Big Bowl Vote 2021 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 staying power of humorous alcohol ads. While an alcohol ad didn’t take the top place as most favorite (that honor belongs to State Farm), even in a year with fewer alcohol advertisements than normal, Bud Light ads still ranked in the top five with the youth who took our survey. While the Bud Light advertisements proved popular with our survey takers ranking as the third favorite, it performed less well with adults. The Bud Light ad took 10th place on USATODAY’s Ad Meter, which ranks Super Bowl ads by consumer rating. Also interesting, our youth’s favorite ad, “Drake from State Farm” was only the 8th most popular according to the USATODAY Ad Meter.

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 ads that they did primarily because they found the ad funny and it featured a celebrity that they liked. For example, the 2021 Big Bowl Vote’s winning ad featured the rapper Drake, who’s core demographic is mostly comprised of millennials and Gen Zers. All panelists of USATODAY’s Ad Meter must be over the age of 18, which helps account for the fairly large popularity discrepancy.

Who Participated in the Big Bowl Vote?

799 students participated in the Big Bowl Vote from 9 states:

  • Alaska (1 student)
  • Connecticut (71 students)
  • Illinois (28 students)
  • Mississippi (19 students)
  • New York (8 students)
  • Ohio (47 students)
  • Pennsylvania (384 student)
  • South Dakota (13 students)
  • Virginia (228 students)

Which Ads Were Young People’s Favorite?

Of those 799 students, 526 watched the Super Bowl, 181 watched just the ads that ran during the Super Bowl, and 92 watched neither. That means that approximately 88% 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):

  • State Farm (100)
  • Doritos (67)
  • Bud Light (56)The young people who took the Big Bowl Vote typically didn’t distinguish which of Bud Light’s multiple ads they liked, so we’ve combined them all into one category.
  • Cheetos (52)
  • Amazon Alexa (38)
  • GM Electric Cars (32)
  • Mtn Dew (32)
  • Paramount+ (31)
  • Pepsi (31)
  • M&Ms (27)
  • Tide (23)
  • T-Mobile (23)
  • DoorDash (19)
  • Frito-Lay (15)
  • Rocket Mortgage (15)
  • Cadillac (14)
  • Toyota (13)
  • Uber Eats (11)

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 (339)
  • They liked the celebrities featured in the ads (191)
  • They liked the story the ads told (133)
  • They liked the music (106)
  • The liked the brand or product represented (101)
  • They liked the ads special effects (77)
  • Some other reason (12)

How Many Ads for Alcohol Products Did Young People See?

 

Of the 707 students who watched the game and/or ads run during the Super Bowl:

  • 98 students didn’t remember seeing any ads for alcohol products during the Super Bowl
  • 110 students said they saw one
  • 109 said they saw two
  • 80 said they saw three
  • 37 said they saw four
  • 16 said they saw five
  • 32 said they saw six or more

Appendix of Tables

How Many Ads for Alcohol Products Did Young People See?

  • 98 students didn’t remember seeing any ads for alcohol products during the Super Bowl
  • 110 students said they saw one
  • 109 said they saw two
  • 80 said they saw three
  • 37 said they saw four
  • 16 said they saw five
  • 32 said they saw six or more

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

  • The ads were funny (169)
  • They liked the celebrity that was featured (100)
  • They didn’t like the ads (94)
  • They liked the story the ads told (70)
  • They liked the special effects in the ads (67)
  • They liked the music in the ads (57)
  • They liked the brand/product (21)
  • Some other reason (1)

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

  • The ads were funny (136)
  • They liked the celebrity in the ad (105)
  • They liked the story the ad told (85)
  • They liked the ad’s special effects (72)
  • They liked the brand or product (67)
  • They liked the music in the ad (52)
  • They didn’t remember any (42)
  • Some other reason (5)

What Did Young People Like About Their Favorite Ads?

  • The ads were funny (339)
  • They liked the celebrities featured in the ads (191)
  • They liked the story the ads told (133)
  • They liked the music (106)
  • The liked the brand or product represented (101)
  • They liked the ads special effects (77)
  • Some other reason (12)

What Did Young People Remember About their Favorite Ads?

  • They thought the ad was funny (220)
  • They liked the celebrity featured (153)
  • They liked the brand/product (114)
  • They liked the music (87)
  • They liked the story it told (79)
  • They liked the special effects (67)
  • Some other reason (11)

What Were Young People’s Favorite Ads?

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

  • State Farm (100)
  • Doritos (67)
  • Bud Light (56)The young people who took the Big Bowl Vote typically didn’t distinguish which of Bud Light’s multiple ads they liked, so we’ve combined them all into one category.
  • Cheetos (52)
  • Amazon Alexa (38)
  • GM Electric Cars (32)
  • Mtn Dew (32)
  • Paramount+ (31)
  • Pepsi (31)
  • M&Ms (27)
  • Tide (23)
  • T-Mobile (23)
  • DoorDash (19)
  • Frito-Lay (15)
  • Rocket Mortgage (15)
  • Cadillac (14)
  • Toyota (13)
  • Uber Eats (11)

Who Participated in the Big Bowl Vote?

799 students participated in the Big Bowl Vote from 9 states:

  • Alaska (1 student)
  • Connecticut (71 students)
  • Illinois (28 students)
  • Mississippi (19 students)
  • New York (8 students)
  • Ohio (47 students)
  • Pennsylvania (384 student)
  • South Dakota (13 students)
  • Virginia (228 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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