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Super Bowl 2020: The Winners in Driving Buzz (And They Aren’t the Winners of the USA Today Ad Meter)

Published by Engagement Labs February 13, 2020

Bud Light Seltzer Super Bowl Ad 2020

A month ago, we declared in Marketing Dive, that USA Today's Ad Meter — the most widely used indicator of advertising success in the big game — "doesn't work, and it is destined to fail again next month.” We based this on an extensive analysis of Super Bowl ad study published in the peer reviewed Journal of Advertising Research.

Once again this year, we see Super Bowl ads that drive the most offline and online social engagement – engagement that leads to proven business outcomes – are not the ones highly rated on the popularity charts. And similarly, the most popular ads measured by USA Today are often not achieving the highly important goal of creating the buzz that drives consumer behavior. 

None of the top three performers in the USA Today Ad Meter – Jeep, Hyundai and Google – managed to crack the top 30 in terms of driving offline brand advocacy. In fact, while the average Super Bowl advertiser this year saw a 49% increase in water cooler buzz after the Big Game, none of these three saw an increase at all. And online, none were in the top 10 and all were well below the advertiser average of a 110% increase in online chatter.


So, who won the battle for the water cooler buzz in 2020?  Once again it was a Budweiser brand, this time with Bud Light Seltzer.  In the USA Today Ad Meter it didn’t crack the top 10. 

The winner in online chatter, Coke Zero Energy, was ranked #47 by USA Today. Only Pepsi Zero Sugar ranks in the top 5 for both offline and online consumer conversations.

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