At $5.5 million for a 30-second spot, investing in a Super Bowl ad is like a board-approved bet for growth stage brands. And in spite of hesitation from some stalwart advertisers, 19 new brands chose to make their Big Game debut this year, up from 11 first-time advertisers last year. 

At first glance, the bet has paid off for lesser-known newcomers like Dr. Squatch, Dexcom and Vroom:

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  • Dr. Squatch, the fast-growing soap brand, took a chance with an offbeat ad and tied with Paramount+ for first place in driving post-game awareness. And the ad’s unconventional take on an infomercial succeeded in changing consumer perception: the day after watching the ad, consumers were significantly more likely to associate Dr. Squatch with attributes such as ‘innovative’ (+23%), ‘young’ (+20%) and ‘visionary’ (+14%).
  • Dexcom, a glucose monitoring system manufacturer, called on Nick Jonas to create buzz in a relatively sleepy industry. Awareness for Dexcom shot up by 7% following the Super Bowl. Post-airtime, the brand received significantly higher ratings from consumers for attributes such as ‘trustworthy’ (+19%) and ‘wholesome’ (+14%).
  • Vroom, the used car e-tailer, was the most obvious benefactor of COVID-era restrictions, and its darkly comedic take on buying a car netted the brand an 8% uptick in consumers who view it as “fun” — outpacing all other Super Bowl advertisers on this metric the day after. And like other entrants, Vroom saw a 5% gain in Awareness post-game.

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Unplanned and eleventh-hour entrants like Oatly and Reddit also enjoyed success with non-traditional and polarizing debut ads. Reddit’s marketing team put a 5-second ad together in less than a week, but drew instant buzz on social media — while Oatley’s ‘love it or hate it’ ad commanded a spot in almost all of the major post-game ad recaps. 

These underdogs may not have been the star of the show, but our initial results suggest that lesser-known brands reaped the rewards from their first-time Super Bowl ads.

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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.

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