Lackluster Game Leads to Big Night for Brands

Compared to Years Past, Spots Shifted to Warm and Fuzzy

Last night, living rooms across the country were filled with families and friends gathered around the television to watch a football game…

Who are we kidding?  Most Americans were not focused on what was happening at MetLife Stadium – a good thing considering the Seahawks controlled the Broncos, from the first botched snap to the dominating defense – instead, eyes were glued to commercials and Twitter screens through four quarters of play. And brands certainly took advantage of the attention.  This year, we saw previews and trailers for the ads we would see during the big game.  Marketers across the country had social media teams ready to add their voice to the conversation throughout the night.  In today’s extremely fragmented media space, the Super Bowl is still a night for marketing to shine as bright as the teams on the field.

Spots moved away from the slapstick, raunchy humor of years past and we got a much more “warm and fuzzy” night of commercials.  I asked a few of my colleagues to join me in sharing their thoughts on which brands provided the best and worst experiences of the night, but before we do that, here’s a quick recap:

  • Anheuser-Busch brought us a variety of spots ranging from Ian Rappaport’s surprise night out to Lt. Chuck Nadd’s Hero’s Welcome Home and, of course, USA Today AdMeter favorite, “Best Buds.”
  • The abundance of auto ads was certainly not new to the big game – everyone was represented.  We saw spots from Chrysler, Ford, Chevy, Toyota, Hyundai, Honda, Audi, Volkswagen, Jeep, CarMax, and this year, Jaguar and Maserati joined the fray.
  • Two brands – Coca-Cola and Cheerios (a newcomer to the Super Bowl) – had spots that were much talked about leading up to the game.  Both choosing to feature “non-traditional” families that give a more realistic look at America today.
  • Celebrities were everywhere.  H&M featuring David Beckham was back for a second year, while Pistachios introduced a two-part ad starring Stephen Colbert.  Other celebrity spots included Tim Tebow (T-Mobile), the “Full House” men (Dannon Oikos), Bruce Willis (Honda), Ellen DeGeneres (Beats Music) and Scarlett Johansson (in a SodaStream spot that got a lot of pre-Super Bowl interest).
  • Nostalgia was another big theme this year.  RadioShack debuted a spot featuring many 80s icons and got the message across that Radio Shack has been reinvented.  Other brands chose to go the nostalgia route as well – Dannon Oikos with “Full House” and Toyota with “The Muppets.”

But on-air television spots don’t get all the attention last night.  It was never more evident than last night how big of a role Twitter plays during TV watching. Whether it was hashtags in every spot or real-time conversation by brands on Twitter, a night that has traditionally been the most watched television event of the year has also become a huge night for social media as well.  After Oreo’s brilliant real-time tweet during the 2013 Super Bowl, brands were clamoring to be the most talked about both last night and today. Most tried and failed, but there were some flashes of brightness through all the chatter.

  • Oreo went dark with this tweet: @Oreo Hey guys…enjoy the game tonight. We’re going dark. #OreoOut
  • Esurance used their TV spot to drive twitter conversation with the hashtag #EsuranceSave30.  The immediate flood of tweets proves people will engage if there’s incentive.  Now we’ll have to watch to see what it results in for Esurance.
  • Hillary Clinton even got into the game with her zing at Fox: @HillaryClinton It’s so much more fun to watch FOX when it’s someone else being blitzed & sacked! #SuperBowl (one of only 49 tweets from her account ever) She was retweeted more than 50,000 times and favorited approximately 35,000 times.
  • Tide and Newcastle Brown Ale decided that while they didn’t have spots in the game, they’d use the social space to comment on the spots that did air.  Proving that you don’t have to spend the high price tag to participate in the biggest night of marketing in America.
  • As commercials aired on the game, Tide contributed relevant brand messages like:
    • Adding a puppy to the family @Cheerios? Beware of puppy stains. @Tide #GetsItOut #SB48
    • Whoa, that’s a lot of self-tanner @GoDaddy Gonna need a lot of @Tide #GetsItOut #SB48
    • Just remember crazy nights can get crazy messy @budlight But don’t worry @Tide #GetsItOut #SB48 #UpForWhatever
  • Newcastle Brown Ale contributed with:
    • We didn’t make a Football Game Ad, but we feel 100% fine telling other brands how to make theirs. Watch tonight for more #IfWeMadeIt videos.
    • Hey @getcrackin’, your Ad was wonderful. Not that you asked, but here’s our MEGA HUGE version of your Ad. #IfWeMadeIt

Click here to see how opinions from a few Fahlgren Mortine associates differed.


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