Carat: Heinz and Doritos generate Super Bowl Twitter buzz – but for contrasting reasons

By Andrew Fairclough, head of social media insight at Carat.

#SB50 saw the 50th anniversary of Super Bowl, and with it one of the biggest tent pole events in global advertising. As many brands continue to use it as an opportunity to create a buzz across social media and word of mouth, Carat took the opportunity to gauge the reaction on Twitter. With much of the build-up this year relating to the ongoing health debate around the lasting impact head to head collisions have on current and former NFL players, we were interested to see how brands’ played out their messages over the weekend in this context.

The main theme of adverts in 2016’s edition (aside from Beyoncé saving the half-time from Coldplay’s flat show) was an apparent ‘Moral Compass’ – both on the part of brand’s creative output and in how audiences received the videos. Doritos’ ‘ultrasound’ effort misfired with audiences, similarly Snickers (with negative comments around objectifying women) while Budweiser and Heinz used their valuable ad space as an opportunity to tie their commercial to worthy causes, around drink driving and animal cruelty (PETA), respectively.

In terms of absolute volume of posts in relation to the Super Bowl, Pepsi came out brand winners with 270K mentions due their association with the half-time show, with Doritos No.1 for pure ad buzz (162K mentions). Budweiser came a close third on 150K mentions.

Overall, this year ad popularity appeared diminished versus last year (around ten million mentions in total this year vs. twenty million in 2015), leading us to question whether Super Bowl’s moment in the spotlight has come to an end. And whether huge ‘Hero’ moments will be replaced long term by more always-on approaches to content which tap into everyday moments, like snacking, running and switching on the heating. I personally think there is an opportunity for both, but the pendulum may have swung in the direction of the evergreen variety.



The Heinz “Wiener Stampede” drove the highest volume of positive buzz of the Super Bowl ads with 9% net sentiment. 60% of conversation came from a female audience, and the advert won over the audience using hundreds of dachshunds dressed up as hot dogs running towards a range of Heinz sauces to the theme of Harry Nilsson’s “Without You”, but gained extra kudos by partnering up with PETA to promote the adoption of pets. As of 10am, 8th February, #MeetTheKetchups had generated over 11k mentions*, and 4,356,762 total YouTube views**.

Additional Heinz social chatter came as a result of parody handle @CommonWhiteGirl on Twitter, who tweeted that “Heinz had won the superbowl”; the account boasts 1.2m followers and their tweet generated over 19,650+ engagements.

(*Sysomos MAP estimated data 7th Feb – 8th Feb 10am, ** YouTube content published 31st Jan 2016).


Driving the highest volume of social buzz with 163,000 Twitter mentions and considerable controversy, Doritos’ latest Crash the Super Bowl crowd-sourced effort is set in an ultrasound appointment with an unborn baby following its dad’s Dorito (depicted on the ultrasound screen). The audience were divided as to how to interpret the ad, with some calling it disturbing but others seeing the funny side. Out of the two official hashtags, #Doritos, was far more widely used than #CrashTheSuperBowl. The former gained 52,064 mentions, whilst the latter generated 16,596 mentions. In terms of a conversation demographic split, 55% of conversation came from men and 45% from women; so far the ad has collected 8.7m YouTube views.

LG’s Super Bowl debut featured a time-traveling Liam Neeson with his son playing his younger self; in seven days the advert has generated 3,339,255 YouTube views.

LG hosted a range of competitions which boosted the use of the campaign hashtags, #OledIsHere generated 7,396 (MAP estimated) mentions, 66% of the total 11,176 Twitter buzz. On Twitter, LG engaged with other Super Bowl advertisers including Budweiser and Heinz to boost conversation.

The advert confused the audience with some Twitter users mistaking it for a new film preview (produced by RSA films, directed by the son of Ridley Scott); the general consensus was that the ad was slick and impressive – resulting in net (MAP automated) sentiment of 2%.


In an effort to boost social conversation, in the run up to the SuperBowl Toyota asked Twitter to cheer on the getaway car using the #GoPriusGo and chosen tweets were featured in the Superbowl ad; the #GoPriusGo hashtag drove 1,306 mentions (7th-8th February); Overall, the ad generated 12,146 mentions with a net sentiment of 6%.

Toyota’s ad divided the Super Bowl audience, with some saying the car chase was in poor taste, confused if the ad message was glorifying crime, while others said it was in good humour and joined in on Twitter for a chance to be featured in the ad.


