Patriots scooped 6th victory, but which commercial scooped most fan engagement?

On Sunday February 4, fans of the NFL gathered to cheer their team to victory and, of course, enjoy the commercials that have come to define the spectacle almost as much as the football.

Advertising at the Super Bowl is unlike any other event. The extensive number of viewers and atmosphere of the game gives a commercial more power than any other time in the year. Here at Crisp, we have been analyzing this power to identify the most successful commercial and brand of the Big Game in terms of social engagement. Crisp Labs has looked at each advertisement from the week preceding the championship game and up to five hours after it ended and investigated the Facebook Reactions made by customers to determine who won the Social Super Bowl

This infographic gives you the headline stats. Keep reading for Crisp Labs' full analysis

Super Bowl Commercials-blog

Download the infographic here

Jeep’s star-spangled success

Jeep’s “illustrative narration” of the Star Spangled Banner outperformed all other commercials over the course of the Super Bowl in terms of Crisp Labs’ Social Reaction Index . . . and yet, this commercial did not actually air on TV during the Big Game.

Fiat Chrysler (owner of Jeep) once again showed what innovation during the Super Bowl can achieve. Its digital blitz over the weekend of the Big Game received 193% more Facebook Reactions than the second most reacted to advert, Ram (also owned by Fiat Chrysler), and a larger viewership than the Super Bowl itself. The success of both Jeep and Dodge Ram in airing their commercials outside of the traditional in-game slots suggests a limitation of these costly slots in generating viewer engagement. The future is meeting the fans where they interact with brands – online. 

Any brand hoping to utilize the power of social media in its advertising strategy must also be aware of the risks involved. With over 3 billion social media users worldwide, all with 24/7 access to a brand’s page, content with the potential to trigger a PR issue could be posted at any time. A system that monitors and moderates all content posted is crucial to ensure that a brand’s reputation is maintained.

Using the feel-good factor

However, the answer to Jeep’s success is not only due to its innovative distribution. Its content chimed with sentiments of this year’s crowd. Where overtly political commercials have dominated in the past, this year brands favored light-hearted and feel-good content.

Jeep’s “More Than Just Words” is rooted in a patriotism that stimulates warmth and nostalgia. Not only is America’s national anthem used, but the pictures illustrating the lyrics are also representative of American culture: we see an iconic yellow cab hailed on a wet NYC sidewalk, a child stealing second base in a flurry of dust, a veteran donning his crisp uniform. . . This sentiment not only supports the brand (Jeep’s image has long been an all-American company) but the spirit of the Super Bowl itself. Patriotism has allowed Jeep’s commercial to resonate further than anticipated.

However, this star-spangled advert was not without the potential for controversy. The past two years has seen NFL players kneeling at the national anthem in protest against police brutality and receiving backlash even from the President of the United States himself. Since then, other commercials utilizing the anthem have received criticism.

When a brand’s advert has been executed, it is important to review it again just before airing, to see how it may be perceived in light of recent issues. This quick check makes a company able to identify potential areas of risk and prepare how best to tackle them. Once the advert is aired, all communication channels must be monitored continuously to keep ahead of unfolding crises. With the success of their commercial, Jeep has clearly performed this well as, although their commercial did create the most Angry Reactions of any brand after the NFL, this was only 1.6% of the total number of Reactions, compared to Love which made up 22%. Jeep’s careful preparation has been key to ensuring the success of their commercial.

Stella chooses nostalgia over cause-marketing

In light of this preference, cause-based advertising has taken a back seat. Although Stella’s ‘Pour it Forward’ campaign was highlighted at the end of their commercial, it was not the main focus of their advertisement. Instead, laughter and nostalgia were evoked to provide the audience with a moment’s relief from the weight of social responsibility that seems to dominate today’s advertising.

Their advert saw retired fictional American icons, Carrie Bradshaw (Sex and the City) and ‘The Dude’ Lebowski (The Big Lebowski, a film so entwined with US culture that it is now part of the National Film Registry), resurface and swap their preferred drinks for a Stella. The nostalgia, combined with humor, resulted in great success, generating the most Haha Reactions and the third most Reactions overall.

Super Bowl 53 Patriots up 10-3 tweetWho stole the show?

Overall, the NFL brand gathered most interactions. This is perhaps unsurprising given the volume of posts they generated in their coverage of the game.

However, not every Facebook Reaction generated by the NFL’s content was a positive one. 91% of the posts which generated the most Angry Reactions were from the NFL, with the announcement of New England Patriots’ 6th win of the Championship generating more Angry Reactions than any other post of the entire Super Bowl. With emotions running high at this climactic point of such a high profile event, disappointment and anger could easily have turned into abuse, scandal or hate speech.

Many commented that Super Bowl 53 was steady and even verged on boring at times, which thankfully was true for the advertisers’ PR teams too. Apart from Bud Light, which issued a well-prepared statement defending their censure of corn syrup in their beer, reputational issues were unusually quiet this year. However, this is the exception and not the rule at such big events, which tend to exacerbate the risk of PR issues with the sheer volume of interactions.  

In fact, every brand was at a high risk of experiencing an online Super Bowl crisis and it was crucial that every PR team kept their eyes on the ball when it came to moderating and monitoring their social media channels, before, during, and in the hours and days after the Championship.

To find out more about monitoring your brand’s online reputation at big events and 24/7 throughout the year, email