It's not that Pepsi didn't get a lot of mentions on microblogs and other new digital media. And people had positive things to say about the commercials that aired. It's that Volkswagen got the most mentions, and the most positive mentions, simply by releasing a single ad -- its adorable Darth Vader spot -- just four days before the big game, according to buzz measurement company Alterian.
Groupon also got noticed more than most advertisers on social media, but for all the wrong reasons, Alterian's study shows.
In terms of total social engagement on the web, Pepsi, Doritos and Volkswagen all came top (click to enlarge):
The ranking measures both the total number of mentions and their "reach," i.e. how many people the mentions were exposed to. A score of 100 represents the average Super Bowl advertiser. Pepsi, Doritos and VW all got greater than twice the level of social engagement that average advertisers got. (VW and Doritos both got about 10,000 actual mentions each.)
Groupon does well in this ranking -- sixth -- but once you factor in how positive or negative the mentions were you can see why:
Groupon -- which ran an ad that made cruel fun of the human rights situation in Tibet -- came dead last in this ranking, because almost 13% of all its mentions were negative and 81 percent were neutral. A score of 100 represents the average Super Bowl advertiser, and Groupon earned somewhere near a -100 score. Volkswagen, Pepsi and Doritos gathered three or four times more positive sentiment in social media than average brands.
Online buzz is becoming more important, Alterian suggests, because there was a 61 percent increase in the number of online conversations about Super Bowl advertising over last year.
And that's why PepsiCo should take a hard look at these results. Despite PepsiCo's lengthy campaign to build buzz, VW achieved more in a shorter timeframe simply because it had the best ad. Creative ideas, not the medium they're made in, are still the most important factor.