Feelin' Good – How the Top Super Bowl LI Ads Got the US Smiling

With over 112 million Americans watching the Super Bowl, costing at least $5 million USD to place a 30 second spot, it’s little wonder brands are recounting the big plays.

We partnered with the human answers platform Lucid, to bring you the definitive ranking of the most emotionally engaging videos of Super Bowl 2017. Using Lucid’s Fulcrum marketplace, we tested 84 commercials on over 3000 people in the US.

Realeyes enables brands and agencies to identify how target audiences spontaneously and subconsciously respond to video content, with emotional data, presented not only on a second by second basis, but by an overall score.


Rank Brand Commercial’s Name Score % Better than all videos tested
1= Mr. Clean Cleaner Of Your Dreams 10 98.0
1= Skittles Romance 10 98.0
3 Bai J.Timberlake & C.Walken 9 94.6
4 Buick Big game Cam Newton 9 93.9
=5 Wonderful Pistachios Ernie gets physical 9 93.2
=5 Paramount Pictures Baywatch 9 93.2
7 Kia Hero’s journey 9 92.4
=8 Ford Go further 9 91.5
=8 Honda Yearbooks 9 91.5
=8 Busch BUSCHHHH! 9 91.5
=8 King’s Hawaiian False Cabinet 9 91.5

> 2017 full rankings

The Feel-good Factor

Humor and light-hearted entertainment were winning approaches among 2017's crop of commercials - a trend we've seen across the past few Super Bowls. At the very top it was a dead heat between Mr Clean and Skittles.


Unlike previous years, talk of subtle political commentary dominated the post-game analysis. However, the emotional data showed that simple, direct humour is always an effective method for engaging your audience. 



Mr Clean 

Mr Clean capitalised on nostalgia, leveraging a spin on its iconic character to elicit strong levels of Happy across demographics, although the final twist was a particular hit with women.



By contrast, Skittles did not lean on old tropes. It’s fresh, simple but slightly surreal concept was just as effective in drawing smiles from its audience. Both were exemplary in engaging across young and old, male and female viewers. They had universal emotional appeal - a key ingredient to Super Bowl success.


By and large the rest of the top 11 all used humor to good effect. A special mention goes to Wonder Pistachios, which was propelled into joint 5th place by a moment of slapstick comedy. At 15-seconds long it was the most efficient emoter of our top 11, and with 30 seconds of Super Bowl air-time going for $5,000,000, perhaps the most cost-effective!


Speaking of good value, King’s Hawaiian was able to slip into the top 10 with a relatively simple, low-budget piece, affirming an oft-made observation at Realeyes – high-production values do not guarantee strong emotional engagement.

That being said, celebrities (or well-known animated characters!) are peppered throughout the top performers, featuring in 7 of the 11 commercials. In the best cases - especially Bai, Buick - these celebs are deployed in surreal, unusual, narratives.


Notable omissions from the Top 11 include Budweiser’s 'Born the Hard Way', which focused on the company’s immigrant founders. It caught the media's attention, generating huge social media buzz, but scored a 5, ranking 6th worst among the 83 commercials. Airbnb's We Accept and Coca-Cola’s 'It's Beautiful', which also centered on social issues ranked 3rd and 2nd worst, respectively.

 Know the score...

The 1 to 10 Score is based on 4 metrics: Attraction, Retention, Engagement and Impact, making it an effective tool to quickly identify winners vs losers, compare historic data, predict the social performance and identify the most effective audience to target. 

Seeing the granular detail of each emotion from moment to moment, also provides a deeper level of insight, enabling content producers to see when audiences are engaged and if the product or brand resonates – ideal intelligence before spending millions on a Super Bowl slot.