Social-Media Smackdown: The Disloyal Polar Bears vs. Disloyal Santa in Pepsi's New Anti-Coke Spots

Bluefin Labs Data Shows Consumer Reaction to Pepsi's 'Summer Time is Pepsi Time' Commercials

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As the media columnist for Ad Age , I don't usually write about advertising or marketing. But today I'm making an exception because I've got some interesting data to share about advertising-as-media -- and TV shows as platforms for advertising-as-entertainment.

Last month, Ad Age collaborated with Bluefin Labs to present a deep dive into the social-media conversation surrounding the first full season of NBC's hit show "The Voice," as well as a visualization of the interconnected social-media conversation around the new FX comedy "Wilfred." (Cambridge, Mass.-based Bluefin's expertise is in providing brands, agencies and media companies with real-time TV-audience response insights through social-media analysis.) Today we're presenting data regarding the latest iteration of the cola wars -- specifically, how Pepsi's new "Summer Time is Pepsi Time " spots are resonating in the social-media sphere.

As my colleague Natalie Zmuda reported on June 28,

In the [first] "Summer Time " spot, which was created by Omnicom Group's TBWA/Chiat/Day, Santa parties on the beach to the 1990s hit "This Is How We Do It." When he goes to get a soda, the bartender serves up a Coke, but Santa turns it down and asks for a Pepsi. "Pepsi? But Mr. Claus, I thought you had a deal with ... you know," the bartender says. Santa replies, "I'm on vacation; I wanna have a little fun."

You can view the first spot in Natalie's post and a second one, titled "Summer Time is Pepsi Time : Uncle Teddy" -- with sassy polar bears showing similar disloyalty to Coca-Cola -- here.

As much as everyone talks about time-shifting (via DVR, Hulu, etc.), most people still watch TV shows when the networks first air them -- and if they're simultaneously engaged with social media, they're often likely to comment about the commercials that air during those shows as well as the shows themselves.

So how are the "Summer Time is Pepsi Time " spots being received by consumers? "Social response to the new ads has been very strong," Bluefin's Tom Thai tells me, "and, in fact, Pepsi's overall share of voice relative to Coke has gone from 25% to 30%" since the spots started airing a little over a month ago.

Trump hourly chart
Pepsi has been nicking Coke's social-media share of voice (SOV)

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In regard to overall social-media response to the "Summer Time " spots, the polar bears beat Santa -- especially in primetime

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The top 10 shows -- and the worst performers -- for social-media response to "Summer Time is Pepsi Time "

Some other insights from Bluefin:

  • The "Summer Time " spots have a much higher chance of eliciting a social-media response (primarly on Twitter and Facebook) when they air during certain shows. And three of the Top 10 shows for "Summer Time " response are/were on BET: the countdown-format music show "106 & Park," "The Mo'Nique Show" (which BET just announced has been put on "indefinite hiatus," though new episodes will continue to air over the next couple of weeks) and "The BET Awards: 2011."
  • "Santa" has pretty consistent response levels from early fringe into primetime and overnight, but "Uncle Teddy" (aka "Ice") does particularly well in terms of social response when it airs during prime time.
  • Coke still dominates in terms of social-media SOV (share of voice) vs. Pepsi, but it's dipped from 75% to 70% since the "Summer Time " campaign launched.
  • Bluefin puts together a massive database of specific social-media responses when it does case studies like this one. Among my "Summer Time " favorites (both of which appeared on Twitter): "So Pepsi just stole the polar bears from Coke? Literally? And made a commercial about it? #AdThuggin" and "Haha pepsi just strait up hoed coke wit that Santa claus commercial #NoComeback."
  • Polar bears are carnivores, so I'd hate to see an actual polar bear vs. Santa faceoff -- although, frankly, Santa doesn't look that appetizing -- but at least we now know that the bears can totally kick St. Nick's fat ass on Twitter and Facebook. Though the "Uncle Teddy" commercial started running after the "Santa" spot -- and Bluefin has captured significantly fewer airings of it (152 vs. 225) -- the polar bears top Santa in social-media responses captured by Bluefin: 2,203 vs. 2,162. In fact, each airing of the "Uncle Teddy" spot has generated about 50% more social-media comments than each airing of the "Santa" spot.

Stay tuned to for more data from Bluefin Labs.

For more about Bluefin, visit their website.

Simon Dumenco is the "Media Guy" media columnist for Advertising Age. Follow him on Twitter @simondumenco.

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