Does the Super Bowl sell?

February 9, 2021
Mike Black
Written By
Mike Black

Breaking down the brands that saw the highest lift on Amazon from their Super Bowl ads

"Do Super Bowl commercials sell?" It's a question the industry has long pondered — and one that's becoming easier to answer as more shopping goes online. Inspired by an ad that made them laugh (or cry), consumers can immediately click and buy a product. And brands can more quickly see the sales impact. 

Though a little more subdued than years past, millions of people tuned in to watch this year's Super Bowl. But which commercials inspired them to click and buy? For the second year in a row, Profitero set out to answer this question. We tracked Super Bowl advertisers since the beginning of the year to see if Super Bowl ads convert into sales on Amazon. Below is the play-by-play of what we learned.

Key takeaways

  1. Super Bowl commercials DID prompt consumers to buy, with Amazon purchasing happening during and shortly after the game. 

  2. The Top 5 Amazon share gainers from Super Bowl ads were: Dr. Squatch, Scotts Miracle-Gro, Doritos, Mountain Dew and Tide.

  3. Novelty matters. Brands that saw the greatest amount of sales tended to be those that were either first-time Super Bowl advertisers (like Scotts Miracle-Gro or Dr. Squatch, a small natural soap brand for men), or long-term veterans (Doritos, Mountain Dew) introducing new products.

  4. Tying your commercial to a call to action can help extend the sales impact of your advertising. Mountain Dew built its campaign around a contest, which is likely to pay dividends long after the game.

  5. It doesn’t matter how good your ad is. If you don’t optimize the digital shelf (ensuring products are well stocked and well placed), you won’t fully capitalize on sales — a lesson Cheetos learned the hard way.

 


 

Here is Profitero’s list of Super Bowl LV ad winners:

 

1. Dr. Squatch — up 200% in Beauty

0121_blog_drsquatch

* Market share is defined as the percentage of total sales a product makes in a category on Amazon.com. Profitero looked at a product’s average market share during 6:30pm - 12:30am EST on Feb 7 vs. its avg. market share Jan 1 to Feb 1, 2021


What we noticed:
First time Super Bowl advertiser Dr. Squatch did an excellent job synching its national ad buy with strong execution on the digital shelf — highly reviewed products, good content and a well-stocked selection — to set itself up as a game day winner. At kickoff, Dr. Squatch dominated share of page 1 on Amazon for its own brand keyword, owning every spot in search results, organic and sponsored. By halftime, other challenger brands wanting a piece of the action began conquesting Dr. Squatch’s branded keywords. Just goes to show you can never breathe easy as a brand on Amazon; 24/7 vigilance is required.

Conquest 2.0

 


 

2. Scotts Miracle-Gro — up 106% in Lawn & Patio

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* Market share is defined as the percentage of total sales a product makes in a category. Profitero looked at a product’s average market share during 6:30pm - 12:30am EST on Feb 7 vs. its avg. market share Jan 1 to Feb 1, 2021


What we noticed:
With half the nation in a winter freeze, first-time advertiser Scotts Miracle-Gro delivered a message of greener days ahead. Packed with star power that included John Travolta, Martha Stewart and NASCAR's Kyle Busch, the company’s objective in its Super Bowl debut was to retain customers acquired early on in the pandemic when backyards became an oasis during lockdown and staycations. If our early Super Bowl read is an indication, the grass should remain green for Scotts Miracle-Gro.

 


 

3. Doritos 3D Crunch — up 103% in Grocery

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* Market share is defined as the percentage of total sales a product makes in a category on Amazon.com. Profitero looked at a product’s average market share during 6:30pm - 12:30am EST on Feb 7 vs. its avg. market share Jan 1 to Feb 1, 2021


What we noticed:
Doritos went after the Super Bowl full throttle to introduce its latest product Doritos 3D Crunch. It set up its Super Bowl advertising with excellent digital shelf execution and generated a social media buzz using the hashtag #FlatMatthew. This pre-game run-up activity plus a much talked-about game day ad, which gave a nod to millions of “flat fans” (i.e., cardboard cutouts) populating sports stadiums around the globe during the pandemic, struck the right chord with shoppers.

