While a majority of every age group watched the Super Bowl this year, younger viewers were the most engaged on the whole. Millennials were by far the likeliest age group to report watching the game at 83%. Gen Z-ers were not quite as likely to watch as Millennials, but still reported 68% viewership, one shy of second-place Gen X-ers at 69%.
Young viewers were also significantly more likely to seek out Super Bowl ads, with 56% of Millennials and 40% of Gen Z watching at least one ad early, as compared to only 33% of Boomers and 24% of viewers from the Silent Generation. There is reason to believe that these high marks among young Americans may be even higher in future years. Gen Z-ers were by far the most likely (24%) to report that they would not watch the game because it was irresponsible for the NFL to host an event during the COVID-19 pandemic, a unique circumstance that should disappear by the next big game.
Interestingly, these younger viewers did not respond well to ads that were perceived as “young.” Amazon Prime Video, for example, saw a 7% decrease in equity among Gen Z viewers, while receiving a 17% lift in “young.” Amazon’s Alexa spot, on the other hand, drove a 3% lift in brand equity for Gen Z while declining by 8% in “young.” These findings track well with our pregame survey results, in which “youth-oriented” was one of the least-desired characteristics for Super Bowl ads across all age groups.
Bud Light also saw success in appealing to younger viewers. Bud Light Seltzer’s “Last Year’s Lemons” spot performed well across the board, ranking as one of the most remembered (33%) and most laugh-inducing (29%) ads of the evening. The ad did especially well with Gen Z, earning Bud Light a 5% equity lift among that age group, along with a 5% decline in “young.” The spot also appealed to Millennials, making the list of top 5 most enjoyed ads for that generation, with 22% of Millennials enjoying it. The brand’s clever choice to station Instagram influencer @dudewithsign (7.4M followers) in the game’s live audience may have contributed to this overperformance with social media-savvy young Americans.
Overall, despite the gaps in enthusiasm and viewership between the generations, the best-performing overall ads did similarly well across all age groups. Doritos’ “Flat Matthew” was selected as enjoyable by 29% of Gen Z-ers and 30% of Baby Boomers. Cheetos’ “It Wasn’t Me” was enjoyed by 26% of Gen Z, 34% of Gen X, and 33% of Boomers, all significantly higher than the average brand. This suggests that while appealing t9 specific age groups is a viable strategy, excellent creative work can attract viewers of all ages without sacrificing youth engagement.