COM0011 Blog Post #1 Social Media Rewrites the Super Bowl Advertising Playbook

For decades the Super Bowl has been the centerpiece of advertising campaigns for large corporations in the United States. These companies spend millions of dollars for the airtime and production of these 30-second or 1 minute commercials. The productions are spectacular, often employing the top celebrities of popular culture. In the past, these ads were kept very secret. Part of the appeal was the anticipation leading up to the airing of the ads. Some companies went so far as to produce 2 ads but not letting it known which ad would be aired.

Companies have changed their strategy due to social media. They now realize that it is key to be part of the conversation sooner than later. As stated in the Guardian’s article “The ads of Super Bowl 2014: a popularity contest with puppies” by Tom Morton,

“This was the first Super Bowl where the ads were already in the public domain weeks in advance of the event”. Not only were the ads in discussion before the Super Bowl, they encouraged it during the game. Morton goes on to explain how many of the advertisers used Twitter to promote online incentives and contests during the game to further the reach of their ads.

Social media also affected the content of the ads. Historically these ads followed the traditional advertising model of hard selling their product or service. They relied on a bold spectacle to promote brand awareness. The point was to get people talking about the ads around the water coolers of America the next day. This year showed a change in the role of these ads. Now they are only a part of the ongoing conversation that is taking place on social media. There was a major shift in the content of the ads. Many of the ads didn’t even mention a product. Instead they were awareness messages for such causes as cancer survivors and (RED) TM the Global Fund to support AIDS programs.

Why is this? Simon Mainwaring states in his article “The 7-stage Evolution of a Socially Responsible Brand, “The payoff for corporate engagement with customers has risen dramatically as a result of social media”. It is more important to get customers involved with your cause than it is to make them aware of the virtues of your product. Let’s face it; a conversation about making the world a better place will last a lot longer on social media than one about whether our pistachios taste better or not.


8 thoughts on “COM0011 Blog Post #1 Social Media Rewrites the Super Bowl Advertising Playbook

  1. Hi there, I found this way of marketing in advance of the Superbowl to be very clever. Also, the blackout for 34 minutes created some interesting marketing too. During the third quarter of Super Bowl XLVII when a power outage at the Superdome caused some of the lights to go out for 34 minutes, Oreo cookie’s social media team tweeted an ad that read “Power Out? No problem” “You can still dunk in the dark.” The tweet caught on immediately, and got 15,000 retweets. I also understand there were 23 million tweets in total. during the Superbowl.

  2. I think Doritos did it best with its contest for best commercial created and voted-on by the consumer. The winning commercial was announced by being aired during the Super Bowl. This brought them months of attention and buzz.

  3. I think it’s clever, too. I didn’t follow the ads too much but the one I did follow was Scarlett Johansson for SodaStream. It riled up some controversy: SodaStream representing the Israeli/Palestinian conflict and Scarlett being stripped off her title as Oxfam ambassador by choosing to side with the Israeli company.

    The catch phrase of the televised ad was, “If only I could make this message go viral” which is pretty catchy and I think it did just that. It replaced the line, “Sorry Coke and Pepsi” – not sure why…

    The controversy prior to the Superbowl can do a lot for the company. It gets people talking and I know, myself included, that the SuperBowl is the only time of the year when people DON’T talk through commercials! People at parties would already have something to talk about, the name of your brand will stick from the conversations, and word of mouth is still one of the most effective types of marketing. I’m torn with the brilliance of marketing during the Superbowl because it highlights the power of it and how we are all the target for all this snappiness, graphics, and brand vision.

    Love the Doritos flavour idea! What was it this year?

      • Oh too bad. Ha, this discussion got me looking up all the flavours — Japan has Clam Chowder doritos!

        I”m now intrigued to look all the ads up now, too!

  4. The way in which companies pre-empted the “mistakenly” or truly leaked Super Bowl ads, utilizing social media to start a conversation prior to the actual game was ingenious. People are typically more invested in something that they have had a say in!

  5. Certainly, this year’s ads were a lot more interesting than the actual game! Your blog made me think about how the viewing experience has changed in sports since the introduction of social media. Look at the amount of tweeting that takes place during a game. Obviously, people are no longer glued to the action on the screen. They can’t possibly be, if they have to dedicate so much time to being part of the social media conversation as the game plays out.

  6. This is so true. I’m not a big sports person (except at Olympics time!) so I never watch the Super Bowl, but I saw a lot of the advertising for it through social media. It’s a clever way to engage their audiences and generate buzz, even among non-football fans.

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