How Nissan dominated social TV during the Superbowl

By Natan Edelsburg Comment

The NFL season just kicked off and after last year’s social TV Superbowl, it’s hard to imagine that when the game comes around in 2013 we’ll see even more uses of social platforms and the second screen. The discussion around the Superbowl had to do with the endless second screen options and how major advertisers were using social to leak and build buzz around their million dollar spends on TV spots. Here’s the story of how a major brand used social during the Superbowl without spending a penny on a spot during the big game.

How Nissan’s investing in social TV:

Auto-maker Nissan continues to think about social TV in big ways. They launched GT Academy as a way to “take a racer, an online gamer, to go to a real racing school and become a real race car driver,” Erich Marx Director of Interactive & Social Media Marketing at Nissan North America told Lost Remote. Their competition that worked in tandem with Sony’s Gran Turismo game became so popular that it will also grow on TV. “This year I believe we’re partnering with Spike TV, it goes on TV in September, there’s a big social component to it where you can follow along on Facebook and Twitter and there will be interactive opportunities through the show, you can make comments and issue challenges,” Marx explained.

Why Nissan chose Twitter’s ad platform for the Superbowl:

“We are resourced and budgeted, just enough to have an impact,” Marx told Lost Remote “I wouldn’t say that it’s a core activity at this point – we try and pick and choose our spots,” he added. He described how they build a social TV strategy for the Superbowl built around everyone else’s TV spots. “For example, last year with the Superbowl – we did not have a buy, we did not have a Superbowl ad – we were able to go on YouTube to see all the ads… we were able to come up with humorous, clever responses to each of the ads, at the end of each of those responses, we’d attach one of our ads,” he described.

Using social to comment on Coca-Cola’s big ad spot:

“We new Coca-Cola would be running polar bar ads – if you remember the football is a bottled Coke, he juggles the Coke, almost drops it – we knew this 3-4 days in advance,” he explained about their planning. He described how they responded on social right after it aired. “It was a pretty cool commercial from Coke, but we like our polar bear commercial better,” he described how they then linked to one of their commercials with polar bears in real-time.

Piggy backing off of other Superbowl ads:

Nissan continued this strategy smartly throughout the game. “We used our existing assets and kind of piggy back off of the ads. Accura had the Jay Leno and Seinfeld vying to see who get the first Accura – it was a 60 second commercial,” he explained. He then described their real-time response. “‘Don’t worry Jerry, let Jay have the Accura, we think you’d probably like this car better,’ we attached the commercial for the Nissan GTR, we had a custom made response.”

How Nissan executed the real-time responses:

“We waited until the Superbowl spot ran and as soon as it ran, we would be the highest bidder on Twitter… when someone sees a commercial during the Superbowl they like they search for it to comment, they search #cocacolapolarbar or #seinfeldaccura,” he told Lost Remote. “They would be hit with a search result that would be Nissan, [for example] ‘don’t worry we think you’ll like this vehicle better’ – it was our way to have a presence for the Super Bowl without paying $3 million,” he added.

Some of the responses Nissan got on Twitter:

The proof of success was in the responses they received. What’s even more interesting than Nissan’s success is they’re proving that Twitter’s ad platform could also be a disruption to the TV ad business not just a compliment.