Touchdown: Microsoft's ad wins Super Bowl Sunday

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Effectiveness agency, System1 Group, reveals the top 10 most effective Super Bowl ads

The Chiefs may have won the 54th Super Bowl but it was Microsoft’s Be The One commercial, starring the first woman Super Bowl coach, Katie Sowers, that scored a commercial touchdown, according to global effectiveness agency System1 Group.

For the second year running, the tech leader came out on top of the scoreboard, garnering the greatest emotional response from the American people. It beat over 75 other commercials, with Jeep, Doritos and Cheetos coming in second, third and fourth place respectively.

System1 Group’s top 10 most emotionally effective Super Bowl 2020 ads from highest to lowest:

1. Microsoft (5.3 stars)
2. Jeep (5.2 stars)
3. Doritos (5.1 stars)
4. Cheetos (4.8 stars)
5. NFL (4.7 stars)
6. Minions (4.3 stats)
7. T-Mobile (4.3 stars)
8. Reese’s (4.2 stars)
9. Secret (4.1 stars)
10. Michelob (4.1 stars)

System1 Group’s star rating system rates ads from 1-5.9 Stars based on people’s emotional response to each ad. These stars predict an ad’s potential to contribute to long-term growth for the brand.

Jon Evans, Chief Marketing Officer at System1 Group said: “On Sunday night, Sowers became the first woman to coach at a Super Bowl, an achievement Microsoft celebrated with its ad. For every pioneering achievement, somebody has to ‘be the one’ and do it first. In this case, it was Katie. The ad tells her story in her own words, with plenty of archive footage, letting the fun side of her personality come across alongside her determination and professional pride. It’s this mix that makes it feel like an authentic, inspiring story for anyone, not just football fans.”

Coming in second place and beating other automotive brands, Hyundai and Porsche, Jeep scored with its Groundhog Day ad, starring everyone’s favorite, Bill Murray. Taking advantage of the Super Bowl coinciding with Groundhog Day, Jeep cleverly combined celebrity and nostalgia to win over Americans while promoting its 2020 Jeep Gladiator.

Ranking third was Doritos’ Western-inspired ad. Merging celebrities with humor, the ad showed Lil Nas X and Sam Elliott having a cowboy dance-off. The on-screen chemistry and back and forth between the two characters is what made this ad a smash.

“Celebrities have always been a presence in Super Bowl ads but this year you couldn't move for them — and for a lot of brands, quantity was more important than quality, with ad after ad cramming in a load of famous faces for cameos, vignettes and jokes. But the ads which succeeded in using celebs well, are the ones which focused on single celebrities and played on what they were famous for — like Bill Murray's performance in Groundhog Day, and Lil Nas X and MC Hammer's big hits. Lil Nas X is the first rapper in a 5-Star ad,” commented Evans.

Evans continued: “In 2019, an estimated $240.7 billion was spent on ads, yet more than half of advertisements had little to no impact at all. Emotional response testing should be a mandatory step in your ad building campaign, especially if you’re after the world’s most sought after air time.”

Measuring the emotions that each ad generated, System1 Group’s unique and predictive behavioral methodology surveyed 11,250 people across the country in real time to determine how viewers responded to each commercial. Drawing on Paul Ekman’s research into the seven core human emotions — fear, disgust, anger, surprise, contempt, sadness, and happiness — System1 Group asked respondents to choose which emotion the ad triggered in them and how strongly they felt it.

Utilizing the company’s benchmark star rating system (from 1-5.9 with 5.9 being the highest), the ad’s were each awarded a score to demonstrate their potential impact on market share growth. System1 Group’s findings showed that Microsoft and Jeep led the charge with 5-stars rating showing the strongest potential for long term growth.

“Microsoft weren’t the only winner tonight. Brands like Cheetos, Doritos and Jeep should be extremely pleased with how they spent their ad money based off of our findings,” finished Evans.

See for System1 Group’s Super Bowl coverage including their list of this year’s Top ads.


For interview opportunities and further information about System1 Group please contact:

Isabel Thomson-Officer / +1 917 318 5050

Jessica Jarrett / +1 917 714 9296

About System1 Group
System1 Group has pioneered the use of behavioral science to better predict marketing that guarantees profitable growth. System1 Group was founded in 2000 by CEO John Kearon and is publicly traded on London's AiM (Alternative Investment Market). It has been named ‘Most Innovative Company’ by GreenBook (six years in a row), Best Research Agency by Marketing Magazine and twice received ESOMAR's Best Methodology award. System1 Group is headquartered in London with offices across Europe, in North America, Brazil, Singapore, and Australia.
Ad Ratings methodology
The System1 Group benchmarking tool Ad Ratings measures the emotions an ad generates in the consumer and the intensity of that emotional resonance. This leads to a Star Rating – a 1-5 Star scale (which can be subdivided for greater nuance). The Star Rating predicts long-term brand growth. It measures the potential for creative quality to act as an amplifier for investment. Given equal relative investment (10 points of ESOV) 1-Star will lead to 0% brand growth; 2-Stars is 0.5%; 3-Stars is 1%; 4 is 2%; and 5-Stars is 3%-plus.


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Jessica Jarrett
Manifest New York
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