The super bowl was more integrated with social media than ever this year. According to Twitter, a record 24.9 million tweets mentioning the super bowl in some way were sent out during the big game. It wasn’t just viewers being more social, so were advertisers. This year more than half of Super Bowl ads included some mention of social media, with most of those mentions being hashtags.

Oreo, super bowl, social media, marketing, SMO, digital marketing, twitterWhile we can’t know which ads impacted consumer buying activity the most yet, we can tell you which social media strategies took center stage, and are still being talked about today. This past Sunday, every social media marketer was trying to recreate what Oreo did in 2013. This perfectly timed tweet was the envy of every marketer hoping to use the Super Bowl as a springboard for free publicity.

This year, ads seemed to flow into three groups. First, posts meant to try and recreate the viral Oreo success by using the game as a building block. Second, posts that played off of television ads or other traditional marketing efforts in an attempt to create online engagement. Third, creative content that rose above the game and even encouraged brand-to-brand interaction.

Big Game Blowout

Marketing departments tasked with creating big game buzz try to control every potential variable. But there is one thing they can’t control: the outcome of the game. So, smart brands created content well ahead of time that would work in case of a blowout or a close game. This year’s Seattle Seahawks blowout gave way to humor for brands like DiGiorno and Buffalo Wild Wings.

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Between the two, they were able to collect more than 70,000 retweets and favorites. Neither company paid the four million dollars needed for 30 seconds of ad space, but by using social media they were able to use the Super Bowl as a channel for creating connections. Neither tweet would have worked if it wasn’t for strategic planning and imparting the brand’s voice into a joke about the blowout.

Teamwork on Display

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Integrated marketing is a tactic many big brands are using to try and create the most impact from each advertisement. With 30 seconds of air-time costing seven figures, marketers know that simply sitting back and hoping consumers react is a doomed strategy. Instead, they know that along with the ad they need to push supplement content out to target audiences.

The most successful of which by far has been Esurance and their #Esurancesave30 hashtag campaign. The online insurance company ran their ad right after the game ended, saving the company about $1.5 million. So, as part of its integrated marketing strategy, it said it would pass on that savings, $1.5 million, to someone on Twitter who sends out the company hashtag. It promoted the giveaway using a television ad, tweets from celebrities, promoted tweets and replies to news outlets that helped spread the word organically.

According to Esurance, the campaign has led to a billion impressions, two million entries and an 1,100% increase in Twitter followers. Voting ended Tuesday morning and the winner is going to be announced this Wednesday, meaning the entire promotion will only last a few days.

MVPs of Creative Content

This year, J.C. Penny, a retailer with no Super Bowl ad time is getting the most organic buzz due to its social media strategy. The retailer purposely tweeted out messages about the game with horrible misspellings and grammar that would make a preschooler blush. But, when the first two tweets came out no one knew it was on purpose.

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J.C. Penny may have been working off of the old theory that “any press is good press.” Those two tweets garnered more than double the amount of retweets and favorites as the Oreo tweet from 2013. Many of the replies questioned if the account had been hacked, or if the person working at J.C. Penny was drunk.

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Other brands saw the engagement and jumped in, creating their own replies to try and hijack the attention. At the end of the game, J.C. Penny revealed its timeline was really planned all along. Because the Super Bowl was played outside, the retailer was pretending to tweet using mittens. The strategy didn’t push any specific products or services, and didn’t include a call to action for potential customers, but it did succeed in getting a lot of attention for the brand with practically no cost. If impressions were the goal, it worked. According to researcher TweetReach, there were 131,000 mentions of J.C. Penny during the game, more than any other brand other than Esurance.

Penny Mittens

Post-Game Analysis

With dozens of ads and millions of tweets during the Super Bowl, trying to create one of the few social media hits that rise above the championship game is an uphill battle. But, when brands plan ahead, use humor and do something unexpected, they do have the ability to create a viral hit that’s talked about for days.

ZOG Digital is the leading independent digital marketing company. Our discovery marketing solutions include search engine optimization, social media marketing, paid advertising, and design and development. For more information, please visit or follow us on Twitter @ZOGDigital.

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