The Pokémon advert was picked up by eager fans on YouTube (74% male) and racked up over 17 million YouTube views, while conversation on Twitter was steady with 29,648 mentions. Loyal Pokémon fans managed to steer conversation away from the ad and used the opportunity to ask Pokémon about the next game release. The ad was Pokémon’s Superbowl debut but also celebrated their 20 year anniversary – this offered a great opportunity for brand engagement, with brands such as Doritos creating special Pokémon content.

Fans engaged with Pokémon’s superbowl content, but the brand focused on the Super Bowl entertainment, slipping in Pokémon references to generate buzz before the ad launched (i.e. Hats backwards, Trainers! It’s game time! #SB50) – overall, Pokémon conversation drove 4% net sentiment (automated).

Budweiser #GiveADamn

Budweiser continues to be a hit with Super Bowl audiences. Following the success of Budweiser’s #PuppyLove commercial during last year’s game, this year’s ad was highly anticipated; and did not disappoint. The brand’s #GiveADamn campaign generated over 176,000 tweets, 9,322 official hashtag mentions (mainly from men), 3.9 million YouTube views and a neutral sentiment. Most conversation derived from retweets; making up 74% of buzz around this commercial. Most retweets came from @SoDamnTrue’s tweet (5.11 M followers), which contained a GIF, insinuating disappointment that this year’s commercial contained no puppies. Dame Helen Mirren’s quintessential British-ness captured the hearts of the Americans; despite people refusing to believe she was a beer drinker. Peyton Manning even mentioned that he was going to enjoy a Budweiser after the game; which although generated suspicion amongst tweeters; further amplified social noise. Budweiser reassured its Twitter community that Peyton’s shout out was unexpected, generating a further 297 retweets and 485 likes.


Snickers’ campaign trumps other Super Bowl commercials in terms of comedy. This commercial was didn’t generate as much reaction as other ads (11,667 tweets and 7.4 million YouTube views). The ad mainly sparked conversation amongst men (57% male vs 43% female) and the campaigns official #EatASnickers was included in 2,103 tweets. Willem Defoe cross-dressing as a hungry/grumpy Marilyn Monroe, generated mixed reactions, branding the commercial as “hilarious”, “awkward” and “awesome”, contributing towards an overall net sentiment of -2%.

Bud Light

Budweiser performed better on Twitter, but Bud Light did better on YouTube. The commercial gained just under 18,000 tweets but with 6,434,045 YouTube views it trumps Budweiser’s #GiveADamn campaign. The stars of the commercial, Seth Rogen and Amy Schumer were central to conversation. People said it was funny, smart but also a fail, generating a net sentiment of -1%. The official #budlightparty hashtag was used in 4,604 tweets. The tweeters were of a male skew (61% male and 39% female). Including two international stars in the commercial gained buzz from all over the world, including Poland, the Netherlands and Peru.


The action-themed commercial was the most popular amongst men. Men made up nearly 70% of social buzz around Hulk vs AntMan, advertising #CokeMini. Generating over 20,000 tweets and almost 1.2 million YouTube views, this Marvel character commercial was named both as “best coke ad ever” and also a “big fail”, with an overall net sentiment of 5%. The official hashtag, #tastethefeeling, only generated 256 mentions. However, #antman and #hulk were much more widely used (1,686 mentions combined). A large proportion of conversation (73%) derived from re-tweets.


Celebrity appearances drove conversation. With nearly 16,000 tweets and over 6 million YouTube views, Aerosmith’s Steven Tyler’s appearance on the commercial dominated conversation. The campaign generated a net sentiment of 1%, with 54% of tweets coming from men. Only 2% of tweets included the official hashtag, #tastetherainbow; with #skittlesart being more popular (9% of tweets). 61% of tweets were retweets, which is a lower number than other commercials from this event, suggesting a higher proportion of unique organic conversation.

Is PayPal ready for Super Bowl’s advertising space? PayPal’s first Super Bowl ad generated nearly 16,000 tweets and 432,144 YouTube views. With a neutral sentiment, the commercial celebrated ‘new money’, emphasising that PayPal celebrated people as money, and that coins were going out of fashion Indeed, #newmoney, the campaign’s official hashtag carried across social extremely well, and was included in 32% of tweets about this commercial. This is partly due to the fact that 77% of tweets were re-tweets, instead of individual organic conversation. Many concluded that the advert was confusing and too safe to compete with the other big brands present in the Super Bowl’s commercial space.

This report was compiled by the Social Media insight Team at Carat, led by Andrew Fairclough.

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