In a game in which the outcome was never really in doubt, the winning ad strategy for Super Bowl XLVIII was also clear: successful ads went with storylines that tugged at the nation's collective heartstrings and/or used themes tied to America and family.
Here are the winners, losers, lessons and more.
For another year, Budweiser seems to have found a winner in its Clydesdale + X = Love formula.
Brand Bowl 2014, which is produced by Boston.com and PointsLocal in consultation with ad agency Mullen, deems Budweiser's Puppy Love spot the overall ad winner this year. It generated 63,493 tweets with 80 percent positive sentiment for the brand overall.
This isn't perhaps surprising news given that YouTube viewership numbers prior to the game beat out all other advertisers handily with 34.1 million just before kickoff.
USA Today's Ad Meter, which included nearly 6,300 preregistered consumer panelists who voted on their favorite commercials, agrees.
For the second consecutive year - and the 12th in the past 14 years - Anheuser-Busch won USA Today's Ad Meter for Super Bowl with the Puppy Love spot. The national news site says this ad shows how "Anheuser-Busch has discovered that effective Super Bowl ads sometimes can be less about creating belly laughs and more about plucking heartstrings."
In addition, USA Today observes that both Budweiser's back-to-back winning ads opted for music over dialog and featured the same actor.
Budweiser also had a winner with its A Hero's Welcome spot, which Brand Bowl said was the most talked about spot of 2014.
Kontera, a big data content marketing platform, says Budweiser was also the "King of Earned" and "won overall when examining the month-long brand consumption," which includes the pre-game multi-week run-up and in-game brand consumption, and full game day consumption totals.
In addition, content engagement platform AddThis says content about the Budweiser and Bud Light ads generated the most shares on Facebook throughout Sunday.
Perhaps the biggest surprise from Super Bowl XLVIII comes from Radio Shack, which Brand Bowl deemed most loved this year with its self-deprecating The Phone Call spot, which garnered more than 15,000 tweets for the brand with 97 percent positive sentiment. It was also Brand Bowl's most loved ad among women and men.
The Phone Call also demonstrates there's an appetite for eighties nostalgia with the recent success of Delta's 80s-themed inflight safety video, which also featured Alf and has 1.2 million views.
However, according to Ad Meter the number two ad this year was the Cowboy Kid, which was one of the finalists from Doritos' #CrashTheSuperBowl contest.
As hard as it is to put "Muppets" and "loser" in the same sentence, they did not equal Super Bowl ad gold for Toyota, per Brand Bowl. The spot was deemed Brand Bowl's 2014 overall loser with 13,000 tweets and 58 percent negative sentiment.
Also interesting: While Hyundai's Nice and Oikos' The Spill spots had far more views leading up to the game than the other Hyundai and yogurt spots respectively, it was those other spots -- Dad's Sixth Sense and Chobani's Bear -- that scored higher from Ace Metrix, which rates the creative effectiveness of TV advertising, despite Oikos reuniting the Full House gang.
In addition, AddThis says Chobani "far exceeded Dannon Oikos generating 4X more social lift than Oikos during the game."
Ace Metrix also said CarMax might have fared better by taking a page from Budweiser's book and airing its online-only Slow Bark, the puppy version of its Slow Clap Super Bowl ad, as Slow Bark scored higher.
According to Twitter, #SB48 generated more than 24.9 million tweets during the live telecast, which is up slightly from 24.1 million tweets last year. Also worth noting: Approximately 58 percent of national ads included hashtags, which again is up slightly from 50 percent in 2013, Twitter says.
Brand Bowl 2014 said over 631,000 of those tweets were branded.
And with the massive potential audience up for grabs, even brands that didn't pony up $4 million for 30 seconds of air time attempted to snag attention Sunday night, although it doesn't look like any advertisers were able to mimic Oreo's massive on-the-fly success last year.
That includes Skittles, which capitalized on Seattle running back Marshawn Lynch's love of the candy in a gametime tweet.
Pizza brand DiGiorno riffed on the blowout theme in a tweet that referenced the time it takes to bake one of its pizzas.
Typo-laden tweets from JCPenney turned out to actually be an intentional #TweetingWithMittens push for #TeamUSA gear.
And post-game advertiser Esurance's #EsuranceSave30 cash giveaway resulted in over 1,000 tweets per minute on average, which beat out all other advertisers for the highest sustained conversation volume in terms of average TPM, Poptip says.
So what are the takeaways for brands this year?
Ad Meter says Super Bowl 2014 could be "a serious turning point" for advertisers who find success with "ads with fewer words, do-good messages and cinematic credibility" rather than "created just for cheap laughs or lookie-loos."
Successful ads also celebrated America and family, Ad Meter says. Again, that includes Anheuser-Busch, Coke, Chrysler and floor mat manufacturer WeatherTech, as well as Hyundai and Cheerios.
It was a good strategy for first-time advertiser Cheerios. According to AddThis, Cheerios saw (8X) lift during the game and (6.8X) throughout Sunday compared to the previous six Sundays.
In terms of timing, Kontera says brand with sustained campaigns with earned and paid tactics beat out big reveal advertisers "resoundingly."
Poptip, a platform that analyzes and synthesizes social conversation in real-time, agrees that four out of the top five brands who received the most pre-game mentions released their commercials before game day. Poptip also says four out of 10 brands who sustained the highest average tweets per minute had more than one commercial during the game.
What's more, the lopsided game favored pre-third-quarter advertisers, which impacted automotive industry advertisers more than food and beverage, which traditionally skew earlier, Kontera says.
AddThis says Maserati (65X and 53X) exceeded Kia (61X) and Jaguar (53X) to see the largest increase in social engagement immediately after their ads were shown. Maserati also saw the most social lift among all auto advertisers (2.4X) throughout Super Bowl Sunday compared to the previous six Sundays.
According to AddThis, overall sharing was up one percent for the Super Bowl compared to 2013, but sharing on mobile devices grew 67 percent, which was led by Android, which almost doubled from 2013.
In addition, Facebook led the way for Super Bowl content sharing with a 42.9 percent increase and Pinterest was up 20 percent year over year beating Facebook's like, which was up seven percent year over year, AddThis says.
Meet Your Favorite ClickZ Contributors
Many of ClickZ's leading expert contributors will be at ClickZ Live, the new online and digital marketing event kicking off in New York (March 31-April 3). Hear from the likes of: Jeremy Hull, Lisa Raehsler, Andrew Goodman, Bryan Eisenberg, Mathew Sweezey, Aaron Kahlow, Stephanie Miller, Simms Jenkins, Jeanne S. Jennings, Dave Hendricks and more!
Lisa Lacy is senior staff writer at ClickZ. In addition to ClickZ, her work has appeared in The Huffington Post, The Luxury Spot, LearnVest, MarthaStewart.com, GoodHousekeeping.com, amNewYork, and The Wall Street Journal. She's a graduate of Columbia's School of Journalism.
March 19, 2014