By Ryan McBurney
Feb 02, 2015

Six Marketing Takeaways from the Super Bowl

Whoa. Superbowl 49 had it all.

A legacy-bolstering franchise win. Big play after big play. Strong commercials across the board… for the most part. A Gronk spike. A touchdown by a receiver who quite possibly blacked-out for the entire night. Arguably the best halftime performance ever, achieved by an icon. Missy Elliot rocking like it's 2003. Dancing sharks. A field goal kicker from Middlebury College. A last-second game-defining play. Heck, even a huge scuffle broke out at the end.

... It was awesome.

I’m still reeling. I can only imagine how Seahawks and Patriots fans are feeling. Emotions ran higher than any Super Bowl in recent history, as portrayed by Richard Sherman’s hauntingly-beautiful reaction to Malcolm Butler’s game-winning interception. You can literally feel the emotional difference between victory and defeat.

And to Richard Sherman’s credit, he was a stand-up guy in defeat.

All of this resulted in a social media explosion – and Facebook and Twitter’s biggest Super Bowl to date. According to Facebook, there were 265 million posts, comments and likes related to the game. Twitter reported 28.4 million tweets.

These numbers are colossal. And, as I’m sure you can deduce, there’s a lot to evaluate from a marketing and advertising perspective. 

To help, I’ve gathered what I believe are the top six takeaways of the Super Bowl:

Tread lightly with serious ads. 

In case you missed it, here is one of Nationwide’s Super Bowl ads: 

Morbid. Really, really morbid. 

This ad was a risky approach that paid off from an analytical standpoint – it was the second most talked about ad of the Superbowl – but flopped big time anecdotally. 

According to Amobee, 64% of all comments about Nationwide were negative. Here were some of the responses:

I absolutely agree with the general consensus of “What the hell, Nationwide.” The message and topic was important, for sure, but I feel cheated. To me, Nationwide took a cheap shot.

Nationwide went for sensationalistic shock value at an inappropriate time – for financial gain. These types of advertisements needs to stop, or at the very least, they should be withheld from the Super Bowl spotlight.” 

On a night when people are hanging out, enjoying good food and watching the game with friends, running this type of ad is like running a Viagra commercial on Nickelodeon. Unless you’re an advocacy group or charity, your brand should keep it light or make it inspirational. Don’t exploit a sensitive, tragic subject for your own financial benefit

Why? Read this powerful reaction from a father who lost his daughter to cancer. 

There's nothing "2nd screen" about Mobile. Mobile is now part of the main event. 

My goodness. Almost every time I looked around at what my friends were doing, the majority of them were on their phones. Myself included. I was pretty much glued to Twitter all night. And this wasn’t unique to just my group of friends, this held true for, well, everyone:

(source: Adweek)

And McDonald’s capitalized on this perfectly. They were the most engaging brand of the Super Bowl thanks to a well-thought out and well-executed strategy of giving away every product advertised during the super bowl via social media.

I also thought Loctite Glue, yes the huge brand that is Loctite Glue, did a great job of using social media. 

Dare I say Loctite Glue was the Malcolm Butler of this year's Super Bowl advertisements? Or maybe even the Chris Matthews? I'm still confused about where Chris Matthews came from. My fiance guessed that the Seahawks stashed him away just for the Super Bowl. That would be some evil genius type stuff, Mr. Carroll. 

but back to Loctite.

Once their funky commercial aired...

... they immediately posted this tweet...

... and has since carried their momentum with strong Twitter game. 

Brands should let the game come to them.

Notice how Oreo and J.C. Penny – two real-time marketing veterans – stayed silent during this year’s super bowl. I’m guessing that both brands didn’t see an event during the Super Bowl that connected with their brand. And That’s fine. But I’m sure they were ready.

A handful of other brands, on the other hand, spent millions and millions of dollars this year trying to get their hashtag/commercial/video campaign to go viral during this year’s Super Bowl. 

Yet nothing really hit the viral threshold, except for... dancing sharks.

Dancing sharks?

Yes, dancing sharks. These dancing sharks. 

These dancing sharks pretty much took over the internet

And I think it offers a valuable lesson for brands.

Forcing something to go viral is extremely difficult and, well, pretty much impossible. Every commercial I saw seemed to have a hashtag that marketers were trying to push, which led to a massive #hashtagoverload. I mean, how are users supposed to remember all of those hashtags?

It’s like if the Bachelor was only one episode and the bachelor guy had to choose his wife based on a three hour get-drunk-and-chat-session. AM I RITE?

My suggestion for brands is to become more reactive. When done right, brands can make just as big of a social media splash by “hijacking” real-time trends than trying to create their own. 

As every basketball coach in the world would say, "let the game come you... don’t force it." 

While tastes between Men and Women differ, the best ads keep it light or inspirational... and include puppies. 

7,000 men and women participated in the annual USA Today Ad Meter. According to the survey, here are the top-five Super Bowl commercials among men and women: 


5. Doritos, “When Pigs Fly” — 6.50

4. Snickers, “Very Brady” — 6.57

3. Doritos, “Middle Seat” — 6.76

2. Fiat, “Blue Pill” — 6.82

1. Budweiser, “Lost Dog” — 7.66


5. Toyota, “My Bold Dad” — 6.89

4. Fiat, “Blue Pill” — 6.91

3. Microsoft, “Braylon” — 6.99

2. Always, “Like a Girl” — 7.67

1. Budweiser, “Lost Dog” — 8.50

Notice how all of these ads were light and/or inspirational. Hmm... 

Weave in your brand's story.

Monster got me. Monster got me real good.

At 10:07 on Sunday, minutes after the game ended, Monster posted this tweet.

I quickly scrolled past it. Glanced at it. Laughed at the awful mistake Monster’s social media team made at its attempt at real-time marketing. Took a Screenshot so I could include it in this blog post, and went about my business of eating cold corndogs with mustard. I believe the mustard was yellow, for those of you wondering. 

It wasn’t until the next morning that I gave the tweet a second look and finally noticed/read the small print at the bottom of the image.

My response was pretty much a long the lines of, “Ahhhhhh, nice.”   

Monster offered a witty spin, highlighting why people need their service and how they can help. To top it off, they tied it to the Superbowl. Great job on their part. This tweet led to 4,408 retweets and over 2,500 favorites.  

This is a perfect example of how social media marketing is best when it tells the story of a brand in a consistent manner, but also understands the context in which it is told. Shout out to Gary Vaynerchuk. 

Ray Finkle Lives!

Yes, that Ray Finkle. The guy wearing this jersey is pretty much my hero. 


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