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Need Some Joy Back in January? Here Are 2020’s Happiest Super Bowl Ads!

This week marks an exciting landmark! In a month’s time (February 7), Super Bowl LV will kick off at the Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida! 

It’s been a rocky start to the year so far, with many of us continuing to experience the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic. However, there’s a lot to look forward to in 2021, especially from a sports perspective as delayed tournaments, including the Olympic Games, are set to make a return to our screens. 

First up is the Super Bowlwhich will be very different to previous years, with the match playing out to an empty stadium, however, one thing will remain the same for all of us watching at home — the commercial breaks! 

While we wait for this year’s Super Bowl ads to begin arriving, and to inject a bit of joy into your January, we’ve delved into our emotional database to uncover which ads made viewers the happiest during last year’s Big Game. Enjoy! 

Google: Loretta

Happiness score: 22% 


This ad was also almost twice as likely to make people smile, nearly four times more heart-warming and 12 times sadder than the average US ad. Such an intense emotional response made it the most effective ad of last year’s Super Bowl 

Half of all viewers came away with a favorable view of the brand (49% vs US average of 37%) — the highest brand favorability of all the ads tested last year. Purchase intent (46%) and viewers’ willingness to find out more (47%) were also higher than the US norm. We’re excited to see whether Google can follow on from this success during next month’s game! 

T-Mobile: Mama Tests 5G

Happiness score: 23%

This spot from T-Mobile tells the hilarious story of a son and mother, with her video-calling at all hours of the day to test out the phone’s new 5G coverage. Along with a high happiness score, the ad also evoked high levels of hilarity, warmth and inspiration from viewers. 

Despite scoring above average for several positive emotions, the ad failed to convince viewers, achieving 5% below the US norm for purchase intent. Also, just over half of viewers (56%) could name T-Mobile as the brand behind the ad after watching it. 

With extended restrictions brought about by the pandemic, we’re expecting lots more ads to use technology like video calling and instant messaging to tell their stories during 2021’s big game. 

New York Life Insurance: Love Takes Action

Happiness score: 23%


This ad from New York Life Insurance scored above average for happiness, as well as inspiration, warmth and nostalgia. It’s an incredibly moving commercial and covers lots of different situations where love is present. 

The ad performed exceptionally well across all key business metrics, with 48% of viewers saying they’d like to find out more after watching the ad compared to a 39% US norm, and 45% of viewers saying they would share the ad with others compared to a 34% US norm. 

Jeep: Groundhog Day

Happiness score: 25%

The winner of last year’s happiest Super Bowl ad goes to Jeep’s “Groundhog Day”. The ad featured Bill Murray as Phil Connors from his 1993 classic, “Groundhog Day”. The spot aired during the fourth quarter of the Super Bowl on February 2, 2020, which to no coincidence is Groundhog Day! 

We’re wondering whether Jeep will play on this angle again during this year’s game. As for many of us who experienced extended lockdown periods, most days in 2020 did actually end up feeling like this! 

Like previous years, we will be testing all of 2021’s biggest Super Bowl ads using our emotional targeting and testing tool, UnrulyEQ, to understand how they performed and what emotions they evoked in audiences.  

To get access to Unruly’s Super Bowl LV Hub, click here.