On the whole, this year’s Super Bowl commercials failed to make an impact. Without a major viral hit like Tide’s legendary “It’s A Tide Ad” campaign or an infamous mascot like last year’s Baby Nut to drive memes and hatred, discourse around this year’s slew of advertisements fizzled out by the time the game came back on screen. Despite a captive audience of stuck-at-home viewers, this year's super bowl had its lowest ratings since 2007, according to data released by ViacomCBS.
That lack of enthusiasm wasn’t just from viewers, but from the ad buyers themselves. CBS was selling 30-second ad buys for $5.5 million, according to Variety, but it took much longer to sell out all available spaces than in previous years. The final ad space for last weekend’s game was closed in late January 2021, whereas the previous Super Bowl’s final ad space was closed in November 2019.
Many Super Bowl ads are also released early nowadays, often a week before they air during the event — creating an even longer runway for them to fizzle out. Dolly Parton’s “5-9” SquareSpace ad, for example, generated a fair amount of conversation on Twitter at first, but faded away in a matter of days. By the time the Super Bowl came around, nobody had anything left to say about it
But even in a year where enthusiasm around Super Bowl ads was at a record low, social media data shows there were still some standout winners and losers among the ad buyers. We’ve listed the companies whose ads saw the biggest immediate return on investment, and those who barely made a dent — or were dented themselves.
GM's advertisement, which featured Will Ferrell, Keenan Thompson and Awkwafina, highlighted the company's recently-announced effort to introduce 30 new electric vehicles by 2025, helped the legacy auto manufacturer experience a bump back into relevance. Facebook Talking About Counts in particular are up dramatically as compared to earlier this year and even just days before the Super Bowl. Facebook buzz peaked at 49.5k mentions today, nearly two full days after the commercial aired — a 7,984% increase year-to-date. Twitter following is also up, though not as significantly as on Facebook, bringing in 3,000 new followers since the Friday before the game.
Cheetos are already a popular snack brand on Facebook, with 1.57 million likes, but its Super Bowl ad featuring Mila Kunis, Ashton Kutcher and Shaggy of all people singing a version of "It Wasn't Me" has made the powdery snack even more popular. Facebook Talking About Counts are up over 10,000% year-to-date thanks to the commercial. Over 248,000 of those mentions alone came since Friday, and numbers are continuing to climb, showing the ad was a hit on the platform. The brand's Twitter account, branded after Cheetos mascot Chester Cheetah, has raked in an additional 1,000 followers since the weekend.
Rocket Mortgage by Quicken Loans squeezes into the winners list with its ad featuring Tracy Jordan and Dave Bautista. Facebook Talking About Counts don't look like they've increased dramatically at first glance — the count has only increased from 16.9k to 20.5k — but that's still a 20% increase in just one day. The company's Twitter following also grew by about 1,500 followers in the same span of time.
While the above three companies experienced a significant jump in Facebook Talking About Counts, Twitter following only marginally increased for all three, perhaps because of the pace at which information gets churned through the platform.
Sandwich maker Jimmy Johns has been on a slow social media decline for years, even without a flop of a Super Bowl Ad. Since we first began tracking the company in 2017, its Facebook Likes and Talking About Counts have decreased by 1.5% and 84%, respectively. This year's ad did little to change that trajectory. Talking About counts actually went down significantly since Friday, and dipped especially low on Saturday and Sunday during the game. The company's Twitter following has remained completely stagnant since the ad aired, though it has lost 3,000 followers since the new year.
Much like with Jimmy Johns, delivery app Doordash failed to stick the landing with its Big Bird ad and Talking About Counts are moving in the wrong direction. Their mentions dipped over 11% since Friday, again with the greatest drop occurring between Saturday and Sunday. Twitter following has also barely moved.
Still, Doordash's Facebook Likes are up since the new year, which means people may still be using their service more — even if they aren't talking about it on Facebook.
Statefarm's ad featuring Drake and Paul Rudd didn't make much of a splash on Facebook or Twitter. Talking About Counts are up, but dipped low over the weekend and still are only just barely higher than they were on Friday, and nowhere near their year-to-date high from last month. Twitter following, like the other two brands on the loser list, has hardly moved at all despite the major celebrities State Farm put on display. However, the ad is doing well on Youtube, where it's raked in 1.4 million views and is #13 on the site's trending list at the time of writing.
About the Data:
Thinknum tracks companies using the information they post online, jobs, social and web traffic, product sales, and app ratings, and creates data sets that measure factors like hiring, revenue, and foot traffic. Data sets may not be fully comprehensive (they only account for what is available on the web), but they can be used to gauge performance factors like staffing and sales.