Big Bowl Vote 2020 Report

Every year about 100 million people, including millions of teenagers, watch the Super Bowl. They watch the teams battle it out, the halftime show, and, of course, lots of advertisements for everything from laundry detergent to snacks to products containing alcohol. This poses an important question: How do ads for alcohol products impact the millions of teens who watch the Super Bowl?

Research demonstrates that when young people see ads for alcohol products, they’re more likely to drink more often and more heavily. The Big Bowl Vote is an annual event by Prevention Action Alliance that quantifies how many young people see ads for alcohol during the Super Bowl, reveals what young people like and remember about those ads, and lays bare the tactics that alcohol companies use to attract underage youth to their products. By giving young people the opportunity to vote on their favorite ads from the Super Bowl, we find just how popular ads for alcohol products are among youth. And by asking young people what they like about those ads, we can begin to show how those ads target young people.

In addition to demonstrating the influence of alcohol advertising on young people, the Big Bowl Vote gives those who work with young people an opportunity to counterbalance that influence. It’s a launching point and a teachable moment for media literacy, which is the ability to identify different types of media and understand the messages they’re sending.

What Does the Big Bowl Vote Tell Us?

Every year, the Big Bowl Vote measures the likability and recallability of ads for alcohol products that were aired during the Super Bowl. For years, it’s found that ads for products promoting alcohol are among young people’s favorite Super Bowl ads.

This year, the Big Bowl Vote revealed the power of casting celebrities popular with youth. Young people overwhelmingly chose an ad for Bud Light Seltzer that featured rapper Post Malone destroying a convenience store in a comical moment of indecision about whether to buy Bud Light or Bud Light Seltzer. While it was young people’s favorite ad, it performed less well with adults. The Bud Light ad took 15th place on USATODAY’s Ad Meter, which ranks Super Bowl ads by consumer rating.

So, if young people overwhelmingly liked an ad for an alcohol product and adults didn’t, what does that tell us? Our executive director, Marcie Seidel, pointed out that companies like Anheuser-Busch, which owns Bud Light, use celebrities like Post Malone to reach out to young people. It’s a major reason why a fourth of high school students in the U.S. binge drink and why 7 in 10 of those students already have a favorite brand of beer.

“The bottom line is that this ad appealed more to youth than it did to people who are legally allowed to purchase it. That’s unacceptable.”

—Marcie Seidel, former Executive Director, Prevention Action Alliance

Another thing the Big Bowl Vote tells us is why young people remember or like specific ads. This year, the Big Bowl Vote found that youth remembered the Bud Light Seltzer ad in large part because of the celebrity appearance by Post Malone. We also found that a large number of students remembered ads for alcohol products because they liked those products. Even though they’re not old enough to buy or consume alcoholic beverages, they’ve already determined which alcohol brands they like.

While the Big Bowl Vote doesn’t explain why youth already like alcohol brands, there is an easy explanation backed up by research: Alcohol companies intentionally or recklessly show ads for their products to underage youth. This establishes their brand as a young person’s favorite. In turn, the young person buys that product for several years to come. Researchers have consistently found that 1) youth as young as 15 have a favorite brand of alcohol and 2) that youth like brands that spend money on advertising.

Who Participated in the Big Bowl Vote?

1,217 students participated in the Big Bowl Vote from 12 states:

  • Arkansas (185 students)
  • California (20 students)
  • Florida (1 student)
  • Illinois (46 students)
  • Massachusetts (16 students)
  • Minnesota (45 students)
  • New Jersey (56 students)
  • New York (74 students)
  • Ohio (604 students)
  • Oregon (2 students)
  • Pennsylvania (1 student)
  • Wisconsin (167 students)

Which Ads Were Young People’s Favorite?

Of those 1,217 students, 774 watched the Super Bowl, 113 watched just the ads that ran during the Super Bowl, and 330 watched neither. That means that approximately three fourths (73%) of students watched the advertisements that ran during the Super Bowl, including ads for alcohol.

Big Bowl Voters got to pick up to three favorite ads. Their choices were (ads for products containing alcohol have been bolded; ads with less than 10 votes have been excluded):

  • Bud Light (145)
  • Doritos (128)
  • Planters (112)
  • Amazon (88)
  • Google (80)
  • Jeep (63)
  • Tide (62) The young people who took the Big Bowl Vote typically didn’t distinguish which of Tide’s four ads they liked, so we’ve combined them all into one category. Additionally, one Tide ad featured Bud Knight, a character created by Anheuser-Busch to promote Budweiser products and who has been popular with young people in previous Big Bowl Votes.
  • Hyundai (56)
  • NFL (55)
  • Mountain Dew (50)
  • Sabra (47)
  • Cheetos (45)
  • Budweiser (37)
  • Michelob Ultra (36)
  • Pringles (34)
  • Rocket Mortgage (32)
  • Snickers (29)
  • Pepsi (28)
  • WeatherTech (24)
  • Walmart (24)
  • Procter & Gamble (19)
  • Hulu (18)
  • Coca-Cola (15)
  • Disney Plus (12)
  • State Farm (12)
  • Avocados from Mexico (12)
  • Porsche (11)
  • Michelob Gold (10)

What Did Young People Like About Their Favorite Ads?

