Budweiser, Pepsi step aside: One advertiser is pushing Super Bowl commercials into new era

Who can become the first three-peat Super Bowl Ad Meter winner not named Budweiser or Pepsi?

Rocket can – but will it?

Mortgage loan provider Rocket Mortgage remains on the sidelines for Super Bowl 57 as advertisers vie for America’s biggest TV audience with ads said to be in the $7-million-plus range, a record-high price tag for a 30-second commercial.

Rocket Mortgage, with Tracy Morgan and Anna Kendrick‘s star power, won the past two Ad Meters, the industry-leading ranking of Super Bowl commercials by consumer rating.

Of course, the housing industry is in much different place than it was last year, considering today’s average mortgage rates are nearly double last February’s.

So are we at the end of an era? We’re just a few years into it? 

Much like the teams that play on Super Bowl Sundays, Ad Meter has dynasties. Think Pepsi, Budweiser, Doritos. Others have flashed bright enough that they instantly become part of Ad Meter lore, like Michael Jordan squaring off against Larry Bird for McDonald’s. 

And maybe this rocket has landed. 

As USA TODAY’s Ad Meter moves into its 35th year, it’s interesting to look back at some trends and those that might be emerging while viewing a few of the commercials our raters placed in the pantheon of Super Bowl advertising. 

Fittingly, the first Ad Meter winner featured Saturday Night Live’s Dana Carvey and Jon Lovitz and their Super Bowl odyssey made possible by an American Express card. Panelists snubbed Carvey and Lovitz when they returned for American Express in 1991. Not even Jerry Seinfeld and Superman could get the credit card company back into the top 10 in 1998.

Some of Ad Meter’s winning streaks were fueled by money. From 1990 to 2006, each Super Bowl featured at least nine commercials from Budweiser, Bud Light, Pepsi or Pepsi Light.

Those dynasties were also fueled by creativity. As you’ll see below, Budweiser and Pepsi commanded multiple top spots in Ad Meter. 

Doritos experimented with consumer-submitted commercials in 2007 and was immediately rewarded with a top-10 finish. The company continued using consumer-submitted ads for the next decade and notched two No. 1 finishes in 2009 and 2012.

Carmakers can attest: Making the top 10 is no easy feat. Multiple car brands combined to place dozens of commercials in the first two decades of Ad Meter.

Just three ads broke into the top 10 before 2010. Since then, carmakers have been on a roll. In 2022, automakers bought eight ads and won four of the top 10 spots. 

After years of gathering viewer panels across the U.S., USA TODAY opened Ad Meter voting to anyone who registers on our site

The result: A bigger, more diverse group of panelists has shaken up the categories of companies in the top 10. More car and technology brands are taking more of the top spots.

After Rocket Mortgage’s second consecutive win as well as another top finish by a big tech company, could a new era in Super Bowl commercials be dawning? 

Some additional insights into Ad Meter’s best-performing brands and commercials. 

The iconic Super Bowl ads from Pepsi and Budweiser that have topped Ad Meter

In this “Best of Ad Meter” episode, USA TODAY’s Ralphie Aversa looks back at the times Pepsi and Budweiser held the top two spots on Ad Meter.

Ralphie Aversa, USA TODAY



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