Every year, the Super Bowl offers up the best of the best in advertising—but which ads are most lovable, and why? These are the questions we set out to answer when we kicked off our Super Bowl Great Ad Playoffs last week.

We picked twenty of the most noteworthy Super Bowl ads from the last five years (according to a mix of sources), then asked hundreds of viewers to narrow it down to just one winner through a series of match-ups that imitate the NFL Playoff format. Viewers watched the ads in our video evaluation suite, Lumière™, assigning ratings and comments to the ads as a whole as well as to specific features of the ads. Ultimately, three metrics were used to determine the winning ads: overall enjoyment, memorability and shareability.

Click to learn more about Lumière™

This week, the four best ads from 2010-2013 went up against the four best ads from 2014 (as determined by a review of multiple sources). The winning ad from all five years was Budweiser’s “Puppy Love.” Check out the graphic below to see the results.

Our participants were U.S. residents with at least some interest in the Super Bowl, ages 18-54 with an equal gender split. A minimum of 150 people participated in each head-to-head matchup.

(To view the ads referred to in this graphic, see the links at the bottom of the page.)

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What makes Budweiser’s “Puppy Love” the champion of champions?

Budweiser’s “Puppy Love” ad was the winner of our playoffs and the focus of much attention this year. It uses some classic techniques to great effect. Here are a few:

  • Story: The ad uses editing deftly to create movement in time. Without relying on any of the traditional choices (e.g., dissolves or fades) and instead with simple cuts, several smooth ellipses are created. These allow for the idea of separation and return to play out in a more satisfying way in the narrative, over a brief but meaningful time period.
  • Framing: The alternation of close-ups, medium shots, and longer shots is natural and consistent. The mix allows for intimacy and personality to come through in the close-ups, relationships in the medium shots, and broader perspective on the story in the long shots.
  • Emotional restraint: Although the ad is designed to go straight for the heart, it does so in a surprisingly understated way that delivers a stronger overall effect. No close-ups are held too long; the humans’ attraction is clear but not overdone; and the final shot from above does a great job of bringing all the relationships together without trying too hard. There’s no explicit message (aside from that mirrored through the lyrics), and the viewer is allowed to enjoy the union and reunion without obvious interference.

How did the other contenders fare?

Certain ads that may have been eliminated early because they came up against a strong competitor still performed well overall—so it’s worth taking a closer look at the overall enjoyment scores for all contenders. Two such ads include Snickers’ “Betty White” and Volkswagen’s “The Force.” (Keep in mind that memorability and shareability were also used to determine the winners—see the infographic below for the breakdown of all three metrics.)

Overall Enjoyment Scorecard

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Complete Scorecard for All Metrics

In the coming weeks, we’ll be presenting more thorough insights on why particular ads did so well—including best practices and an analysis of the most effective creative techniques to share with agencies, marketers and video content creators.

View Super Bowl ads featured in the final rounds:

2010 – 2013