TMA Super Poll Reveals Keys to Super Bowl Success

By Megan McMahon

The Big Game is big business. The audience size alone might justify the $7 million price tag for a 30-second spot in the Super Bowl, but this audience is also uniquely eager to watch ads. As many people tune in primarily for the commercials as for the game, the TMA Super Poll found.

So, how is an advertiser to make the most of their investment? Here are some keys to make it resonate in culture well beyond those 30 or 60 seconds.

Big Game, Big Reveal

Over half (55 percent ) of viewers are in it for "the experience," according to the TMA Super Poll, a survey conducted in October 2022 among a representative sample of 1,000+ people across geographies, genders, ages, and ethnicities.

Given the importance of experience, it shouldn't be surprising that 76 percent prefer to see ads for the first time during the game. Sharing the reactions that ads elicit — whether big laughs or big feels — is simply more fun as a real-time, collective happening.

Marketers, on the other hand, like to release ads in advance because it can result in more editorial coverage and higher overall impressions. Marketers live and die by their KPIs, especially when they must prove an ROI on a multimillion-dollar ad buy. The winning compromise is a pre-game teaser campaign. Teasers can generate buzz and views without diluting the power of an in-game surprise — if the creative is up to snuff.

Celebrities Sell

Many brands employ celebrities to break through the crowded Super Bowl ad landscape, and the strategy works. The TMA Super Poll shows over half (54 percent ) of people prefer ads with someone famous. And instant recognizability is key. With limited time to make an impact in a 30 or 60 second spot (and many ads featuring multiple celebrities for maximum ROI), the more familiar the face, the better.

The proof is in the purchase. Nearly two out of three viewers (64 percent ) believe people are more likely to buy a product when it is endorsed by a celebrity. That belief is even stronger among Black, Hispanic, and younger viewers.

When asked what they prefer to feel when watching an ad, 55 percent said entertained and the next 33 percent said humor. When seeking to entertain, it helps to bring in an entertainer.

For the second year in a row, Dwayne Johnson tops the list of celebrities viewers would most like to see in a Big Game ad. Musical artists are next, led by Rihanna, Beyonce, and Eminem. It's perhaps also no surprise that each of the top four have a large social media presence. Kevin Hart, Cardi B, Tom Cruise, and Brad Pitt took spots 5 to 8.

No One-Hit Wonders

We asked viewers to recall their favorite ad from Super Bowl LVI. This was an open-ended question reflecting memorability as well as preference. The most popular responses from the top down were Doritos, Budweiser, Pepsi, Bud Light, and Amazon.

To jog your memory, the Doritos/Cheetos ad featured animals and Salt-N-Pepa's "Push It." Budweiser showed a Clydesdale overcoming injury. Pepsi had no film, but presented the hip-hop ensemble show at halftime. Bud Light could refer to Bud Light Next's metaverse-y fantasia or Bud Light Seltzer Hard Soda's loud flavors with Guy Fieri. Amazon ran with Colin Jost's and Scarlett Johansson's mind-reading hijinks for Alexa and, separately, promoted Thursday Night Football for Prime Video.

There's a wide range of memorability among these spots. And yet, to be named the "favorites" eight months hence suggests these brands are reaping rewards for having a consistent presence in the game. For this set, there's (probably) always next year.

TMA Super Poll is conducted by TMA (The Marketing Arm), the Dallas-based Omnicom agency with expertise in creating cultural resonance. It is one of the leading buyers of celebrity talent for Super Bowl campaigns.

The views and opinions expressed are solely those of the contributor and do not necessarily reflect the official position of the ANA or imply endorsement from the ANA.

Megan McMahon is SVP of celebrity and influencer at TMA.