Darth Vader Wins Super Bowl

Volkswagen Darth Vader ad with Sands tracking

Volkswagen’s “The Force” ad featuring a pint-sized Darth Vader was the highest-scoring ad as ranked by neuromarketing firm Sands Research. Ranked by Sands’ metrics for engagement, the top ads were:

  1. Volkswagen – Darth Vader / Deutsch LA (6.36)
  2. Paramount Pictures – Captain America / In-House (5.13)
  3. Chevrolet – Volt Discovery / Goodby Silverstein & Partners (4.96)
  4. Volkswagen – Black Beetle / Deutsch LA (4.91)
  5. Universal Pictures – Fast Five / In-House (4.87)
  6. Pepsi Max – Love Hurts / Independent (4.74)

Here’s the whole list:

2011 Super Bowl Ad Ranking - Click for full size

2011 Super Bowl Ad Ranking

Sands describes its methodology:

Participants in the annual Sands Research Super Bowl Ad Neuromarketing Study wear an EEG cap and view the commercials on the SensorMotoric Instruments (SMI) eye-tracking system. This allows Sands to record each viewer’s non-verbal brain response on a millisecond by millisecond basis and sync exactly where and at what level their attention is at that millisecond. This methodology allows a much more granular level analysis of the Super Bowl Ads compared to the simple Ad Meter type measurements used by USA Today and others.

The three worst 2011 Super Bowl Ads

Every Super Bowl has a loser, and, for the first time, Sands specifically declared their three losers, i.e., the three ads that scored the worst according to their analysis:

  • #69: Stella Artois – Crying Jean / Mother – (2.69)
  • #68: Salesforce.com – Chatter.com / Dipdive (3.13)
  • #67: Sealy – After Glow / Leo Burnett (3.26)

To see the “brain movies” associated with the winning ads, you can visit here.

So, here’s the reader participation phase: do these rankings make sense to you from your own observations? Any surprises? Any howlers like guys obsessing about Crest?


This post was written by:

— who has written 985 posts on Neuromarketing.

Roger Dooley writes and speaks about marketing, and in particular the use of neuroscience and behavioral research to make advertising, marketing, and products better. He is the primary author at Neuromarketing, and founder of Dooley Direct LLC, a marketing consultancy. Follow him on Twitter.

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