The American football championship game, called the Super Bowl, is always one of the most talked-about topics online. Since more than 100 million people watch, it’s safe to say that it’s one of the biggest sports nights of the year.
With the chance to reach millions of consumers, it’s obvious that brands who can afford it will want to get in on the action. Here’s a number that will amaze you: In 2022, NBC sold 30-second spots during the Super Bowl for over $6.5 million, which was a record price.
We used Consumer Research, our social insights platform, to look at what people were saying about the ads shown during the last 10 Super Bowls. This helped us figure out which ad was the most talked about on social media.
Note on how we got the data: We looked at public tweets about each Super Bowl between 6:30 p.m. and 10:15 p.m. Eastern Standard Time on the Sunday of each Super Bowl year.
Among other things, we looked at the following:
- Conversation peaks
- The number of brand mentions
- Sentiment in conversation
- Celebrities are driving the discussion.
How did they choose the winner? We used the number of mentions to determine which brands and ads were most discussed.
Let’s take a trip down memory lane and remember the good times.
1. Super Bowl’s winner Coinbase
During the 2022 Super Bowl, Coinbase’s ad was talked about on social media more than any other ad. More than 79,000 people talked about it.
The only thing in this ad was a QR code that moved around like an old screensaver. Coinbase was mentioned in an impressive 14% of all brand-related conversations. This could be because the familiar design looks back in time or because people find it funny that the company spent so much money on a QR code that jumps.
2. Super Bowl’s winner: Mountain Dew
Mountain Dew’s watermelon-flavored Major Melon soft drink advertisement received 315,814 mentions during the 2021 Super Bowl, making it the most frequently mentioned brand.
Mountain Dew’s ad was also the most well-liked of all the ads this year, with 95.49% of online conversations about it being positive.
The success of the ad may have been due to a combination of John Cena’s endorsement and the fact that people could enter a contest to win $1 million.
3. Super Bowl 2020’s winner: Google
Google’s “Loretta” ad received 121k mentions, accounting for 13.14% of the overall brand conversation during the 2020 Super Bowl.
In the ad, there was a true story about an older man who used his Google Assistant to talk about his late wife. The Google ad for Loretta was effective because it used a story to make the viewer feel something about the product. According to Maya Angelou, “People will forget what you said. People will forget what you did. But people will never forget how you made them feel.”
4. Bud Light: Superbowl Ad
The Bud Light ad was set in the medieval Bud Knight kingdom and made a reference to Game of Thrones. It got 57k mentions and won the winner title for 2019.
Using references to popular culture can help a brand stand out. As Bud Light has shown, mentioning and linking your brand to the most popular show in the world can be your ticket to consumers’ hearts (and their wallets).
5. Pepsi: Superbowl Ad
The 2018 Pepsi Super Bowl ad looked back at the history of the brand and pop culture. It used ads and celebrities from as far back as 1983 to show this.
As part of the “Pepsi Generations” campaign, the brand also put out retro-styled cans that were only available for a limited time.
What did people say about the Pepsi ad on Twitter?
Some people were happy to see the old-style Pepsi cans come back.
Seriously cannot wait til I find some @pepsi retro cans… I love my Pepsi
— Sabrina (@curiousgirl420) February 4, 2018
However, the Internet remembers everything. In 2018, some consumers were still reeling from the Kylie Jenner saga from the previous year.
— Cara Anne Anderson (@CaraAnneA) February 5, 2018
“This is the Pepsi” was mentioned more than 40,600 times, which is 14% of all brand mentions and puts it ahead of all other ads in terms of how often it was mentioned.
6. Puppy Love by Budweiser: Superbowl Ad
Budweiser had been using Clydesdale horses and puppies in their television commercials for many decades. They decided to combine the two in this famous ad by showing how a puppy and one particular Clydesdale had literally become inseparable. The ad was so popular that it quickly became the most shared Super Bowl commercial on social media. It is also one of the most popular.
7. Best team-up: GM and Netflix’s “Why Not an EV?”
The fact that Netflix and GM are working together to share the cost of a Super Bowl ad may be the clearest sign that people in show business are trying to save money. But this one is a winner, with Saturday Night Live alum Will Ferrell popping up in Netflix shows like Squid Game and Army of the Dead and promising that the streamer will use more electric vehicles in their shows. (Okay, probably not a period piece like Bridgerton, but Ferrell trying to say “shan’t” in a frilly shirt and fancy coat was still kind of funny.)
8. The Farmer’s Dog: Forever
At least a few Super Bowl ads always make you feel something. It’s a tried-and-true method that never fails to grab the attention of even the most jaded viewers. In 2023, it was clear that a commercial for The Farmer’s Dog, a subscription service, did just that.
Even though it might seem like a formula, this type of commercial works because it reminds us of what’s important and shows us that brands like The Farmer’s Dog are in line with our deepest beliefs. It was number one on the USA Today Ad Meter, so it must have hit a nerve.
9. PopCorners: Breaking Good
It might seem strange to call “nostalgic” an ad about characters from a show that ended less than 10 years ago. Still, this old TV fan couldn’t help but feel a thrill as he watched Bryan Cranston’s Walter White, Aaron Paul’s Jesse Pinkman, and Raymond Cruz’s Tuco Salamanca bring back the spirit of Breaking Bad while acting like air-popped crisps are some kind of controlled substance. And it’s great that a Super Bowl ad is being used to remind people of one of the best TV shows ever made.
10. Best culture war head fake: M&M’s “They’re Back for Good”
M&M’s sparked a controversy when they announced they would discontinue use of their animated “spokescandies” — pundits such as Tucker Carlson had criticized changes in the characters as being too “woke.” Maya Rudolph was chosen as the new pitchwoman. During the game, her commercial changed the names of the candies and put clams in the middle of each pellet. After the game, M&M’s aired their commercial with the joke: the candies were coming back for good. The purple M&M, which Carlson had criticized, said, “I’m glad to be back, because this is what I was made for.” Well played, candies.