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Data on spending trends across categories, viewers’ reactions, impact on commercial ratings, and social-media buzz are included in a TNS analysis of Super Bowl commercial winners and losers issued this week.

TNS Media Intelligence, TNS Media Research, TNS Media and Entertainment and TNS Media Intelligence/Cymfony provided the information. Below, among the findings released by TNS.

Advertising Trends across Brand Categories

Record-Setting Level of Ad Time

Super Bowl XLII featured a record-setting amount of network commercial time, according to TNS Media Intelligence:

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  • Between the opening kickoff and the final gun, Fox aired 45:10 mm:ss of advertising messages, including paying sponsors, messages from the NFL and promotional plugs from Fox for its own programming.
  • The past three games now occupy the top three spots in terms of Super Bowl ad clutter:

Category Wars: Battle of the Brands

Anheuser-Busch was again the exclusive beer advertiser in the Super Bowl – in contrast to the message clutter from movie studios and non-alcoholic beverage brands:

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  • Consistent with recent years’ trend, eight motion pictures were advertised in the game – the largest number of competing messages from any single category.
  • There was a surge in advertising from non-alcoholic beverages, as well:
    • Six brands aired spots in the game, an all-time high for this segment.
    • Along with the familiar presence of Pepsi and Coke sodas, there were competing messages for energy drinks (Gatorade; Amp) and flavored waters (SoBe Life; Glaceau Vitamin Water).
  • Combined, movies and non-alcoholic beverages accounted for approximately 30% of the paid ad time in the game.

Second-by-Second Commercial Ratings

TNS Media Research analyzed audience viewing behavior during the game and the commercial breaks. The following highlights are based on second-by-second clickstream data collected from over 300,000 Households (HHs) in the Charter Communications Los Angeles digital cable system:

  • On average, 30.3% of HHs tuned in to the game itself. The pre-game show averaged a 23.7% rating, while over 33.7% of homes viewed at least one second of the post-game award presentation.
  • 5.7% of HHs viewed the game on FOX-HD – close to 19% of the total audience.
  • As expected, few viewers tuned away from the commercial breaks during the game with the spot-to-program retention index averaging 100 (Commercial Viewing Index):
    • The highest commercial retention score went to the Ford F Truck – F Series 30-second commercial, which posted a 112 in the spot just prior to kick-off.
    • Not surprisingly, the lowest commercial retention occurred during the post-game as viewing dropped from a rating of 31.4% to 21.6%: The last pod, airing prior to House, averaged a CVI retention score of 78.
  • A second-by-second look at commercial avoidance reveals that less than 1% of commercial seconds were avoided by channel changing.
  • The FOX-HD audience was even less likely to tune away, with only 0.5% of those seconds being lost, perhaps reflecting that almost all of the Super Bowl advertising was presented in high definition.

Which Commercials Delivered on Their $2 Million+ Price Tag

TNS Media and Entertainment surveyed online a nationally representative sample of 1,048 adults 18-54 years of age on Monday February 4 who had watched the Super Bowl victory over the New England Patriots. All respondents were panelists from the TNS 6th Dimension Interactive Panel. Among the findings:

Levels of Recall

On average, each Super Bowl viewer recalled 39 commercials. The E*Trade Financial Services commercial featuring the talking baby garnered the highest level of recall – 70% of all Super Bowl viewers. The following closely followed:

  • Bud Light: Jackie Moon (69% recall)
  • Budweiser: Horse training to Rocky theme (67% recall)
  • Sobe LifeWater: Naomi Campbell with lizards (67% recall)
  • E*Trade Financial: Talking baby with clown in background (66% recall)

Best- and Worst-Performing Ads

All 79 commercials broadcast during the game were evaluated on three dimensions among respondents who recalled the commercials – commercial likeability, positive brand impact, future purchase consideration – which comprise the Commercial Performance Index (CPI).

The best performing commercials based on the TNS CPI were as follows:

  • Budweiser: Horse Training to Rocky Theme (+387 CPI)
  • Coca Cola Classic: Charlie Brown Balloon (+373 CPI)
  • Bridgestone Tires: Screaming Animals (+352 CPI)
  • National Football League: Living A Dream (+321 CPI)

The ads ranked with the lowest CPI:

  • SalesGenie.com; Ramesh (-307 CPI)
  • SalesGenie.com: Pandas (-237 CPI)
  • Zantac (-129 CPI)
  • Sunsilk (-118 CPI)

Pod Position Effects

TNS researchers also uncovered an interesting finding: ads in the first pod position had higher average CPI scores than ads elsewhere in the commercial break. This has relevance to the ongoing industry discussion about commercial placement and commercial pod construction.

Buzz Generated in Social Media

TNS Media Intelligence/Cymfony analyzed the level of online discussion about Super Bowl commercials on social media. As of mid-day Monday, February 4, only seven brands were generating significant levels of discussion.

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High Volume of Discussion

  • Overall, viewers are highly positive toward the ads. Anheuser-Busch (representing the sum of discussion of all individual Budweiser and Bud Light ads) is getting twice the conversation of second-place Audi.
  • GoDaddy is getting significant discussion but it skews negative. Strong negative feelings are, understandably, a driver of discussion.
  • Coca-Cola discussion is extraordinarily positive – viewers enjoyed the Balloon and Carville/Frist ads.
  • Both TNS’s CPI scores and Cymfony’s analysis put Anheuser Busch, Bridgestone and E*Trade in the top tier.
  • Interestingly, a number of advertisers did well in CPI, but not in social media discussion, including NFL, Tide and most in the movies category.

Low Volume of Discussion

Salesgenie.com has low volume, but the posts are strongly negative. Many of them express the opinion that the commercial used racially offensive stereotypes.

This year, ads with upbeat, positive messages were effective with consumers and also generated additional brand value in word of mouth.

See TNS’s Super Bowl XLII 2008 Creative Log for a complete log of all Super Bowl 2008 commercials and the full detail of TNS’s Super Bowl research.

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