Exclusive: Bud tops study of Super Bowl spots

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Budweiser's clydesdales won the advertising crown in the Super Bowl, based upon measures of message recall, brand recall and "likeability," according to a study by Intermedia Advertising Group. But Anheuser-Busch's pool of Budweiser spots on the game ranked low for purchase intent in a second study from Merwyn Technology.

IAG's study polled 2,768 consumers on recall and likeability through four Super Bowl specific games on RewardTV.com that also asked questions about the ads. The range of responses on a per-ad basis was wide; the smallest sample was 205 and largest was 968. Error range is 4.2% with a 90% confidence level.

budding effort

Of the seven spots Anheuser-Busch aired, only two indexed lower than other ads on Super Bowl XXXVI, IAG found; five were among the top 10 most-liked spots of the pool. Anheuser-Busch's Cedric executions rated high on both brand (142 as indexed against 100) and message recall (154). Bud's Sept. 11 tribute spot turned out to be the most-liked commercial on the game (indexing at 188) and the second-highest rated ad by brand recall of all the game's spots (152). The top slot in brand recall went to Pepsi-Cola Co.'s Britney Spears commercials.

But the Britney effort was also the game's most polarizing. It ranked as the most disliked spot (indexed at 552) in the IAG poll; it also indexed at 153 for respondents saying they "liked it a lot." Pepsi "had the highest [hated] and [liked] scores," said IAG President Cheryl Idell, adding, "Pepsi is reaching more of the masses on the Super Bowl than it otherwise would, but it is also turning off more consumers."

The biggest loser, according to IAG, was AT&T Wireless; its mlife, which, for all its hyped lead-in, drew three slots in the top 20 most disliked ads. None of its five spots indexed above 65 in likeability; three ads scored less than 60 across the three measures. An AT&T spokesman responded by citing a Jupiter Media Metrix report showing traffic to mlife.com spiked Feb. 3 to 681,000 unique visitors, more than any other marketer's site during the game.

But while the teaser campaign may have driven traffic, Internet performance-tracking firm Gomez showed attempts to access mlife.com failed 89% to 92% during the first half of the game. AT&T's spokesman said the company fixed its traffic problems. "Our objective was to create a buzz about the idea of mlife and connection of mlife to AT&T Wireless," he said.

Merwyn's purchase-intent model skewed toward harder working retail spots, showing General Motors' Cadillac Escalade and Subway Restaurants topping winners with 51% and 50% persuasion rankings. By contrast, Pepsi, Anheuser-Busch and mlife tied for last-place ranking with persuasion scores of 10% or less.

To compile the Merwyn model, a trio of researchers input data for 77 factors the company claims are most predictive relative to retail scanner data, including benefits promised, superiority claims and believability reasons for each ad. The model then predicts the rate of success in persuading consumers to purchase the product.

"If the purpose isn't to sell the product, then we're not going to score it well," said Merwyn CEO Doug Hall, adding that measures such as likeability don't necessarily translate into sales.

contributing: tobi elkin, wayne friedman

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