 


 

4. Mountain Dew Major Melon — up 100% in Grocery

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* Market share is defined as the percentage of total sales a product makes in a category on Amazon.com. Profitero looked at a product’s average market share during 6:30pm - 12:30am EST on Feb 7 vs. its avg. market share Jan 1 to Feb 1, 2021


What we noticed:
Super Bowl veteran Mountain Dew used the big event to launch its latest flavor, Major Melon. Activities surrounding the ad itself included dropping teasers in the run up to the game; launching a social media campaign; preparing its digital shelf and Amazon brand store (see below); and leveraging paid sponsorship on game day. During the game, its commercial focused on a strong call to action (a contest to win $1 million for guessing the number of bottles shown in the ad). Certainly a clever trick to drive repeated watching and extend the ad’s mileage.

Major Melon 2

 


 

5. Tide Pods 4 in 1 HE Turbo — up 91% in Home and Household

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* Market share is defined as the percentage of total sales a product makes in a category on Amazon.com. Profitero looked at a product’s average market share during 6:30pm - 12:30am EST on Feb 7 vs. its avg. market share Jan 1 to Feb 1, 2021


What we noticed:
No stranger to the Super Bowl, P&G grabbed consumer attention with its unusual creative for Tide Hygienic Clean (yup, the one with that Jason Alexander hoodie). Interestingly, the Tide product specifically advertised during the game didn’t make our Top 5 leaderboard. Instead, it was Tide Pods 4 in 1 HE Turbo Laundry Detergent (61 pacs) coming in at #5. This shows that advertising can have a halo effect, influencing sales for the entire portfolio. Another potential winner: American Apparel, which has the early lead conquesting the keyword term “jason alexander hoodie.”

Screen Shot 2021-02-09 at 8.25.31 AM

 


 

Other notables in the field

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* Market share is defined as the percentage of total sales a product makes in a category on Amazon.com. Profitero looked at a product’s average market share during 6:30pm - 12:30am EST on Feb 7 vs. its avg. market share Jan 1 to Feb 1, 2021

  • M&Ms — Took direct aim at the new normal, by premiering its Super Bowl ad virtually via a Zoom call with 50,000 fans in the week leading up to game day. Its eCommerce call to action during the Super Bowl was asking customers to gift a bag of M&Ms to a friend or loved one, primarily via the company’s DTC site.

  • Hellmann’s — Yet another first-time Super Bowl advertiser, the Unilever brand used its big game spot to spread the message about less food waste. On Amazon, the brand leveraged Super Bowl day traffic by sponsoring its branded keywords and directing shoppers to its brand store where it served up game day dip recipes.

  • Pringles — Came. To. Play. The Kelloggs-owned snacks brand did a great job getting its Amazon 1P (multi-pack) offerings to the top of the page using paid sponsorship. This made it difficult for 3P sellers to piggyback off its Super Bowl TV advertising, which we found to be a problem for food and snacks brands in our Super Bowl study last year.

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Opportunity for improvement: Cheetos

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*Feb 7 vs. Jan 31, 2021

Cheetos did many things right as it readied to launch new product Cheetos Crunch Pop Mix. The snacks brand updated its Amazon brand store to spotlight the new item. It teased out multiple promos (featuring celebrity couple Ashton Kutcher and Mila Kunis) in the leadup to its full Super Bowl spot. And on game day, out of all the keywords analyzed by Profitero, the term “cheetos crunchy pop mix” saw the biggest increase in search rank from the previous Sunday — a sign that its commercial really resonated.

In the end, however, Cheetos Crunch Pop Mix was noticeably missing from our game day leaderboard. As it turns out, the new item wasn’t available to buy on Amazon during game time; and only a limited selection was offered on Walmart.com.

The lesson? You can have the best advertising in the world, but all that traffic and interest being generated is wasted if your eCommerce stores are not set up to convert. So, monitor and manage all elements of the digital shelf concurrently with your advertising campaigns. Having a disciplined and synchronized process in place across teams can help ensure the success of big promotional events, like the Super Bowl.

 

Methodology

Using best seller data, Profitero estimated how much a product’s market share increased on Amazon.com as a result of being featured in a Super Bowl ad. Market share is defined as the percentage of total sales a product makes in its respective category as designated by Amazon.

We compared a product’s average market share during the 6-hour period starting at game time kickoff (6:30pm EST Feb 7 - 12:30am EST Feb 8 ) versus its average market share in the month of Jan 2021.

In total, 165 products were tracked and studied. Brands in the study had products that were featured in Super Bowl LV commercials, and were available for sale on Amazon.com in the U.S. at the time of the commercial airing.

The effects of other variables, such as price change, search position and out-of-stocks (OOS) did not factor into this study, but should be negligible given the short time period studied.

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