What Super Bowl Commercial Lists Do For Brands And Audiences

Every year around the Super Bowl we see lists like these pop up: The 'Top' or 'Best' or 'Most [insert adjective]' Super Bowl Commercial(s) of All-Time/Year/Decade, etc. The main reason these lists pop-up (seemingly everywhere) is part commercial and part cultural. So why does it still matter to make a list when everyone has a different favorite Super Bowl commercial?

Brands and companies want to stay in the "conversation," so they create content around the topic of conversation, which during this time is the Super Bowl. Lists are easy fast reads, and the best ones are fun and creative. Not only that, lists make up 53% of the top performing blog posts on social and 30% of the top 25 shared content on social media (Source: Business2Community). So the main commercial motivation for a brand or company to do a list would be with the hope that it goes viral and they get a boost in engagement, followers, and exposure.

From the consumer's point of view, lists give us cultural feedback on what we already know and what we don't know. Lists help us organize our thoughts and feelings on a subject. Finding meaning and understanding is a part of the human experience, and Super Bowl commercials are a big part of the American experience. Although I don't really follow football or understand the rules, football has been a part of my life and continues to be a topic of conversation and interest with my friends, family, and colleagues. The Super Bowl is about having a collective group experience. I played my flute at all the football games in high school as a member of symphonic band, and when we weren't marching we were watching the games and having fun together as a group. The Super Bowl commands an average 112.2 million viewers each year, over a third of the U.S. population (Source: Census). Is it any wonder why brands advertise the hardest during the Super Bowl (Source: Nielsen)?

Brands and advertisers measure a commercial's success or performance based on how effective it was in achieving certain set goals. For instance, how effective was the commercial in reaching its audience? How effective was the commercial in increasing purchase intent? Did the commercial go viral on social media? How many times was it viewed, played, shared...? And so on. If you ask me what my favorite Super Bowl commercial is, it's going to be one that I can't forget. The best commercial, or the most popular commercial, or most defining commercial for a brand is going to be the one that people can't forget. That's why I think memorability is the most important factor in assessing the performance of a commercial. After all, I got inspired to write this post because of a commercial I remember that I saw a mom of my generation tweeted recently:

How much a brand's profits increased because of a commercial, I think, is strongly dependent on how memorable that commercial was for the consumer. Lilly is just one of many people out there who, if you asked them what they would name their favorite Super Bowl commercial, it would be one that still sticks with them to this day.

Creating memorable commercial campaigns is as important as being strategic in creating effective commercial campaigns and a successful brand legacy.

Nielsen uses two indexes for measuring the effectiveness of a Super Bowl commercial, one is the memorability index and the other is the like ability index (Source: MarkingCharts.com). Like Lilly, The Joy of Pepsi commercial is my favorite Super Bowl commercial too. It's memorable and makes you feel like dancing too. Also, I'm a girl so I'm going to naturally gravitate to something more girly, and I'm also a fan of Britney Spears. The production and choreography is great as well. So why does it still matter to make Super Bowl commercial lists? Memories. Advertisers and brands understand the power of emotional branding, and remembering what their target audience grew up watching and enjoying allows them to better understand how to create a campaign that plays on those memories, so that we associate the brand with the good feelings we associated with the memory. In the case of Super Bowl commercials, we all have a different favorite but we bond over the discussion of all of them. That's how we further connect as a society, through shared experiences and conversation.