The most innovative ad from Super Bowl 48 didn’t happen on TV

Anna KendrickAs VW pointed out in its teaser ad, there seem to be a tried and tested formula for Super Bowl spots, which usually includes celebrities and/or animals, slapstick humour and very high production values. For the 48th edition of ‘the biggest show on Earth’ a lot of advertisers stuck to some variation of this creatively, which is understandable since a 30” spot on Fox can cost up to $4m. However, this year many more brands were thinking beyond airtime to tap into the cultural phenomenon that is the Super Bowl.

An online-first approach
More than half of all the Super Bowl commercials were placed online in advance of airing on TV this year. In fact for Newcastle Brown Ale (pictured, which gained nearly five million views on YouTube), the whole strategy was to gain organic reach without having to air during the Super Bowl itself. SodaStream also deliberately courted controversy, using a direct reference to Coke and Pepsi to get its ad banned before subsequently releasing the uncensored version on YouTube (now at more than nine million views) ahead of the event itself.

The biggest winner pre-kickoff was undoubtedly the Budweiser Puppy Love advert, which amassed more than 30 million views before it was aired. Budweiser also gave the puppy its own @BudweiserPuppy account, encouraging America’s dog owners to tweet their pics of their doggy ‘best buds’. In just a short period of time, the puppy amassed over 11,000 followers, a quarter the size of Bud’s main twitter account.

With tight restrictions on what is possible to do in an ad break in the US, most brands looked to create interaction via Twitter. Fifty-seven per cent of this year’s commercials featured a Twitter hashtag, up from 50% in 2013. Bud Light and Jaguar both ran a Shazam call-to-action (as well as URL and hashtag), but Instagram was most notable by its absence from the majority of brand strategies despite its position as the fastest growing app of 2013.

Brand interactions cause disruption
Twitter released figures this morning that show there were 24.9 million tweets around the Super Bowl this year with the key peaks all around moments in the game, and at the end of the half time show. Mentions of commercial brand hashtags very much made up a minority of Super Bowl buzz. Perhaps more interesting was some of the brand interactions on Twitter, and the humour and creativity displayed in real time.

US department store J.C. Penney (JCP) cleverly disrupted the twitterverse with its typo-filled tweets during the game, which attracted the attention of other brands like Coors Light, Kia and Snickers who humorously linked JCP’s apparent error to their own campaign message. Even Buzzfeed asked whether ‘@jcpenney was ok?’

JCP then revealed it was typing in mittens to promote its charity GoTeamUSA mittens.

TweetReach and Marketing Land reported this morning that there were 131,000 JCP-related tweets during the game, with their two typo-filled tweets getting 41,000 retweets. That’s 25,000 more than Oreo’s renowned ‘Dunk in the Dark’ activity last year, making JCP’s mittens the surprise social ‘moment’ of the Super Bowl.

Chrissy Totty is Head of Innovation, Vizeum UK.