Social Super Bowl: Who Really Won?

February 6, 2014
Social super bowl
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Today the Super Bowl seems to be known for one thing: the ads. The Super Bowl is now the Social Super Bowl. Sure, you have sports fans tuning in to watch the game but more than likely the 111.5 million viewers that tuned in Sunday night were not all Broncos or Seahawks fans. The 2014 Super Bowl ads are what entice most viewers and the way companies are marketing during the event is changing. Of course you’ll have the staple advertisers; it wouldn’t be the Super Bowl without beer and car commercials. However, there is a trend toward social media and professional blogger opinions that is giving the antiquated commercial some added value.

Social Media Interception

I’m not going to say that the much-anticipated Super Bowl commercial has no value. That would be as outrageous as saying the Broncos had a chance in the last quarter of their imminent defeat. The commercial is giving brand visibility to the hundred million Americans that are watching the game. I will say however, there are more valuable spends for your brand. Most brands cannot afford to commit to the $5MM ad spend (not to mention the production costs.) The alternative could be taking your creativity to social media.

Marketers are after one thing – and it’s not the Lombardi Trophy. They want to break through the clutter and stand out during the Super Bowl. They don’t do it through X’s and O’s, but by drawing up marketing strategies centered around social media. If you can produce the most buzz on social media about your brand, you take home the trophy. So who won #SuperBowlXLVIII?

Standard Forward Pass

As one of the top advertisers for the Super Bowl, Budweiser has always been the quarterback, leading the competition in ads for the big game.

This year, Budweiser was already receiving praise prior to the big game for the commercial that they pre-released, titled #BestBuds. The commercial featured the infamous Clydesdale, the “Budweiser Man” and a story meant to bring the audience to tears. Essentially, it’s the same commercial as last year, they just added a puppy. Don’t get me wrong; I may have shed a few tears while watching it. It was definitely a safe play that only earned modest coverage.

Hail Mary

No one expected JCPenney to have a shot at the Super Bowl but it is clear that they had a plan in place. During the game, a series of posts came from the JCP Twitter account that appeared to be #DrunkTweets. This particular tweet got over 20,000 retweets, 10,000 favorites and grew 10,000 additional followers for the brand.

The brand later revealed that they were #TweetingWithMittens, a promotion for the “Team USA” mittens.

Of course, people all over the twitter-sphere replied. Some were confused while others were entertained. Brands hopped onto their strategy, offering up advise to the seemingly intoxicated tweeter. Coors advised JCP to “tweet responsibly.” Snickers jabbed that JCP isn’t itself when hungry and Kia Motors offered a designated driver. Overall the strategy proved to be successful for JCP and even caught the attention of a few big name advertisers.


The MVP of the marketing game was, hands down, Esurance. Their strategic buy for the immediate ad after the big game was a huge play. Not only did their timing save costs, it was in-line with their brand messaging: saving money. Jim Halpert – err John Krasinski – appeared on air to reveal that the $1.5MM savings would be awarded to one lucky viewer. Each time someone tweets #EsuranceSave30 they are entered for a chance to win.

The hashtag has been trending nationally and globally for over 24 hours. Since the cost of trending on Twitter is assumed at around $250K, the brand continues to save money.

Final Score    

All of these brands deserve some glory for their successful marketing tactics. Now that the playbook has been revealed to the public, we see they have one thing in common: social media. Without having a social media strategy incorporated in your marketing plan, you can’t expect your fans (aka brand advocates) to rally behind you.


What was your favorite Super Bowl commercial?

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