PepsiCo and A-B InBev took the unusual step of uniting their brands in retail promotions surrounding the Super Bowl this year. But how much sense does the mashup make?
A good bit, it appears, at least according to an analysis of social-media affinities among the brands' fans. Colligent, whose MeQ ratings measure how engaged brand fans are with other brands, finds a relatively strong brand affinity between fans of Pepsi and fans of Budweiser.
The Pepsi-Bud MeQ score of 87.45 (on a scale of 100) is good, said Brent Gaynor, chief marketing officer of Colligent. The affinity between PepsiCo's Doritos and InBev's Bud rates a more middling 63.65 meQ score. Then again, there could have been better pairings among this year's Super Bowl advertisers, according to a Colligent analysis for Advertising Age.
The very strongest fan cross-affinity among Super Bowl brands also involves Pepsi, but with its long-lost former corporate sibling Taco Bell. Pepsi and Taco Bell have a MeQ score of 99.82. That may signify the old corporate mashup of Pepsi and Taco Bell also made marketing sense, Mr. Gaynor said, though PepsiCo ultimately decided it didn't make financial sense when it spun off Yum Brands in 1997. (Colligent markets services to marketers and Pepsi is a client.)
Taco Bell fans appear to love outside their category with frequency and intensity. The second-strongest brand affinity among this year's Super Bowl advertisers is between Taco Bell and Best Buy.
Best Buy fans also seem prone to liking around, as the electronics retailer has another seemingly unlikely listing among the five strongest Super Bowl brand affinities -- with website registry service Go Daddy.
Mr. Gaynor saw no clear reason for that, other than a common interest in digital technology combined possibly with entry-level sophistication among the fan bases.
Another surprising cross-category affinity was between Unilever's Axe and Samsung -- undoubtedly good news for Axe given the rising popularity of the Samsung Galaxy brand. A common irreverent tone in ads for both could be a factor there, Mr. Gaynor said.
He had no immediate explanation for a strong affinity between Procter & Gamble Co.'s Tide and Mondelez's Oreo, though he acknowledged it could boil down to a large common contingent of moms with young kids among the fan bases.
While Pepsi and Bud fans pair pretty well, that doesn't mean being in a common category like beverages is a recipe for affinity. Among the five worst potential pairings of Super Bowl advertisers is between Budweiser and Kraft's Mio water enhancer.
Bud drinkers apparently have little interest in enhancing their water and water enhancers have little interest in Bud. It's probably time to deep-six any Mio-enhanced Budweiser project at Kraft.
The weakest affinity of all potential Super Bowl pairings is between Coke and Lincoln. Another auto brand, Audi, had two entries on the worst Super Bowl mashup list -- one with Wonderful Pistachios and another with Soda Stream.
Mr. Gaynor was at a loss for explanations, but maybe it's just that luxury car buyers don't drink pop or eat pistachios.
And while Taco Bell fans are quick to embrace Pepsi and Best Buy, they're not so keen on Century 21.
Probably the feeling cuts both ways, Mr. Gaynor speculated. "It's hard to imagine," he said, "a real estate agent taking someone to Taco Bell for lunch."
The MeQ score is a reciprocal measure of how many highly engaged fans of one brand are also engaged with another, and vice versa. Colligent bases its ratings of social-media brand affinities on detailed analysis of posts in social media, primarily from Twitter and public Facebook profiles.
The measurements go far beyond "likes," with more weight given to comments or responses and still more weight to such things as posting photos, videos or other content about brands.
Mr. Gaynor compared Colligent's scoring to Google's Page Rank algorithm, referring to it as a sort of brand rank algorithm between people and brands where deeper social-media involvement raises the ranking. And the intensity of interest expressed in social media means a lot in Colligent rankings.