While humor and nostalgia may have dominated the Super Bowl this year, Super Bowl 2020’s most effective ad was one that tugged at the heartstrings. According to video ad tech company Unruly, Google’s “Loretta” was the most effective ad of the year.
Unruly derives measures an ad’s effectiveness based on analyzing the emotional responses of more than 2,500 viewers, weighing emotional engagement and brand impact, including brand favorability and purchase intent to arrive at an EQ score on a 10-point scale.
“Loretta” earned an EQ score of 6.5 thanks in large part to its large emotional impact. Nearly half (49%) of viewers had an intense emotional reaction to the ad. It was a 58% more intense reaction than the average U.S. ad and the highest of any of the 40 Super Bowl ads tested by Unruly. According to the company, “Loretta” was nearly twice as likely to make viewers smile, almost four times more heart-warming and 12 times more sad than the average U.S. ad.
The emotional reaction also seemed to translate to brand impact, leading to the highest brand favorability of any of the Super Bowl ads Unruly. Nearly half (49%) of all viewers reported a favorable view of the brand, compared to a U.S. average of 37%. What’s more—46% of viewers also reported purchase intent, with 47% saying they were willing to find out more about the brand.
“The Super Bowl is traditionally the chance for advertisers to bring home the laughs, yet two of the top three ads leaned heavily on more serious emotions. Google’s ‘Loretta’ ad had the highest score for sadness in the top 10 and both Google and New York Life Insurance had some of the highest scores for warmth at 32% and 26%, respectively,” Unruly vp, U.S. insights and solutions Terence
Scroope said in a statement. “It really shows how leaning into more unusual emotions can help brands stand out during the funny ads usually dished out during the Super Bowl.”
Cheetos was the runner-up with its “Can’t Touch This” spot for Cheetos Popcorn starring MC Hammer scoring a 6.1. Humor seemed to translate; 38% of viewers had an intense emotional reaction to the ad. While 42% of viewers reported brand favorability, over half of viewers (56%) reported purchase intent for the new product.
New York Life rounded out the top three with its sentimental “Love Takes Action” spot earning an EQ score of 6. The ad also narrowly trailed Google for emotional impact, with 47% of viewers reporting an intense emotional reaction to the ad. That emotional impact translated to 46% brand favorability.
Doritos trailed closely behind with an ad that took a very different approach. “The Cool Ranch” and its epic dance battle earned an EQ score of 5.9. While 39% reported an intense emotional impact, the ad and its promise of a “cooler” cool ranch translated to 36% saying they were open to finding out more about the brand, a longtime staple of the American snack market.
Weathertech’s emotional dog story “Lucky Dog” closed out the top five with an EQ score of 5.8 with 42% of viewers felt an intense emotional reaction to the ad, and the message translated to brand favorability with 48% of viewers.
Microsoft once again entered Unruly’s list of most effective ads in 2020. While the ad failed to reach the heights of last year’s most effective Super Bowl ad, the brand’s “We All Win,” which scored a 7.5, “Be The One” and its story of San Francisco 49ers assistant coach Katie Sowers still managed a strong 5.7 EQ rating. It also was named the “most emotionally effective ad” by London-based marketing firm System1.
Jeep’s “Groundhog Day” spot featuring Bill Murray reprising his role from the classic comedy was the most likely to make viewers laugh. According to Unruly, 21% of viewers reported finding the ad funny, five times more than the average U.S. ad. Unruly also found it the Super Bowl ad most likely to make audiences happy, with 25% responding that it made them smile. It added up to an Unruly EQ score of 5.5.