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The Social Touchdown: The Winning Advertisers of Super Bowl 50

Published by Engagement Labs February 10, 2016

It’s the television event of the year - the Super Bowl. The Big Game draws in millions of eyes from all around the world and never fails to be a bonanza for any spectator.

You would think audiences tune in for the good ol’ game of football, however, as the years have progressed, the Super Bowl has become an advertising spectacle. Usually the bane of a TV viewer’s existence, the commercials at the Super Bowl are considered to be one of the main attractions, which is why we see advertisers dishing out a lot of money to get their spot in the limelight.

Spending millions to ensure they get audiences talking about their brands, advertisers work hard to be the most buzzworthy before, during and after the game. Thanks to the social media revolution, brands now have the opportunity to release their TV spots online earlier to generate buzz leading up to the big game.

Based on USA Today’s 2016 Ad Meter Results, Engagement Labs investigated the top three brands with the most popular commercials from Super Bowl 50 to see how they leveraged social media to generate hype leading up to and during the big event:

1. Hyundai

Kevin Hart as an overprotective father intruding on his daughter’s date to intimidate her potential boyfriend - what more do you need in an advertisement? Taking the first spot for most popular ad of Super Bowl 50, Hyundai also had two other game day ads make Ad Meter’s top ten rankings.

With commercials helmed by Kevin Hart and Ryan Reynolds, audiences were laughing offline, but online we saw a different story.

The day of the game, Hyundai ranked fourth on Facebook with an overall eValue score of 89.9 and the third highest Engagement score of the top ten. In contrast, the brand didn’t make the eValue top ten on either Twitter or Instagram.

super bowl social data

What happened? Posting to their social channels only a few times in comparison to their fellow advertisers, Hyundai missed ample opportunity to score big time with fans online. While they created their own hashtag #HyundaiSuperBowl, the brand missed many viewers by not taking advantage of the popular #SB50 and #SuperBowl hashtags that were trending game day.

2. Heinz

Turns out dachshunds dressed as hot dogs and humans dressed as Ketchup bottles seem to be the things audiences were craving, as Heinz’s social media channels hurdled towards the end zone the day of the Big Game after their commercial featuring the wieners and the ‘Ketchup Family’ aired.

With the second highest-rated commercial of the Super Bowl, Heinz scored a touchdown on game day with not only viewers, but online audiences as indicated by such successes as:

  • First place for eValue score on Twitter
  • The highest Engagement and Impact scores of the top ten advertisers on Twitter
  • Most retweets, favorites and mentions per 1,000 fans of the top ten on Twitter
  • Most active user base on Twitter
  • Third place for eValue score on Facebook
  • The highest Engagement score of 94.29 of the top ten advertisers on Facebook
  • Most likes and shares per 1,000 fans on Facebook

Releasing extended versions of the commercial, introducing the ‘Ketchup Family’ and leveraging the hashtag #SB50, the brand generated fan engagement throughout the game, cashing in on the positive reception to their ad.

3. Doritos

The crunchy, flavorful snack stole a play from Hyundai’s game plan by launching a few advertisements during the Super Bowl, two of which dominated the top five ads of the game.

While the brand’s ‘Ultrasound’ and ‘Doritos Dogs’ advertisements had audiences chuckling all the way to their chip bowls at home, Doritos struggled to translate this offline success into an online goal, similar to Hyundai.

On Twitter, the brand placed eighth for eValue score, experiencing the largest fan growth out of all advertisers on game day - indicating audiences were paying attention to their commercials. Here’s how they tackled the Twittersphere:

  • Leveraging the #SB50 hashtag
  • Calls to action for fans to retweet depending on which team they believed would win
  • Tweeting over 60 times the day of the game - playing into Twitter's real-time nature
  • Posting varied content such as their advertisements, amusing images and even shoutouts to fellow advertisers such as Pokémon

Looking at the other channels, Doritos didn’t crack the top ten for either Facebook or Instagram. Posting both their commercials on Facebook, the ‘Ultrasound’ ad generated 19,700 likes and 21,600 shares.

Comparing it to the ‘Doritos Dogs’ ad, the second advertisement garnered less than half that engagement. Using the #SB50 hashtag with the ‘Ultrasound’ post extended the reach to various audiences who were tracking the hashtag, resulting in high engagement with the ad.

Honorable Mention: Budweiser

While Budweiser may have been beat out by other brands, their blunt, yet amusing, commercial starring Dame Helen Mirren ranked ninth on Ad Meter’s list. The brand’s success didn’t stop there, as we saw them soar on social media too.

Ranking first on Facebook, the day of the game, Budwesier also scored the highest Responsiveness of the top ten on the channel, by responding to every comment with witty responses that leveraged their brand’s game day hashtag #NotBackingDown.

Encouraging fans to take a stance against drunk driving, the topic addressed by their entertaining advertisement, they also called on fans to use the hashtag #GiveADamn and take a stance with the brand at

On Twitter, the brand placed a close second overall with the highest Impact score of all advertisers and the highest Responsiveness of the top ten. Attaching themselves to the event through the official hashtags, while emphasizing their powerful message, Budweiser is the perfect example of a brand translating offline chatter into online buzz.

The Final Huddle

Brands are paying millions of dollars for their TV spots during the Super Bowl, so you’re guaranteed to have people discussing offline. But many brands forget that social media can keep the conversations going both online and offline.

The Super Bowl is the omni channel for online and offline conversations and offers an opportunity to advertisers to grow their reach unlike any other event. It’s not enough to put your blood, sweat and tears into one medium. Focus on both and you’ll ultimately get to do that victory dance you've been saving!

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About eValue™:

The eValue™ score measures the effectiveness of a brand’s overall social media performance on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Instagram and provides a score from 0 - 100. It’s the aggregate of the three subscores including Engagement, Impact, and Responsiveness that work together to create one top-level KPI. Our subscores are calculated by using hundreds of submetrics which are then benchmarked against a hand-picked database of 100,000 verified brand accounts on each channel.

Engagement: Measures the level of interaction generated by your content and how well your community reacts to it.

Impact: Measures how many unique users have potentially been exposed to a piece of content posted by the channel’s admin through organic, viral and paid reach.

Responsiveness: Measures the rate, speed and quality of your responses to fans.