PopCorners “Breaks into something good” in first-ever Super Bowl ad

PopCorners sought to use the 2023 Super Bowl to influence American purchase habits and drive sales lift across its product line over a sustained period. Learn how Zappi's Amplify Ad System helped them do it.

Key outcomes

  • A creative & effective Super Bowl ad

    PopCorners’ first Super Bowl ad was lauded for its creativity and year-over-year growth rate of the brand’s sales nearly doubled.

  • Optimized to drive creative impact

    Rich consumer insights gave the team the opportunity to select the most promising creative from the start and optimize it throughout the process, leading to higher creative effectiveness.

  • Validated to deliver high ROI

    A superior prediction of in-market effectiveness enabled the team to invest with confidence, ensuring they’re making the best return on their Super Bowl media dollars.


Making a big splash at the big game

There is no more coveted marketing opportunity than the Super Bowl. With the chance to reach 113 million viewers and a lot of money on the line — there’s no room for error. 

In 2023, PopCorners sought the big game ad as a formal introduction to the American public. The goal wasn’t just to create a buzzy advertisement to provide a temporary boost to brand awareness. It was to influence purchase habits for consumers and drive sales lift across its product line over a sustained period. 

To do that, the ad needed to highlight key product differentiators and tell a memorable story. 


Using Zappi’s Amplify Ad System to help create a winning ad

To make this ambition a reality, PopCorners tapped into PepsiCo’s established process for ensuring consistent, highly effective ads. With Zappi’s Amplify Ad System, PepsiCo weaves consumer data and insights into every step of its creation process — ideation and storyboarding, animatic concepts, to post-production commercials.

From brand recall to purchase intent and emotional response, PopCorners gained real insight at each phase of the creative process. Further, they were able to compare the data on this Super Bowl ad against established benchmarks from the over 1,000 ads tested by PepsiCo and the over 6,000 ever tested on the Zappi platform. 

Here’s how that process created one of the year’s most popular ads.


1. Finding the right creative direction

The brand narrowed down its big-game advertisement to three concepts, each with wildly different settings, spokespeople and product descriptions. 

To understand which concept had the most potential, PopCorners created simple photo storyboard concepts with narration, where consumers could understand the dialogue and story long before production began. 

The concept starring the Breaking Bad co-stars, Bryan Cranston and Aaron Paul, scored 10% higher on ad distinctiveness and created an emotional response 27% stronger than other concepts, while relaying the clearest understanding of the unique offering of PopCorners. 

The team used these learnings to identify the concept, “Breaking into Something Good” had the best potential to create an impactful viewing experience.


2. Optimizing the settings, characters and themes

Before investing in production, PopCorners produced and tested four animatics to optimize the settings, characters and theme. While all concepts performed well, one-in-three consumers (32%) were more likely to purchase the product after watching the ad from the winning concept.

But PopCorners knew there was still room for improvement. 

For example, the team found that featuring the red “kettle corn” flavor resulted in consumers to repeatedly reference sister brand, Doritos, in verbatim feedback. To ensure strong recall, the team decided to instead feature the blue “white cheddar” flavor during the big game.

Because of this change and many more, PopCorners doubled the “creative sales impact” measure on consumer testing (from 44 to 91 on a 100-point scale) and prompted a 20% increase in brand recall in the process. 


3. Making the final checks to invest with confidence

With days to spare before the big game, PopCorners tested its big-game ready ad for the last time. Because PopCorners had gone through an iterative cycle to determine effectiveness at multiple steps, they were able to validate their assumptions and go into the big game confidently. 

The results speak for themselves: The Super Bowl ad tested in the 92nd percentile for creative sales impact and in the 88th percentile for creative brand impact. Further, the advertisement over-indexed on brand recall and emotional response. Consumers loved it!

Finally, on a 1-10 scale, PopCorners asked consumers a simple question: “Is this ad Super Bowl worthy?” To this, more than half of respondents (51%) answered with ‘10’ — the highest possible score — with an average response of 8.4/10. 


A Super Bowl ad consumers loved

As a result of PopCorners rigorous research processes, the brand was able to deliver an ad that was lauded for its creativity and effectiveness — ranked by The Drum as its #3 most effective Super Bowl ad on the night and #5 by USA Today’s Ad Meter.

Not only did the campaign reach 113 million engaged viewers on the night of the Super Bowl, but consumers came back for more. PopCorners’ YouTube page amassed over 15 million views of the ads since being released and the Frito-Lay TikTok page saw follower count rise from about 2,000 followers to over 150,000 following social posts about the ad. 

And most importantly, in the month following the Super Bowl appearance, the year-over-year growth rate of PopCorners sales nearly doubled, with an even bigger increase on the featured “white cheddar” flavor from the commercials.

Since partnering with Zappi, we have seen our creative effectiveness improve by almost 30% across all our advertising. This equates to PepsiCo gaining hundreds of millions in value from greater creative effectiveness this year!
Stephan GansChief Insights and Analytics Officer at PepsiCo
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