Unruly released a list of the most shared brands for the Super Bowl last week. It’s no surprise that the brand on top of the All-Time Super Bowl Ad Share list is Volkswagen, which has over 100,000 more shares than Budweiser, the brand in second place. But, believe it or not, Super Bowl advertising favorites Coke and Pepsi failed to crack the top 10.

Now, before we take a closer look at one of the soda pop makers, let’s review another marketer who is making videos that are getting millions of shares across Facebook, Twitter, and the blogosphere. Unruly argues that the number of shares, as opposed to the number of views, is a true measure of a brand’s viral success because it ranks branded content by the volume of active pass-on rather than the more passive metric of video consumption (views).

Sharing: The True Metric of Video Ad Success

I buy Unruly’s argument – because any marketer with a big ad budget can pick one of the videos they’ve uploaded to YouTube and “promote” the hell out of it with the TrueView family of ad formats until their video has millions of views. But that’s not my definition of “going viral.”

Sharing, on the other hand, is positively correlated with key brand metrics, including higher brand recall, higher brand association, and higher purchase intent. So, it’s significant that Volkswagen is the most shared Super Bowl brand of all time, according to the data released by Unruly. The auto manufacturer’s ads have been shared more times across the social web than any other Super Bowl sponsor.

Driven by the huge success of VW’s 2011 campaign, “The Force” – which is also the most shared ad of all time – the German car maker’s ads have attracted a total of 7.07 million shares across Facebook, Twitter and the blogosphere. According to Unruly’s white paper, “Stuck in First Gear”, the campaign resulted in a 127% uplift in website traffic and drove the sale of 20,902 units. With the price of a new Passat somewhere between $20,000 and $30,000, that means “The Force” drove somewhere between $400 million and $600 million in sales. That’s what I’m talking about.


Unruly’s Top 10 Most Shared Super Bowl Brands of all Time:

  1. Volkswagen – 7,071,522
  2. Budweiser – 6,950,406
  3. Universal Pictures – 2,656,046
  4. Doritos – 2,441,100
  5. Ram Trucks – 1,893,643
  6. Chevrolet – 1,497,751
  7. Paramount Pictures – 990,328
  8. M&Ms – 737,106
  9. Samsung – 616,977
  10. Chrysler – 530,239 

With Volkswagen topping the list, automotive is the most shared sector for Super Bowl advertising, attracting over 11.8 million shares, with CPG ranking second with 9.56 million shares, while Entertainment is third with 4.01 million. Missing from the top 10 list are several Super Bowl regulars, including: Coca-Cola, Honda, Kia, and Pepsi. However, the internet marketers and video content producers at Pepsi have adopted a new strategy, which could help the cola brand break into the top 10 list this year.

Cola Wars

As E.J. Schultz of Advertising Age reported last week, “Pepsi has downsized its Super Bowl commercial buy this year, securing only a single 30-second ad for its flagship cola. That is a significant change from recent years, when line extensions such as Pepsi Next and PepsiMax shared the spotlight in separate commercials.”

Instead, the cola brand is pouring all of its resources into its sponsorship of the Super Bowl halftime show, which stars Bruno Mars and the Red Hot Chili Peppers this year. The shift in its Super Bowl strategy is being accompanied by a new “masterbrand” marketing approach that will also mean fewer stand-alone ads for sub-brands like Diet Pepsi.

Seth Kaufman, VP-marketing of colas for Pepsi North America Beverages, told Schultz, “we are fundamentally playing a different game” for the Super Bowl. The marketing effort is “no longer about 30 seconds,” said Kaufman, but “about a month long, really, really meaningful program,” which has included digital videos, halftime-themed ads aired during the NFL playoffs, and a two-and-half minute ad during the Grammy Awards.

Will Pepsi’s new strategy pay off? Well, a sneak peak at Unruly’s chart of 2014 Super Bowl Ads (So Far) indicates that it just might. The soda pop marketer has three ads in the top 10 a week before the Big Game.  This includes:

In second place with close to 44,000 shares in the last 30 days is Pepsi – There Since the First #Halftime.


In fifth place with more than 20,000 shares in the last 30 days is Pepsi #Halftime America with Lee Brice.


In sixth place with over 9,500 shares in the last 30 days is Pepsi #Halftime: What if the GRAMMYs Had a Halftime Show?


Now, a lot can happen between now and Super Bowl Sunday. Who knows, Coca-Cola could connect on a Hail Mary pass. But, Pepsi looks like they’re planning to flood the zone. For the non-athletic internet marketers and video content producers who don’t know what this means, it’s a football metaphor for putting more than one ad in a position to help the brand win the Big Game. And it may be a play that you’ll want to add to your Super Bowl playbook.