This AI Platform Determined Which Super Bowl Ads Motivated Viewers to Buy Products

Ashton Kutcher might not be able to sing, but he did make people want Cheetos

Influential, an AI-based platform, used social listening tools to measure response to the 2021 Super Bowl ads.

As is tradition, there’s been lots of chatter over the last 24 hours about which Super Bowl ads were the best, worst, funniest or most heartwarming. But which ads actually inspired people to buy things?

Influential, an AI-powered platform supported by IBM’s Watson, analyzed 278 million social media posts throughout the night to answer that question and several others—including which celebrity appearances created the most buzz, how many viewers knew which brand sponsored the halftime show and which moments generated the most conversation overall.

Americans love their snack brands

While Ashton Kutcher may have proved to Americans last night that he can’t carry a tune, the Cheetos ad that he starred in alongside Mila Kunis and Shaggy had the highest number of social posts that indicated an intent to buy, according to Influential.

Cheetos was followed up by another Frito-Lay brand: Doritos. Its Flat Matthew spot, starring a dimensionally troubled Matthew McConaughey, touted the brand’s Doritos 3D Crunch product—a throwback that also proves to cure McConaughey’s condition. Bud Light Seltzer Lemonade took third place with a spot that reimagined the chaos of 2020 as an assault by real citrus fruits, M&M’s spot starring Schitt’s Creek’s Dan Levy took fourth and Michelob Ultra rounded out the top five.

For an event that’s known to revolve around snacks, those might not come as a surprise. But compared to previous years, the overall conversation focused less on snacks and more on music and celebrity, according to Influential’s data.

That was in part due to the number of “celebrity-focused spots that used music integrations with multiple talent,” Ryan Detert, Influential CEO, told Adweek.

Brands heavily leaned on celebrities for ads this year, with nearly 70 famous athletes, musicians, influencers and actors making an appearance in ads throughout the night. In a year when tone proved especially difficult due to the pandemic and political divide, it seems brands turned to VIP voices for humor and distraction.

Cheetos swept the social media game

Of those celebrity appearances though, the stars of the Cheetos ad swept the field again—generating the highest number of social mentions, according to Influential. Drake, who appeared alongside Jake in State Farm’s Super Bowl spot, was the second most talked about A-lister. Next was comedian Amy Schumer as the Fairy God Mayo in the Hellmann’s ad about condiments and food waste, then Dan Levy in M&M’s ad. Jeep’s two-minute long ad starring Bruce Springsteen gained the legendary musician the fifth-most mentions on social.

But of all the most discussed moments of the game, the Super Bowl ads only accounted for 10% of the total, Influential reported. Super Bowl Halftime Show performer The Weeknd was the heart of 14% of social media buzz, the Kansas City Chiefs at 15% and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers with 19%. Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady alone generated 16% of total discussion and in-game moments accounted for the remaining 26% of chatter on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, TikTok, Reddit, forums and blogs analyzed.

Influential also surveyed more than 20,000 people to find that only 50% of respondents correctly identified Pepsi as the sponsor of the Super Bowl Halftime Show—but that’s up from 49% last year.

While Americans may not come to an agreement on which ads were the best, at least most viewers appreciated poet Amanda Gorman’s performance. Social media response for her poem, “Chorus of Captains,” garnered a positive response from 94% of viewers.

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