Late-game Super Bowl advertisers scored extra ratings points for their bucks as viewership for the cliffhanger between the New England Patriots and New York Giants surged north of 100 million.
The single most-seen ad in the game, media ratings service The Nielsen Co. reported Thursday, aired in the fourth quarter: At 9:44 p.m. ET, 103.7 million viewers watched sultry Victoria's Secret model Adriana Lima flirt in lingerie.
The most-watched Super Bowl game ever, which averaged 97.4 million viewers, topped out at 112.2 million viewers at 10:02 p.m., 10 minutes before the end. The 10 most-watched ads all tallied more viewers than the game average.
"Those are staggering numbers," says Tom Ziangas, a vice president at Nielsen Sports. "The game did build viewers. It was a game that was extremely competitive, and that last quarter built to a crescendo."
No. 2 behind Victoria's Secret was a fourth-quarter ad for PepsiCo's pepAmp energy drink. In it, a chubby, hairy, bare-chested tow-truck driver gets so much energy from Amp that he can clamp cables to his nipples and jump-start a car.
Victoria's Secret was singing about its decision to create an ad for late in the game. The fourth-quarter placement was driven by the ad's theme. With Brenda Lee's I'm in the Mood for Love playing, the ad says the game will soon end and the real fun will begin (and, by the way, Valentine's Day is almost here).
"It was a bargain relative to all other media and advertising," says Ed Razek, chief creative officer for Limited Brands, ltdwhich owns Victoria's Secret. "We're very pleased with the results. We were the only commercial in the Super Bowl that recognized the Super Bowl, recognized our timing and recognized our brand."
The viewer totals made the average ad cost of $2.7 million for 30 seconds in the game seem reasonable.
"If people wanted to reach that many viewers across top network shows, they would need to buy at least a dozen spots," Ziangas says. "People like Victoria's Secret and Pepsi got their money's worth."
Pepsi agrees. "Our goal was to raise exposure and awareness for Amp, and reaching that huge audience is icing on the cake," spokeswoman Nicole Bradley says.
Super Bowl ad winners among other measures tracked by units of Nielsen:
•Most replayed on DVRs. Walt Disney's The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian was the most-replayed ad via DVR, with 4.1 million viewers.
PepsiCo had two of the top five ads most replayed on DVRs: Naomi Campbell and dancing lizards for SoBe Life Water at No. 3 and, at No. 4, a Doritos ad with a mousetrap and a giant rat that was a leftover from Doritos' amateur ad contest for last year's Super Bowl.
•Getting most online buzz. Pepsi got the most buzz for its Justin Timberlake Pepsi Stuff promotion. E-Trade's two baby ads were second and fourth in Nielsen's online buzz barometer.