2013 Super Bowl Winners & Brain Movies


Sands Research has released their 2013 Super Bowl winners and losers, along with the “brain movies” to show how each ad lit up viewers’ brains. For the first time that I can remember, the top spot was a tie – Coca-Cola “Security Camera” (Wieden + Kennedy) and Budweiser’s “Clydesdale” (Anomaly) finished in a dead heat. Rounding out the top five were Bud Light “Journey,” Kia Sorento “Space Babies,” and Taco Bell “Viva Young.”

Genetics Counts?

An interesting sidebar is that this year’s co-winner was directed by Jake Scott, son of famed director Ridley Scott. While the elder Scott is best known for films like Bladerunner and Gladiator, he also directed the iconic Apple “1984” commercial. The younger Scott actually played a part in the famous Mac spot. In an interview with AdAge, he says, “I was a runner at the time at the [RSA] office in London and they sent me down to an area in east London and shot all the skinheads they used as the worker force.” Who knew?

The Winners

What follow are the top-rated ads. I suggest watching the original version first, then the “brain movie” version – there’s a lot going on in the latter versions, and I think it’s better to experience the ad in its pure form first.

Tied for the #1 spot was “The Clydesdales – Brotherhood” ad for Budweiser. This is the original version:

Click HERE for the “brain movie” version that shows viewer attention in heat map format, brain wave activity captured by EEG, and graphs for engagement (top chart) and emotion (bottom chart).

The other #1 scoring ad was “Security Cameras” for CocaCola:

For the Sands version enhanced with the various neuro-metrics, click here.

Third place went to Bud Light’s “Journey” ad:

Brain movie version.

Fourth was Kia’s “Space Babies:”

Brain movie version.

Fifth was Taco Bell’s “Viva Young:”

Brain movie version.

Where’s The Product?

All of these ads focus on telling a story of some kind, and the product is often not seen until the end. None of them take a “features and benefits” approach, and all are long on emotion.

For the full picture of how the ads scored, see Neuromarketing Study Results of the Super Bowl XLVII Ads.

What do you think – any surprises? Do you think these ads will sell product, or at least help build the brand’s identity?

  1. Thomas Zoëga Ramsøy says

    Hi Roger,

    I still find it a bit “both ways” seeing these movies, since I cannot escape the feeling that these are really increasingly becoming “just so stories”. Sure, it’s nice to see that one’s commercial scores high on the Sands score of emotional engagement. But what does that actually mean? What is the actual prediction of this? Will it make consumer remember the ad more; like the brand more; buy more products? If these questions cannot be answered, the metrics have little actual power.

    It’s not because these are impossible questions to answer. In fact, all data should be available. So I’d love to see something about that, do you know about any such documentation?

    IMO this is the big shortcoming of this field as a whole: we’re only reflecting the hype that everybody has on measuring emotions. But emotions are FOR something: increase attention, improve memory, raise preference, and heighten the likelihood that something eventually be purchased. But the links have to be made.

    That’s why I cannot escape the feeling that these brain scans are little more than just so stories. If anything, it would be great to see data that shows the link between the Sands score and subsequent memory for the ad (which is not really that interesting), and even better if it could be related to sales numbers.

    All the best,

    1. Roger Dooley says

      This has been an ongoing issue in the neuromarketing industry, Thomas. Closing the loop between measured data (like brain activity) and either sales or brand preference has been elusive. I just returned from the World Neuromarketing Forum where a number of presenters were offering case studies with varying amounts of data that showed prediction of real-world results by neuromarketing data.

      One interesting finding (more in a future post) was that “attention,” presumed to be one of the most important factors in ad effectiveness, may not be a great predictor of results.


  2. Thomas Zoëga Ramsøy says

    Hi Roger,

    I hate not being able to attend the first NMSBA, but hope to make a strong entry in NY 😉

    In general, I have the impression that we speak too much about emotions, and too little about what they predict. Emotions are *for* something, they lead to behavioural changes.

    As for the recent study on attention not predicting choice, I’ll have to see the paper. Of course, attention alone would not be a sufficient condition for choice, but it will certainly be the gatekeeper, and IMO far too little is known about what ensures attention in the first place. Great work from Milicia Milosavljevic here.

    But the claim in general strikes me a bit odd. In my own work, I have found consistent relationship between attention and cognitive measures such as explicit memory and preference; and in a recent study I find specifically that attentional modulation is related to choice.

    So in my experience, there is a clear relationship, but the question is whether attention can be used as a predictor. That first of all depends on whether you talk about bottom-up or top-down attention or some kind of combination. Second, I would strongly assume that attention can be used as an important parameter in the complete model of what drives choice. Even if the explanatory power is relatively low, what often happens is that when it is included in a model, the overall explanatory value increases dramatically.

    These are all empirical questions, and it should be relatively easy to test the actual effect, and should be answered as such

    Looking forward to the post 😉

    Best wishes,

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