The long game: Which 2015 Super Bowl commercials found an afterlife online?

The ads that enchanted viewers on game day were not the same ones that continue to rack up views

On Super Bowl Sunday 2015, the ad for Supercell’s Clash of Clans: Revenge featuring Liam Neeson was viewed just 31,538 times online, making it the Web’s 14th most-viewed Super Bowl spot that day. But one year later, the ad has been viewed a whopping 100 million times on YouTube — far more than any other Super Bowl 2015 spot.

As popular as the ad has proved, there was little indication on the day of the Big Game that it would find such success online. The commercial, by Barton F. Graf, ranked 17th out of 61 spots on USA Today’s Super Bowl AdMeter. Meanwhile, the commercial that took the top spot in the AdMeter, Budweiser’s adorable "Lost Dog," has been viewed only 11 million times online in the past 12 months, making it only the sixth-most viewed spot since game day.  

The lifespan of a Super Bowl ad has lengthened exponentially since the days when broadcast reigned, forever altering the equation by which its value is determined. So Pixability and Campaign US conducted an analysis of Super Bowl 2015 spots to see which ones have been viewed the most online over the past year — and how that compares to their performance on game day.

The result: The ads that initially scored the highest were not always the ones that held long-term attention. 

Why did some perform better during the year than they did during the Super Bowl? There are no easy answers. But one factor stands out: Commercials that hinged on a clever gag, rather than a core emotion, seemed to lose their initial appeal quickly.

For example, Fiat’s "Blue Pill" — which centers on a visual gag about a Viagra pill falling out of a window and into a Fiat, resulting in a larger car — was rated #2 on the USA Today poll, but only #7 on the Pixability chart. And Dorito’s "Middle Seat," in which a slob uses rude behavior and a bag of Doritos to land a seat next to an attractive blonde, ranked #5 on the USA Today poll, but didn’t show up on the Pixability chart at all. 

But the commercials in the second and third spots on the Pixability chart were both poignant ads that appealed to the heart: Nissan’s "With Dad"  (#9 on the AdMeter) follows a boy’s complicated relationship with his race car-driving father, and "#DodgeWisdom," (#6 on the AdMeter) featured elderly people giving life advice. 

Ads that are more emotional are simply more likely to be passed around, said Noah Mallin, head of social for MEC North America. "When you move somebody — whether laughter or tears — that’s something people want to share with others."

In other cases, results seem influenced by the vagaries of Internet behavior. While the Clash of Clans spot was genuinely funny, and was shared widely online, the ad almost certainly benefited from the sheer number of gamers searching "Clash of Clans" on YouTube. (A similar effect may have lifted the Game of War spot starring Kate Upton to #5.)

It’s also worth noting that not all 2015 Super Bowl ads remained available online after the game. Several popular spots were taken down or set to "private" on YouTube, presumably due to copyright or licensing issues. The list included T-Mobile’s promo starring Kim Kardashian (viewed 2,550,223 times during the game), Snickers’ The Brady Bunch spoof with actor Danny Trejo (1,811,371 views), and Bud Light’s Real Life PacMan #UpForWhatever (845,897 gameday views). 

One last point to consider: With 114.4 million viewers, the Super Bowl provided more eyeballs for each commercial in one day than the Internet delivered all year. But what is the value of a viewer watching in a crowded room, filled with nachos and other distractions, versus a viewer who seeks out your ad online? It’s just one more way the calculus of Super Bowl ROI grows increasingly complicated.

Clash of Clans "Revenge" by Barton F. Graf

February 2016: #1 YouTube views, 97,644,461
Game day 2015: #14 YouTube views, 31,538

Nissan 2015 "With Dad" by TBWA\CHIAT\DAY\LA

#2 YouTube views (overall): 22,943,986 views
#14 YouTube views (game day): 13,877 views

Dodge "Wisdom" by The Richards Group, Inc.

#3 YouTube views (overall): 16,368,005 views
#19 YouTube views (game day): 3,132 views

Jeep "Beautiful Lands" by GlobalHue

#4 YouTube views (overall): 12,291,948 views
#18 YouTube views (game day): 4,125 views

Game of War "Who I Am"

#5 YouTube views (overall): 11,291,846 views
#16 YouTube views (game day): 21,382 views

Budweiser "Lost Dog" by Anomaly

#6 YouTube views (overall): 30,792,214 views
#5 YouTube views (game day): 2,550,223 views

Fiat "The Blue Pill" by GlobalHue

#7 YouTube views (overall): 14,003,077 views
#3 YouTube views (game day): 3,334,327 views


Reebok "Freak Show - Be More Human" by Venables Bell & Partners

#8 YouTube views (overall): 11,870,434 views
#9 YouTube views (game day): 879,844 views

BMW i3 "Newfangled Idea" by Kirshenbaum Bond Senecal & Partners

#9 YouTube views (overall): 18,263,780 views
#1 YouTube views (game day): 3,781,356 views

Coca-Cola "#MakeItHappy" by Wieden + Kennedy

#13 YouTube views (overall): 5,073,276 views
#10 YouTube views (game day): 96,439 views


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