Super Bowl Television Ads: Online Integration & Brand Engagement

In recent years, it is obvious that the $3 million price tag of a 30-second Super Bowl spot can bring more benefits than the viewers watching the game. The pre- and post-game online buzz of the best and worst ads brings an extended shelf life and larger audience for the top ads each year.

So, are companies using that high dollar time to capitalize on extended brand engagement through online marketing?

In 2011, TopRank marketing blog gave Super Bowl advertisers a failing grade when it came to integrations into online interaction and social media. Was there any improvement in 2012?

What companies had the best online integration of their Super Bowl spot?

Online Video Views (Car Companies Ruled):*

  1. Jerry Seinfeld’s Acura NSX commercial – 17.7 million views. A big hit among the male crowd, the guys I watched the game with oohed and ahhed over the car when this spot came on.
  2. M&M’s “Sexy and I Know It” commercial – 17 million views. The only non-car brand in the top five, and the only top five video uploaded by a channel other than the brand.
  3. Honda’s Ferris Bueller’s Day Off commercial – 14.5 million views. With my circle of friends, this was the most pre-game buzzed about commercial, and maybe it is due to my age group being the generation for Ferris Bueller. But I had numerous friends share this video on Facebook the week prior to the game.
  4. Volkswagen’s The Bar Side commercial – 14.5 million views. With probably the most successful 2011 commercial, Volkswagen continued the momentum with a few popular ads this year.
  5. Volkswagen’s The Dog Strikes Back commercial – 10.8 million views

*Numbers based on views as of Feb. 13. Results from general search “2012 super bowl commercial” and only based on 1 video, not a combination of multiple uploads.

Real-Time Buzz:

According to Brand Bowl 2012, a and Mullen advertising agency report using Radian6, Doritos generated the most Twitter buzz during the game. Out of 400,000 tweets monitored by Brand Bowl, The Doritos “Man’s Best Friend” ad (showed early on in the game) was designated most effective brand based on volume and positive/negative chatter. M&M’s had the most positive sentiment tweets.

According to Google, the most searched terms during the game included: Madonna (which I admittedly searched to look up her age due to a debate among party goers), Halftime show, Patriots, Tom Brady and the Giants. The most popular commercial related searches were for:

  1. Acura
  2. GoDaddy
  3. M&M’s
  4. The Avengers movie trailer
  5. Chrysler’s Clint Eastwood spot

Also according to Google, top YouTube searches during the Game were:

  1. Bud light platinum commercial
  2. OKGo needing getting
  3. M&M commercial
  4. Doritos superbowl commercial
  5. David Beckham superbowl commercial

Lastly, another look at what drove Twitter conversations during the game, Simply Measured, reports:

  • David Beckham, Seinfeld/Leno and John Stamos as the top celebrity ads
  • Doritos was the top brand mention (matches Brand Bowl’s report above)
  • Automotive was the biggest buzzed industry, with Acura and Chevy leading the pack
  • Coke just beat out Pepsi by about 4,000 tweets

Online searches, Tweets and video views are all great, but most of these winning brands had little to do with their online success beyond making commercials worth talking about. So, which brands took their ads a step further and actually integrated them into online marketing efforts?

Some Stand-Outs:

Google Paid Search – Car Companies are a step ahead. After searching about a dozen of the top brands that ran spots during the game, car companies were the only ones running ads for their commercial searches on Google to capture traffic away from blogs and video sites. Stand outs were Chrysler with ads to both their website and YouTube page, Acura with a dedicated landing page and honorable mention to Samsung and Century 21 for running ads on YouTube. Granted, this is a week after the game, so some paid search campaigns may have ended.

Super Bowl AdWords


Mobile Interaction – Chevy Game Time mobile app and an Anheuser-Busch Budweiser app were the only non-sports brand driven apps I found from popular advertisers.
Game Time App

One new area of mobile integration, however, that stood out across a number of ads was the use of Shazam to bring you to mobile content without having to type anything into a browser.

Shazam App

Call-to-Action – Many companies fell short of strong online call-to-actions by simply posting a Twitter hashtag and hoping for discussion. Although I think this is the largest area for improvement, there are an increasing number of companies compelling people to visit their site or social account.

  • continues their sex-appeal teaser approach. However, their ads are not very popular across all audiences, and I needed to explain to people at the party what was after years of their ads running.
  • Bud Light, on the other end of the spectrum, had a more morally driven call-to-action to their Facebook page for The Animal Rescue Foundation.
  • Website Integration – Probably the biggest area of improvement in my opinion. Some brands worth mentioning, although there are others that can be added to the list:
    • Chevy Sonic’s interactive site
    • Best Buy’s new mobile site
    • The movie Battleship collected email and phone number for future engagement through a sweepstakes
    • Coca-Cola had a Polar Bowl site (the company exceeded goals for engagement) that led to the issue of the site being down throughout parts of the game due to the high volume of visitors. Unfortunately the site is no longer live for post-game engagement.

Overall, based on the blogs and articles I reviewed, online marketers like to criticize brands for their lack of integration of Super Bowl ads with the internet. But I think each year we have seen improvements, companies learning from mistakes and growing goals of engagement and interaction that goes beyond the 30 seconds their ad runs.

What were some of your favorite online-integrated Super Bowl ads?

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