2020 Super Bowl LIV Commercials Compared to What the Target Consumer Really Wants

We’ve been talking a lot recently about ads vs. reviews. One is big budget, the other is high trust. There’s no more famously big budget ad than a Super Bowl ad. Here are three Super Bowl commercials from 2020, a synopsis of their storylines, and then the storylines consumers really care about, as revealed in product reviews.

SodaStream

In this ad featuring Bill Nye, astronauts discover water on Mars. In a humorous twist at the end, an employee puts the treasured Mars water in his SodaStream, creating “fresh sparkling water in seconds” from what he thought was “Mark’s water”.

The commercial’s consumer storyline only kicks in at the end, when the employee is enjoying a refreshing glass of sparkling water.

What consumers really want can be found in SodaStream Reviews and Q&As. With a 76% positivity rating (3, 4 & 5 stars), this SodaStream model is a full 8 points below Channel Signal’s average of 84%. Some of the issues consumers complain about include “flat” water or difficulty carbonating, cheap plastic equipment, and problems returning the unit when issues were encountered.

Tide

Who wears white to a Super Bowl party? Charlie Day, apparently. But don’t worry, with Tide Power Pods, the stain will come out later.

The commercial’s consumer storyline is actually a useful one in this case, albeit star-studded. How many times have you gotten a stain on your clothes early in the day only to wonder when you’ll get around to cleaning it? Although this is certainly a big storyline for real consumers, our argument still stands that this is a single storyline while reviews depict many.

What consumers really want can be found in Tide Pod reviews (Power Pods don’t have any reviews on Amazon just yet). At 96% positivity, this is a product consumers truly love. They’re easy to use, they do a great job getting the clothes clean (even for large loads), and best of all, they leave them smelling good.

Microsoft

A “feel good” ad for the ages, this one depicts Katie Sowers, the Offensive Assistant Coach for the San Francisco 49ers. All it takes is one to change the way people think, and Microsoft thanks Sowers for being “the one”.

The commercial’s consumer storyline depicts Katie on her Microsoft Surface throughout the commercial. No doubt the Surface comes in handy reviewing plays and stats with the team.

What consumers really want can be found in Microsoft Surface reviews. With an 84% positivity rating, this product matches up with industry averages. This means consumers are generally satisfied but there are some complaints. Reviewers love the portability, touch screen and Surface pen. The complaints included a variety of issues from the touch screen to the battery, but were unified by a troublesome returns and warranties process.

Conclusion

What does this all mean? Essentially, ads are great for grandiose, feel-good messaging and for the sheer quantity of people they reach. They’re great for keeping your brand in a consumer’s initial consideration set. But when it comes down to the purchase intent, whatever was seen in that ad vanishes from the decision-making process as consumers use other factors to choose a product. In particular, they turn to other customers who have used the product and written about its performance in product reviews. It’s a major data point when considering a product, and it can make or break a sale.

1 Comment


Having just watched the Super Bowl and related ads, I recall their impact. I own a Soda Stream and find it most useful and value driven. The Mars/water thing was a bit out there but how else do you draw attention to their product.
The Tide commercial was highly entertaining and that reverberates translating to purchase (vs reviews). Doritos comes to mind. Those chips are only OK, but you buy due to the entertainment factor.
The Microsoft feel-good ad was just and only that. I don’t own or have use for a portable tablet, but enjoy my Office software. That won’t make me buy or even remember Microsoft in the future just like I don’t drink Budweiser but recall their feel-good ads every year even when they don’t advertise like this past SB. I won’t remember Microsoft’s effort shortly.
Regarding reviews, yes I read them with trepidation except where consistent negatives appear. I subscribe to and believe in the objectivity and independence of Consumer Reports.

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