Money Decoded: The Ratings Behind Some of the Best Super Bowl Ads

Did you know a 30 second commercial spot aired during the Super Bowl cost marketers about 4 million and a 60 second spot is about 8 million?  With the cost to produce a commercial starting at $1 million, the most obvious question for most of us –”Is it really worth it?”


Each year, the Super Bowl is one of the most-watched programs on television. And according to Forbes, several studies have proven that 50% of the Super Bowl audience tunes in just to watch the ads. So whether you want to promote a new product, spread awareness about your brand or simply let your audience know that you can “play” along with long standing super bowl heavy weights like Doritos, Pepsico and Budweiser–vying for a spot may be worth it.

On the one hand your brand can catch the eyes of over 100 million people in 30 — 60 seconds on TV and social media. Not to mention Super Bowl commercials are often talked about for years after the event. But on the other hand, if the commercial flops, it’s a negative for the brand and the creative agency.

Ingredients for a successful super bowl commercial often involve four themes: Humor, animals, family and celebrities. Ratings are usually determined by a combination of metrics including, social media (e.g., the number of new followers a brand picked up and the percent of positive feedback the ad received), recall and likeability. Here is a list of the top 10 Super Bowl Ads in history developed by USA TODAY Ad Meter, the most widely recognized barometer and industry-leading tool used to measure public opinion surrounding the Super Bowl.

  1. 1995: Pepsi, “Boy gets sucked into Pepsi bottle” (9.66 rating)
  2. Pepsi, Coke driver nabs Pepsi” (9.42 rating)
  3. 1995: Pepsi, Pepsi vs. Coke drivers in diner” (9.41 rating)
  4. 1994: Pepsi, “A chimp experiment goes awry” (9.34 rating)
  5. 2002: Bud Light, “Romantic evening goes awry with satin sheets” (9.11 rating)
  6. 1996: Pepsi, “Frozen tundra” (9.09 rating)
  7. 2004: Bud Light, Owners demonstrate how their dogs fetch Bud Light” (9.04 rating)
  8. 1993: McDonald’s, “Jordan, Bird shoot hoops” (9.0 rating)
  9. 2004: Budweiser, “Football-playing Clydesdales turn to zebra referee to review” (8.99 rating)
  10. 1994: Doritos, “Chevy Chase gets fired from ad” (8.92 rating)

Ad Age has also captured a list of the commercial ads planned for Super Bowl 2015. Do you have any favorite super bowl ads? Leave me a comment below.