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Top Marketing Strategies of Super Bowl 2015

Super Bowl Recap

Now that one of the best Super Bowls has come to an end, it’s time to analyze if the millions spent by marketers this year on commercials, social media campaigns, and ad agency “war rooms” were worth it. We used our Market Intelligence tool to track brand marketing campaigns before, during, and right after the Super Bowl, and today we’ll be recapping the top-performing strategies. Let’s jump right into the various approaches.

The Underdog:  Gluemaker Loctite went all in for the Big Game: they spent their entire annual marketing budget just to buy a 30-second spot. The risk paid off and they got what they were looking for—that is, get people talking about their brand. Definitely the underdog, Loctite had almost 20K mentions on Twitter and gained more than 3000 followers during the Super Bowl, a 100% increase on both social media channels. Next time you buy glue you’re not going to miss Loctite. All I can say is nerd is in and #WinAtGlue.

Back in the Game: The winner in this category has to be Discover Card, which decided to promote their brand at the Super Bowl for the first time in 30 years. Their commercial was funny and informative and appealed to millennials. In two days (February 1-2), they gained over 10,000 followers on their Facebook page and over 1500 followers on Twitter. This was 200% higher than their average weekly Facebook and Twitter growth. “Surprise” was definitely a perfect title for Discover’s commercial since they didn’t pre-release the ad and the performance results were a pleasant surprise. $4.5M well spent.

Old is Gold: BMW decided to take us down memory lane this year. The brand pre-released their commercial and became the talk of the town. The “then and now” theme with a little tribute to the early years of the internet was a crowd favorite. Using Katie Couric and Bryant Gumbel appealed to a wide range of audience members.

The average subscriber growth for BMW for all their active social media platforms—Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube—was between 300 and 500 per day with a jump to 550-600 on January 26, the day the commercial was released. Though the growth in followers wasn’t high, BMW’s video achieved great momentum on YouTube with over 14M views. In addition, according to industry experts, once the ad aired, shopping sites like and saw amazing activity and visits

Emotional Quotient: This year, emotional topics that touched our hearts were recurring themes in Super Bowl ads. Now whether viewers wanted a lump in their throat or tears in their eyes while watching a football game was debatable, but the exposure each brand built was undeniable. For instance, McDonald’s used a simple advertisement about paying for your meal with “Lovin’” by calling your loved ones. The fast food chain killed two birds with one stone—Super Bowl and Valentine’s Day—by randomly selecting customers to receive a free meal through February 14. Another brand, Dove Men+Care, had the word “dad” resonating throughout a video that portrayed fathers with their children.

There were a few other brands that pulled at heartstrings, but one of the best uses of resources and repackaging came from Always, with their #LikeAGirl campaign. Now while other advertisers worked hard to come up with new creative, Always decided to promote their commercial that already went viral in June 2014. The brand came out with their head held high: it had over 337K mentions on Twitter during and after the Super Bowl, and currently has over  than 55M views on YouTube. Always also gained more than 10K Facebook followers in just a week. Girl Power at its best. 

What’s better than ‘free’?: Instead of spending $4.5M for a 30 second commercial, Volvo decided to give out five cars instead. It was cheaper than competing with the almost 10 other car companies that reserved spots in the Super Bowl. Volvo’s strategy? Every time people saw a car commercial, they had to tweet out #VolvoInterception and mention who they would gift it to and why they deserved to be in the running. Talk about hitting a bull’s eye by using emotions and offering giveaways.

Though Volvo received attention for their campaign—their YouTube video generated 1M views—the brand didn’t make it into the list of marketers with the most tweets. The brand could have benefited from multi-channel marketing by investing more in YouTube ads, print, or even a commercial running on regular cable networks a few days before the game to gain more traction. 

Real-time Marketing: Remember the viral tweet from Oreo when the power went out at the Super Bowl in 2013? That’s what we call being in the right place at the right time. There were some similar attempts this year as well. Many marketers, including the ones without an ad spot in the Game, were tweeting, with some poking fun at other brands. Below are the most-tweeted posts.

Friendly rivalry

Halftime fun

So, these were a few of the top trending marketers of this year’s big game. Now onto the two marketers that gained publicity…but not in the best way (or is it true that any publicity is good publicity?). Let’s review how Nationwide Insurance and GoDaddy performed.

Nationwide Insurance: If you haven’t seen this commercial yet, you might want to take a look. This is an example of good intention gone wrong. Nationwide Insurance wanted to send astrong message about preventable injuries and got some heat, most notably in the online world, for their ad portraying a dead kid.

Nationwide lightened things up with another commercial featuring Mindy Kaling and Matt Damon that was very well-received. So despite all the haters, the brand’s Twitter followers increased by 4500 and Facebook by 10K. Let’s just say they lost but still won.

GoDaddy: GoDaddy pre-released their commercial on January 26, when some other marketers also unrolled ads, and did the unthinkable: they sold our favorite puppy on a website. It’s clear their marketing team was spoofing Budweiser’s popular puppy commercial, but as soon as there were negative reactions they removed the ad from the Super Bowl and their hosted sites.

GoDaddy played it safe with an alternate ad. Their Facebook followers definitely increased but it didn’t show any fluctuations in their average monthly increase with 300 users per day only. As for their Twitter account, that didn’t show much of a jump either, with a gain of approximately 500 followers. GoDaddy unfortunately disappointed us this year.

So, here are my analyses for Super Bowl XLIX. For the most part, marketers went the safe route to avoid controversies and to instead stir up positive emotions during the game. I’m hoping next year marketers come up with some more creative contests like Volvo’s and promote them well across marketing channels. Also, since this year emotional quotient was high, let’s see if humor makes a comeback in 2016. 

Author Bio

Intelligence Products Team

Our Intelligence Products team helps transform brands into true insights driven businesses by linking insights and continuous learning, empowering them to make better, smarter, and faster decisions. The team shares their insights and observations in a number of thought leadership resources including whitepapers, on-demand webinars, and Ask The Expert series of Q&As. Be sure to visit our resource page to get the latest best practices and use cases from the team.