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.

Interested in seeing more Brand Bowl Insights? New call-to-action

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.

Learn more about what Harris Brand Platform can do for your brand. New call-to-action

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.

New call-to-action
Abhish Raghavan

Author Abhish Raghavan

Abhish leads the brand strategy and customer insights practice for Harris. With an extensive background in data analytics as well as primary qualitative and quantitative market research, he has developed strategies and thought leadership for a number of leading Fortune 500 companies globally. Prior to joining Harris last year, Abhish was an SVP at BAV Consulting, a WPP Company.

More posts by Abhish Raghavan

Brand tracking available for a fraction of the cost of custom research

Subscriptions to Brand tracking offer you continuous, real-time tracking on five brands. With your membership, our brand tracker will collect over 10,000 interviews per brand, giving you a robust ability to conduct pre-/post-testing and dive deep into various customer groups. Create an account to see a demonstration, or shoot us an email ([email protected]) to learn more.

Request a Demo