You'll Never Guess Who Won the Super Bowl Ad Social Amplification Match

…probably because you weren’t thinking about it. But here at FleishmanHillard, we are often tasked with amplifying adverts on social media. It’s a common brief, from the days of writing and issuing a press release about a new ad, to the more current complications around live tweeting, creating content and building online buzz. It’s just one of the reasons why we have developed Black Box, a tool that drives real-time insight that can drive social conversation for our clients about both here and across the pond.

It’s now the day after the night before. As we Brits don’t really understand American Football (it’s basically rugby, right?), the best way we thought to get involved is to analyse the ads, looking at who amplified their efforts best on social media and deliver you a list of the ads that won for various reasons that we think are important when it comes to ad amplification on social media.

Best mockery of online behaviour

WINNER: Carmax

What works on the internet is similar to what works on TV: emotional calls usually trump rational ones when sharing, and so you’ve got to play with humour, shock or fear. If that fails, try puppies. It’s what Carmax did, sending out a ‘Puppy Version’ of their TV advert. The ad is exactly the same as the version that starred humans, but with puppies. (Did I mention puppies?)

Indeed a number of brands including Volkswagen and Squarespace made light of internet behaviour in their ads, but Carmax won it because they made a superb rendition of their advert and they went against that old adage of “never work with children and pets”. Watch CarMax’s Puppy Version. Some people may be argue here that Budweiser’s #BestBuds should win here, but keep on reading…

Best viewer interaction


H&M won this year with and the #covered vs. #uncovered call-to-action. Sadly the microsite has now been taken down, but the mechanic was simple. Did you want to see the #covered version of the advert in which the football star keeps his trunks on, or the #uncovered version in which he implicitly has them ripped off as he passes back into the studio he has just been locked out of accidentally? Many people in the office argued it was a no-brainer…

Across the 48 hours of the Super Bowl weekend we saw 22,479 comments for #uncovered and 22,103 for #covered so it really was a close call in the end. It’s also worth noting that the real spike in tweets came over the weekend; during the week build up levels were low at approximately 2,000 comments seen on each hashtag, but nonetheless the added celebrity might of Mr Beckham got people interacting with the ad before it aired.

Best use of video seeding

WINNER: Budweiser’s #BestBuds

Whilst H&M had the best interactive build-up, Budweiser’s #BestBuds trumped it by far. You’ve got the killer idea that will appeal to the Internet and you’re working towards a live date. All systems go, right?

Wrong. It’s more and more common for brands to pre-empt their live ad airings by publishing their ads on YouTube well in advance. Most people love that smug feeling that they’ve seen something before, it not only provides bragging rights, but it also increases the amount of exposure they have to your brand, which according to Mark Changizi of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, is a good thing. As mentioned earlier, puppies spread quickly on the web (not as quickly as cats we believe), so the ad was destined for virality:

This ad got shared because it featured a puppy (works on the internet), an unlikely love story (also works on the internet) and was a sneak peak of the full ad before the airing date. Carmax didn’t win here because the Puppy Version wasn’t used on air.

Of course it helps that for marketers, winning the Super Bowl ad war is similar to winning the Christmas ad war in the UK. There are so many eyes on the event so you’re tapping into an usually high level of buzz, which celebrities such as Kelly Clarkson and Arianna Huffington commenting to their millions of fans about the ad.

Not all brands are graced with a spot during the Super Bowl, and Newcastle Brown was one of them. However the series of videos they created over at are really inspired. Hijacking is no new thing in marketing, and it has finally made its way to social media ad amplification and this year Newcastle Brown Ale came up trumps in that department.

Best planned social content

WINNER: Bud Light’s #UpForWhatever

Oreo made it clear last year that they planned, planned and planned some more for *that* Blackout tweet so I’m not going to wax lyrical about the phases of planning and execution. It’s just a given for any social media campaign. All that timing and planning that goes into creating the advert should also be put into creating the social amplification around it. From setting up the right keyword tracking terms to having a team of people present to catch the commentary as it happens, making sure you’re ready for the big event with a load of additional content is key.

JC Penney came close with it’s tweeting whilst wearing mittens mini-stunt. It appeared that the brand was tweeting drunk during the match, but actually they were just promoting the fact that the store now sells the latest in hand knitwear. Clever and simple.

But really Bud Light won this with #UpForWhatever. According to VP of Bud Light Rob McCarthy, the campaign was “born out of spending time with millennial beer drinkers” – i.e. the people who gave birth to the terms YOLO and FOMO. It’s a long advert, and the actor in it thought he was taking part in a focus group, but the result is great to see. What’s more, Bud Light has created a raft of content on its Twitter feed, Vine channel and Facebook page, all of which supplement the ad with the genius of short quotes from Arnold Schwarzenegger.

It’s clear to see that being as planned as possible can lead to fantastic results. Whilst the term “real-time content marketing” gets banded around a lot, these four examples certainly scored touch downs (that is the right term, right?) last night.

Do you agree? You can catch the rest of the ads here.