“The Super Bowl? I just watch it for the ads.”
To some, these words are blasphemy – a rejection of the noble sport of football that’s dominated American culture for over a century. But to many others, it’s a perfectly logical statement. Each and every year, the Big Game draws legions of Americans to their television screens. This year’s game actually ranked as the most viewed event in American television history, with over 111.5 million people tuning in. With such high viewing numbers, it should be no surprise that the Super Bowl is considered something of a Holy Grail among advertisers.
Each and every year, various companies and agencies scheme to outdo one another and create the most memorable ad to air during the big game. With the recent rise of social media and social media marketing, an entirely new type of consumer engagement has manifested itself. Twitter, in particular, has seen a series of well-publicized campaigns over the past few years, ranging from spectacularly brilliant to downright alarmingly unintelligent. This year was no exception.
Esurance posted incredible engagement figures in response to its postgame ad, which featured actor John Krasinski offering viewers the opportunity to win $1.5 million by using its hashtag #EsuranceSave30. The insurance company received more than 2.1 million tweets, 200,000 of which were posted within one minute of the ad airing. According to Leo Burnett, the ad agency that represents Esurance, the campaign has received over 1 billion impressions since Sunday.
Unfortunately, not all brands came out swinging with equally successful campaigns. Retailer J.C. Penney drew flak for a series of terribly misspelled tweets that led legions of people to assume that the person running the account was drunk. In reality, the tweets were part of an elaborate marketing campaign to promote the retailer’s new collection of mittens. When combined with consumer paranoia regarding recent hacks at Target and Nordstrom, it’s safe to say that this move did not benefit J.C. Penney, despite contributing to increased brand exposure.
Brands such as Coca Cola and Tide responded to other ads, loading up users’ timelines with witty responses and links to their own products. Meanwhile, other brands such as Progressive Insurance and Oreo – who had the most memorable tweet of last year’s Super Bowl – took the opportunity to thank their followers prior to kickoff and then went completely dark, eschewing the tweet-happy campaigns of their competitors.
Whether social media enhances marketing during this type of major event or simply serves as another distraction from the spectacle at hand is up for debate. However, for most, it’s no secret that the Super Bowl ads themselves are the spectacle.
[Sources: CBS News, Mashable]