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Published January 30th 2023

The Most Talked-About Super Bowl Ads of the Last 5 Years

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Every year, the American football championship game, or Super Bowl, generates one of the biggest conversations online. With over 100 million people tuning in, it’s safe to say it’s one of the biggest nights in sports every year. 

With an opportunity to get in front of millions of consumers, it’s a no-brainer that brands (that can afford it) want to get a piece of the action. Here’s a stat that will blow you away: In 2022, NBC sold 30-second spots during the Super Bowl at a record-high price of over $6.5 million

We used our social insights platform, Consumer Research, to analyze public conversations about the ads played during the last five Super Bowls to determine the most talked-about Super Bowl ad on social media. 

Note on our methodology: The data around each Super Bowl was gathered from public Twitter posts between 6.30pm EST to 10.15pm EST on the respective Sunday of each Super Bowl year.

Among other data points, we analyzed:

  • Peaks in conversation
  • Volumes of brand mentions
  • Sentiment in conversation
  • Celebrities driving the conversation

What metric determined the winner? We used the volume of mentions to define the most talked-about brands and their ads.

Let’s take a nostalgic trip down memory lane.

Super Bowl 2018’s winner: Pepsi

Pepsi, “Pepsi Generations”

The 2018 Super Bowl Pepsi ad looked at the history of the brand and pop culture, referencing ads and featured celebrities going back to 1983. 

As part of the “Pepsi Generations” campaign, the brand also released limited-time cans with retro packaging design. 

How did people on Twitter react to the Pepsi ad?

Some people readily embraced the return of the retro Pepsi cans. 

But, of course, the Internet remembers everything. And in 2018, some consumers were still not over the Kylie Jenner fiasco from a year before. 

Pepsi’s “This is the Pepsi” was mentioned over 40.6k times, accounting for 14% of all brand mentions and placing the ad above all other ads by mention volume.

Read more about our 2018 Super Bowl analysis.

Super Bowl 2019’s winner: Bud Light

Bud Light, “Special Delivery”

The Bud Light ad set out in the medieval Bud Knight kingdom and referenced Game of Thrones, gathering 57k mentions and scoring the winner title in 2019. 

Dropping pop culture references in conversations can make a brand stand out. Making references to and associating your brand with the most popular show in the world can – as demonstrated by Bud Light – be your winning ticket to consumers’ hearts (and their wallets). 

Read more about our 2019 Super Bowl analysis.

Super Bowl 2020’s winner: Google

Google, “Loretta”

With 121k mentions, Google’s “Loretta” won the 2020 Super Bowl’s most talked-about-ad status, accounting for 13.14% of the entire brand conversation.

The ad featured the real-life story of an older man using his Google Assistant to remember his late wife. Google's Loretta ad was effective because it used storytelling to create an emotional connection between the viewer and the product. As Maya Angelou said: “People will forget what you said. People will forget what you did. But people will never forget how you made them feel."

Read more about our 2020 Super Bowl analysis.

2021 Super Bowl’s winner: Mountain Dew

Mountain Dew, “Major Melon Bottle Count”

The soft drink brand, Mountain Dew, gathered 315,814 mentions for their ad promoting their watermelon-flavored Major Melon drink and scored the title of the most mentioned brand during the 2021 Super Bowl game.

Mountain Dew’s ad also got the best reception among this year’s ads, with 95.49% of its sentiment-categorized online conversation being positive.

The ad’s success was perhaps defined by a combination of celebrity endorsement (John Cena) and an invitation to participate in the contest for a chance to win $1 million. 

Read more about our 2021 Super Bowl analysis.

2022 Super Bowl’s winner Coinbase

With more than 79k mentions during the game, Coinbase’s ad was mentioned on social more than any other ad during the 2022 Super Bowl.

This ad simply featured a floating QR code that was reminiscent of an old screensaver. Whether due to the familiar design looking back in time or amusement behind spending so much money on a jumping QR code, Coinbase's mentions accounted for an impressive 14% of all brand-related conversations. 

Read more about our 2022 Super Bowl analysis.

Super Bowl 2018-2022: The most-talked-about Super Bowl ad 

So, which of the last five years’ worth of Super Bowl ads triumphed in getting the most people talking during the game?

It’s 2021 Mountain Dew’s ad.

Looking at the last five years of Super Bowl ads, we saw brands use tactics like

  • Celebrity endorsements
  • Influencer marketing 
  • Storytelling and building emotional connections with viewers
  • Making cultural and generational references that resurfaced positive memories 
  • Building engagement through contests and incentives

As we look ahead to the 2023 Super Bowl, what do you think is going to set brands apart during this year’s game? 

Send us your thoughts and feedback at [email protected].

And stay on the lookout for our 2023 Super Bowl analysis.

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