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USA Today Super Bowl Ad Meter Declares Doritos, Bud & VW The Big Winners & Godaddy A Loser

ImageFor the first time, two ads tied for the top Super Bowl commercial as selected by consumer panelists rating the ads as they aired in the game for USA TODAY'S 23rd annual exclusive Ad Meter. Both starred dogs acting like, well, people.

Doritos struck marketing gold Sunday night by using its now-familiar formula for creating best-liked Super Bowl spots: let its customers make them. All its ads were consumer-created, and the winner featured a guy who pays big-time for teasing a hungry pug dog with Doritos. It was rated as the co-winner by the Ad Meter panelists.

But never count out a king — at least, not one with a funny bone.

After losing its Midas touch for two years, Anheuser-Busch, the King of Beers and a longtime Ad Meter leader, is back on the throne as co-reigning king of Super Bowl advertising. A Bud Light ad featuring a dog sitter who gets the canines to cater his party tied for the top spot. It aired late in the fourth quarter.

For Anheuser-Busch, which has watched its brands' images and market share erode in recent years, it was a return to glory. A-B used to win Ad Meters the way Vince Lombardi won football games. A-B won 10 consecutive Ad Meters from 1999 through 2008.


But the brand has had to watch from the sidelines the past two Super Bowls as upstarts Doritos and Snickers took the Ad Meter crowns.
The No. 3 spot was a highly professional spot for VW's Passat, about a huggable kid in a Darth Vader costume who — with an unknown assist from his dad — thinks he has started the car with "the Force."

It tied for the highest finish ever by a car ad in the Super Bowl, tying a Nissan ad in 1997.

Even then, the night arguably belonged to the unknowns. Fourth and fifth place went to more consumer ads, one for Doritos and one for Pepsi Max.

The fella behind the winning Doritos ad: a 31-year-old part-time designer of websites for kids. He says he filmed the spot for about $500.

The pattern has become disconcerting for Madison Avenue executives, whose high salaries are sometimes linked to creating the most-liked Super Bowl commercials. This is the second time in three years that consumers chose as best commercial an ad by a regular Joe. Two years ago, Doritos won Ad Meter with a consumer-made spot, and last year it finished as a runner-up with an ad made by an outsider.

The consumer admakers' secret recipe isn't in the chips — it's in the humor of the ads.

"I just like it to be funny. Sometimes I don't even pay attention to what the ad is about, just that it is funny," says Brenda Moore, 51, of Bakersfield, Calif., an Ad Meter panelist. She has reason to want to laugh. There are rumblings about cutbacks at her company. "My philosophy is pray on it and hope things turn out your way."

Many of the top-scoring ads shared another common bond: They'd been widely seen on Facebook and YouTube for days — and even weeks — before the game.

The Doritos and Pepsi ads had been posted for weeks among groups of finalists for online voting that picked the ads for the game.

By kickoff, nearly 13 million people already had viewed the Darth Vader ad on VW's YouTube channel. That is certain to soar in the next few days.

Such success throws a monkey wrench in a long-held and apparently faulty belief by Super Bowl advertisers that they need to keep their secret until game day.

One panelist who'd seen the Darth Vader ad on Facebook before the game was Daphne Steinberg, a 41-year-old housewife from Brooklyn, N.Y. "I was anticipating it and kinda waiting for it," she says.

The Web designer who made the winning Doritos ad, JR Burningham, earned a cool $1 million from Doritos' parent company, Frito-Lay, for his No. 1 finish in Ad Meter. (USA TODAY has no connection with Doritos or to the online contest.)

Talk about winning big. Last Friday, Burningham, a Burbank, Calif., resident, got engaged to girlfriend and fellow filmmaker Tess Ortbals, who helped create the pug ad. The inspiration for the ad is a friend's playful, goofy pug named Oko Nono.

This amateur filmmaker was having doubts that he'd actually make it after all in the film industry but decided to invest $500 in making the Doritos ad.

"This commercial was a last-ditch attempt to make things happen," he says. He had attended the University of Southern California film school but says, "It's just a very difficult industry."

"We only had $500 to spend, so we had to come up with something that would be affordable and funny," he says. "We (he and Ortbals) thought about what makes us laugh, and the first thing that came to mind was my friend's pug."

Production was halted after 20 takes when the pug got too tired from running and chose to lie down on the camera.

Some 61 commercials that cost up to $3 million per 30-second slot for the air time (yes, that's $100,000 per second) were in the Fox broadcast watched by more than 100 million viewers. But space was at a premium this year with marketers sensing that a nation of consumers who were still recession-shellshocked last year are now primed to buy stuff.

How Ad Meter works

USA TODAY assembled 282 adult volunteers in Bakersfield, Calif., and McLean, Va., and electronically charted their second-by-second reactions to ads during the Super Bowl. Shugoll Research and Trotta Associates chose the volunteers, who used handheld meters to register how much they liked each ad. A computer continuously averaged the scores. Scores are the highest average for each ad. Source: USA Today

The 10 most popular
Advertiser     Description                                                           Secs.     Qtr.   Score
Bud Light      Dog sitter puts dogs to work                                 30           4      8.35
Doritos          Dog's revenge for Doritos teasing                        30           1      8.35
Volkswagen "Darth Vader" starts 2012 Passat                          30           2      7.95
Doritos          House sitter brings back grandpa from ashes      30           1      7.68
Pepsi Max     Love hurts with bad girlfriend                               30           1      7.56
CareerBuilder     Bad chimps block guy in parking lot               30           2      7.54
Pepsi Max     Reading thoughts on first date                             30           4      7.52
NFL               TV show clips of NFL fans                                   30           4      7.51
Bridgestone   Beaver pays back good deed at bridge washout30           4      7.44
Coca-Cola     Border guards share Coke                                  60           3      7.41
Last modified onSaturday, 06 May 2017 10:07

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