Which Super Bowl LI Ads Went TV Viral?

Steve West


Super Bowl LI—a game that will be remembered for a surprising comeback that earned Tom Brady his fifth Super Bowl win while simultaneously bringing about flashbacks of election night 2016—but I digress.

And other than Lady Gaga’s leap of faith to open her halftime show, it will also be known as the year Super Bowl ads went political.

Graduating from the eccentric creative of Super Bowl 2016 (remember Mountain Dew’s #PuppyMonkeyBaby!?), many brands took on President Trump’s recent travel ban by promoting a message of diversity that celebrates our history of immigration.

However, it was the brands that stuck to age-old traditions like celebrity cameos and attempts at humor that went “TV Viral”—or inspired the most spontaneous earned and paid TV mentions—during Super Bowl Sunday night.

Here are the top 10 brands that went TV Viral:


#10 TurboTax — 1,332 TV Mentions

Everyone knows Humpty Dumpty, but seeing him actually ooze yolk while recovering from his infamous fall in a hospital? TurboTax went there and people talked about it.


#9 Wendy’s — 1,336 TV Mentions

Ok Wendy’s—we get it now. Your beef is fresh, not frozen. But Foreigner’s “Cold as Ice” is a universal crowd pleaser.


#8 Intel — 1,337 TV Mentions

Tom Brady cameo. Enough said.


#7 Bud Light — 1,463 TV Mentions

Veteran Super Bowl advertiser Bud Light introduced us to the Ghost of Spuds McKenzie, reminding us it’s not about the parties, but the Bud Lights you grab with your friends.


#6 Pepsi — 1,501 TV Mentions

An NFL sponsor since 2002, Pepsi is becoming synonymous with the Super Bowl Halftime Show. Kudos to Lady Gaga for a killer performance. BTW—is Pepsi Zero Sugar just rebranded Diet Pepsi?


#5 Tide — 1,615 TV Mentions

Somehow, two competing Super Bowl advertisers brought in Gronk for their ads. The first is this spot from Tide starring alongside Jeffrey Tambor.


#4 Febreze — 1,619 TV Mentions

Febreze’s “Halftime Bathroom Break” ad probably rang true for a majority of Super Bowl viewers, but an incredibly dull first half of the game most likely didn’t keep everyone glued to their TVs.

#3 Mercedes-Benz — 1,776 TV Mentions

As a millennial, I would have guessed that Mercedes’s throwback to “Easy Rider” would not have resonated with a larger audience, but the amount of TV mentions say otherwise.


#2 Sprint — 1,930 TV Mentions

Whoever thought to bring the old Verizon guy on board as the Sprint brand ambassador is truly a creative genius—coupled with a family faking their deaths to get out of their Verizon contract—now that’s just funny.


#1 T-Mobile — 2,644 TV Mentions

T-Mobile went with the more traditional route, and it paid off. A dance off between Justin Bieber and Gronk gave T-Mobile’s “#UnlimitedMoves” the most TV mentions throughout Super Bowl Sunday.

For more data around the biggest live TV events, check out iQ Insights, where you’ll find media stats around the most popular ads, news and events.

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