  • Budweiser, once again, ran two commercials that landed in the Top 10, with "Puppy Love" in the #2 place and "Hero's Welcome" in #4. These ads pulled at our heart strings, entertained us, and created a strong feeling for the brand; but what kept them from the #1 position was their failure to increase buying interest.
  • WeatherTech's "Made in America," one of the ads that surprised us, performed exceptionally well in all aspects of our testing and brought home the results for purchase intent. It captured our #1 position this year.

2. What are the biggest surprises? What did we learn this year?

  • THE biggest surprise was the commercial for WeatherTech, the Illinois-based automobile accessories company. The "You can't do that" challenge resonated with subjects who recognized the commercial itself, and interest in the brand amplified as the commercial progressed. WeatherTech's "Made in America" spot scored some of the highest points we've seen from a Super Bowl commercial. It seems America does aspire to a "can do" attitude. This commercial performed well on all metrics and scored significantly above average in major indices. WeatherTech's commercial ranked #1 out of the 53 commercials we tested.
  • Timing was favorable for WeatherTech: The coincidence of the "polar vortex" over much of the country may have led many subjects to be more open to messages about winter car-care products.
  • Over the past 20 years we have learned that to make a successful commercial you must do more than just entertain. You must have a clear message that resonates in a positive manner with the brand, and people need to feel a positive connection to the product being advertised. Ads also must positively affect purchase intent. The most successful commercials this year did all of that and more.

3. Which were the 5 best commercials? Why?

  • (1) WeatherTech Made in America: All three proprietary Socratic tools used to test the 53 Super Bowl commercials measured high scores for WeatherTech in the crucial areas of engagement, persuasion, positive messaging, brand recognition and increased purchase intent.
  • (2) Budweiser Puppy Love: People liked it; you might even say that with over-the-top scores for empathy and relevance, they loved it. Respondents made a real connection to the brand.
  • (3) Microsoft Technology: Highest score for relevance of all the commercials tested. Respondents found this commercial to be especially believable. Its visual richness resonated with respondents and this commercial had one of the highest scores for appeal.
  • (4) Budweiser Hero's Welcome: People responded with compassion to this commercial.
  • (5) Cheerios Gracie: Won the third highest score for empathy of all the commercials we tested. Adding a puppy to the new baby equation was a zinger that had respondents feeling really good about the product and brand. Our tests showed that respondents paid attention to this commercial during the entirety of the 30-second spot.

4. Which were the 5 worst-performing commercials? Why?

  • (49) BodyBuilder: Although entertainment value was average for this commercial (featuring Danica Patrick) it could not make up for the low scores in virtually all the other Socratic measures, leaving it with an overall impact ranking of 49 out of 53.
  • (50) Bud Light Epic Night, Continued: Although this commercial had an above-average score for entertainment value, it was found to be confusing, pointless and irritating to a great number of respondents. There was below-average interest in the message and low scores for attitude toward the ad and product.
  • (51) Audi Doberhuahua: Entertainment value in this commercial was above average. That's good. But a commercial needs to do more than entertain. The message must be clear and relevant to the brand. The message got lost in the shock value of the crossbred Doberhuahua. Respondents just could not make the connection to the brand.
  • (52) Maserati Strike: This commercial was recognizable to very few subjects. Those who did recognize it could not identify the advertiser's brand, and the ad scored below average for attitude toward the ad and product. There was no connection made with the little girl's story and the Maserati brand.
  • (53) SquareSpace A Better Web Awaits: Another example of high entertainment value, but low scores in almost all other measures. Respondents found very little appeal in this commercial. They found it confusing and uninformative. There was a small spike of interest initially, but it never found a footing and lost respondents' interest as it progressed.

5. Is "emotion" the new standard in ads in this venue?

  • Emotional response is important in the overall success of the highly visible commercials that air during the Super Bowl, but eliciting these reactions is not necessarily the new standard for commercials in this ad venue. In fact, the more rational, message-oriented nature of the top commercials played just as important a part in the success of the commercials as did their ability to generate emotional reactions.

6. Is "brand" getting lost in the "clutter of clever?"

  • In many cases "brand" is getting lost in the attempt to be clever. For example, the Toyota Muppets commercial: This was a humorous, fast-moving, energetic commercial that respondents liked. However, only a below-average number of respondents could identify the advertiser as Toyota and the ad did not help increase awareness of the brand.
  • Another example was the commercial for Audi, "Doberhuahua." Many respondents were entertained by this commercial, but almost all of the scores for other criteria were below average. There was so much going on in this commercial and, with such a strange creature featured throughout, respondents, in the end, could not name Audi as the advertiser and perceived the brand and product negatively.

7. Why do movie trailers generally perform better on Socratic's rating scale?

  • Movie trailers come much closer to giving the viewer a "free sample" of the actual product than any other type of advertising. As a result, movie trailers as a category perform better than other commercial categories and are best at increasing buying interestbetter than almost all other genres of Super Bowl commercials.

Detailed information about Socratic's advertising test results, including the diagnostics and ranking of all 53 Super Bowl ads, can be found on our website at or by calling (415) 430-2200.

About Socratic Technologies, Inc.
Socratic Technologies, Inc. is a leader in the science of computer-based and interactive research methods. Founded in 1994 and headquartered in San Francisco, it is a research-based consultancy that builds proprietary, interactive tools that accelerate and improve research methods for the study of global markets. Socratic Technologies specializes in product development, brand articulation and advertising research for the business-to-business and consumer products sectors.

CONTACT: Paul Shellenberg
(415) 430-2200

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