Big Bowl Voters gave the following reasons why they liked their favorite ads:

  • The ads were funny (657)
  • They liked the celebrities featured in the ads (373)
  • They liked the story the ads told (294)
  • The liked the brand or product represented (219)
  • They liked the music (195)
  • They liked the ads special effects (169)
  • Some other reason (12)

Overwhelmingly youth were drawn to humor, however, many of them were also attracted by the celebrities featured in an ad. Of note, the Bud Light ad featuring rapper Post Malone running into shelves in a convenience store includes both of these elements. The proportion of youth who cited a celebrity as the reason they liked the ad was higher for the Bud Light ad (64 percent) than overall (19 percent).

How Many Ads for Alcohol Products Did Young People See?

 

Of the 887 students who watched the game and/or ads run during the Super Bowl:

  • 161 students didn’t remember seeing any ads for alcohol products during the Super Bowl
  • 134 students said they saw one
  • 200 said they saw two
  • 164 said they saw three
  • 79 said they saw four
  • 45 said they saw five
  • 104 said they saw six or more

Appendix of Tables

How Many Ads for Alcohol Products Did Young People See?

  • 161 students didn’t remember seeing any ads for alcohol products during the Super Bowl
  • 134 students said they saw one
  • 200 said they saw two
  • 164 said they saw three
  • 79 said they saw four
  • 45 said they saw five
  • 104 said they saw six or more

What Did Young People Like About the Alcohol Ads They Saw?

  • The ads were funny (343)
  • They liked the celebrity that was featured (230)
  • They liked the story the ads told (160)
  • They liked the special effects in the ads (122)
  • They liked the music in the ads (121)
  • They liked the brand/product (77)
  • Some other reason (6)

What Did Young People Remember About the Alcohol Ads They Saw?

  • The ads were funny (330)
  • They liked the celebrity in the ad (253)
  • They liked the story the ad told (172)
  • They liked the music in the ad (160)
  • They liked the ad’s special effects (141)
  • They liked the brand or product (135)
  • Some other reason (14)

What Did Young People Like About Their Favorite Ads?

  • The ads were funny (657)
  • They liked the celebrities featured in the ads (373)
  • They liked the story the ads told (294)
  • The liked the brand or product represented (219)
  • They liked the music (195)
  • They liked the ads special effects (169)
  • Some other reason (12)

What Did Young People Remember About their Favorite Ads?

  • They thought the ad was funny (627)
  • They liked the celebrity featured (343)
  • They liked the story it told (280)
  • They liked the brand/product (256)
  • They liked the music (200)
  • They liked the special effects (179)
  • Some other reason (36)

What Were Young People’s Favorite Ads?

Ads for products containing alcohol have been bolded; ads with less than 10 votes have been excluded:

  • Bud Light (145)
  • Doritos (128)
  • Planters (112)
  • Amazon (88)
  • Google (80)
  • Jeep (63)
  • Tide (62) The young people who took the Big Bowl Vote typically didn’t distinguish which of Tide’s four ads they liked, so we’ve combined them all into one category. Additionally, one Tide ad featured Bud Knight, a character created by Anheuser-Busch to promote Budweiser products and who has been popular with young people in previous Big Bowl Votes.
  • Hyundai (56)
  • NFL (55)
  • Mountain Dew (50)
  • Sabra (47)
  • Cheetos (45)
  • Budweiser (37)
  • Michelob Ultra (36)
  • Pringles (34)
  • Rocket Mortgage (32)
  • Snickers (29)
  • Pepsi (28)
  • WeatherTech (24)
  • Walmart (24)
  • Procter & Gamble (19)
  • Hulu (18)
  • Coca-Cola (15)
  • Disney Plus (12)
  • State Farm (12)
  • Avocados from Mexico (12)
  • Porsche (11)
  • Michelob Gold (10)

Who Participated in the Big Bowl Vote?

1,217 students participated in the Big Bowl Vote from 12 states:

  • Arkansas (185 students)
  • California (20 students)
  • Florida (1 student)
  • Illinois (46 students)
  • Massachusetts (16 students)
  • Minnesota (45 students)
  • New Jersey (56 students)
  • New York (74 students)
  • Ohio (604 students)
  • Oregon (2 students)
  • Pennsylvania (1 student)
  • Wisconsin (167 students)

About the Big Bowl Vote

We created the Big Bowl Vote to educate communities on the effects ads for alcohol have on young people, to empower educators and others who work with youth to promote critical thinking, and to advocate for community dialogues about advertisements for alcohol in our communities.

The Big Bowl Vote wouldn’t be possible without the participation of thousands of young people and their teachers, community leaders, and other adult allies who collect tallies, administer surveys, and lead important conversations about media literacy.

We at Prevention Action Alliance would like to thank all participants for taking part in the Big Bowl Vote. We know it can be difficult to make time for the Big Bowl Vote, and we appreciate the efforts you’ve made to collect data and build media literacy skills among young people. Thank you for playing your role in prevention.

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