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Super Bowl Ads Double Down on Social Media

Super Bowl XLVIII wasn’t exactly the tight match-up experts were hyping up this past Sunday. However, as Denver struggled to hang with a dominant Seattle defense, brands competed for every second of your valuable attention.

While the expensive and high-production Super Bowl TV spots have been front-and-center for years now, many companies have been utilizing other avenues such as social media to leverage their brand awareness. Check out some of the biggest successes and a few failures for Super Bowl social media marketing.

Esurance Contest Dominates Twitter

Perhaps the ad that had the most immediate visible effect was one that premiered directly after the big game. The minute the game ended, viewers were greeted by The Office star John Krasinski sitting next to a sizable pile of cash. The setup was anyone on Twitter who used the hashtag #EsuranceSave30 before Tuesday afternoon would be eligible to win $1.5 million.

Participants also had no limit to the amount of times they could use the hashtag. With its simple rules and ostensibly non-existent barrier of entry, the brand easily positioned itself to take over the microblogging empire.

Real-Time Branding Pays Off

While Twitter and Facebook were ablaze with talk of this year’s big Super Bowl ads, some brands found cheaper alternatives to be a part of the conversation. Piggybacking on Oreo’s 2013 Blackout ad, many brands found success in a real-time social media strategy.

For instance, JC Penney had no air time during this year’s game, yet still managed to pull 118,201 social mentions thanks to its bizarre “mittens” tweets. (Though some people assumed whoever was behind the account was drunk.)

DiGiorno Pizza and Buffalo Wild Wings also scored its share of retweets by cleverly finding ways to tie their ad campaigns to the near blowout of a game.

Note: This wasn’t the first time DiGiorno has had real-time success. They also gained significant attention for their Sound of Music live-tweeting. 

Social Message Goes Viral

One of the most interesting social media plays that came out of this year’s Super Bowl wasn’t for a brand at all. A YouTube video commissioned by the National Congress of American Indians used Sunday’s events to shine attention on the controversial use of Native American stereotypes in American sports iconography.

Touted as the “the most important Super Bowl ad that never aired,” the organization capitalized on the timely nature of the event to shed light on a sensitive subject in the industry. The ad specifically calls out the increasingly insensitive name of the Washington Redskins and features all-star Native American athletes who have contributed to American football over the years. The video made the rounds on social media and currently has more than 1,342,000 views.

Lost in the Sauce

While social media played a huge part in Sunday’s ad bonanza, brands are still figuring out how to effectively utilize new media platforms and bring awareness to their products. However, despite the few exceptions, the majority of strategies, hashtags and viral videos spat out by agencies were lost in the echo chamber.

Even companies like H&M that spent millions in an integrated TV and an ambitious t-Commerce campaign failed to drive their message home and set the social media world on fire. How did you guys feel about this year’s Super Bowl social media?

About the author

Jaime Spector