Super Bowl Ads: Brain Dead, Part 2

[photopress:super_bowl_xli_scan.jpg,full,alignleft]Since our first post, Super Bowl Ads: Brain Dead, some additional data has been released and, of course, the Web is alive with commentary on the latest crop of Superbowl ads. First, let’s look at the additional data from the UCLA neuroscience researchers:

“This clearly was the year of the amygdala, the brain’s ‘threat detector.’ Compared to last year’s ads there was much more anxiety, and far less positive emotion in these highly touted commercials, said Dr. Joshua Freedman UCLA Clinical Assistant Professor of Psychiatry and a co-founder of FKF Applied Research. “Much of the anxiety seemed caused by violence, but was also rooted in economic fears. The Nationwide ad had a spike when Kevin Federline was revealed to be working in fast food, and also when the GM robot turned out to be OK but afraid for its job.”

In the same release, the FKF/UCLA team releases their list of “best” and “worst” ads based on the brain scan data:

Top Ranking Super Bowl Ads

  • Coca Cola — Video Game
  • Doritos — Live the Flavor
  • Bud Light — Hitchhiker

Bottom Ranking Super Bowl Ads

  • EmNuts — Roberterald Goulet
  • Honda — CRV Crave
  • Sprint — Connectile Dysfunction

Reaction around the Web seems to confirm that this year’s batch of Super Bowl ads lacked punch and memorability, with our without neuromarketing analysis. Business Week’s David Kiley agreed with the brain scans by declaring Coke the winner - his analysis was based on how well the ads matched Coke’s brand image. The BizMord blog led with, What the Hell Was That?, and thought the best ad was from CareerBuilder. The Alarm Clock thought most of the ads missed the boat by not doing an Internet cross sell.

One conclusion: big bucks aren’t always the answer. The Doritos “Live the Flavor” ad, supposedly produced for $15, finished second in the fMRI rankings and fourth overall in USAToday’s AdMeter. This shows that a good concept is worth more than high production values, celebrities, or stunning animation.


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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1 response to "Super Bowl Ads: Brain Dead, Part 2" — Your Turn


ilker 6. March 2007 at 8:43 pm

I liked the Blockbuster online store ad the most.. hehe, trying to click and drag a real mouse!


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