The Top Five Most 'Emotionally Engaging' Super Bowl Ads

Media-Research Firm Innerscope: It's the Economy, Stupid

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NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- Media-research firm Innerscope concluded that the most "emotionally engaging" ads -- surprisingly or not -- were those that in one way or another channeled concerns about the economy. That CareerBuilder and Cash4Gold ranked highest in the firm's subconscious scale only speaks to what many already know; people are worried about their finances.

CareerBuilder's spot ranked highest on Innerscope's subconscious scale.
CareerBuilder's spot ranked highest on Innerscope's subconscious scale.
Tapping the unconscious
"Your unconscious emotions reveal what your conscious thoughts cannot,'' said Dr. Carl Marci, a co-director of Boston-based Innerscope, which gauges a person's emotional response through biometric vests, and former director of Social Neuroscience for the Psychotherapy Research Program at Massachusetts General Hospital. "The benefit of biometrics is that we can identify how people truly feel, and the economy is pervasive."

Dr. Marci, who served as the guest editor of the International Journal of Advertising's special issue on neuromarketing, contends that his method of weighing subconscious emotional engagement is the most objective measurement of whether an ad is well-received.

He first applied his research to last year's raft of Super Bowl ads, strapping 30 willing Giants and Patriots fans into these vests in a hotel room in Boston (hardly neutral ground, he admits), furnishing them with snacks, couches and one alcoholic beverage an hour, and then letting them watch as normal. He also auctioned off a 15-inch flat-screen TV.

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For this year's data gathering, 46 culturally diverse participants aged 21-35 -- who were closely split among Steelers and Cardinals fans and balanced between men and women -- were brought together in New York.

No overlap with USA Today
Innerscope's results differ from USA Today's Ad Meter because, Dr. Marci said, the newspaper's survey is based on conscious persuasion and reflects how people want to, or believe they should, think.

Along with the CareerBuilder and Cash4Gold, Castrol Oil's monkey humor and GoDaddy's familiar pitch rounded out the three and four spots. Bud Light's "Boardroom" spot was the fifth most resonant. There was no overlap with USA Today's rankings, which gave the Doritos' Crystal Ball ad the No. 1 spot. Budweiser's pair of Clydesdale ads, Bridgestone's Mr. Potato Head commercial and a second Dorito's spot rounded out the Ad Meter's top five.

Innerscope InnerScore Ranking:
1. Career Builder: It's Time
2. Cash4Gold: Heeere's Money
3. Castrol Oil: Monkeys
4. GoDaddy: Shower
5. Bud Light: Meeting

Dr. Marci uses a classic iceberg metaphor to explain his theory. He says the majority of brain processes -- 75% to 90% -- occur on a subconscious level, so tapping into the physical responses of those processes is most accurate.

"There's no benchmark for dial testing, which is a cognitive measure," explained Dr. Marci. "Although it's accepted, it's far too disruptive. Biomeasures are passive -- much more natural."

To analyze these metrics, Dr. Marci uses a lightweight wireless vest designed to measure what he describes as the four most-telling biometric indicators: heart rate, respiration, movement and perspiration. Combined, Dr. Marci said these metrics paint an accurate picture of subconscious approval.

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