14 PR and Social Media Winners from Super Bowl XLVIII

superbowl2That was a boring Super Bowl in every way. Not only was the game itself a blowout, but most of the ads were lackluster and no brand recreated Oreo’s breakout success on social.

Still, a few companies and personalities did manage some clever nuggets, which we will now review.

1. J.C. Penney

We personally found the “tweeting with mittens” stunt ridiculous: it looked a lot like a dying company’s desperate attempt at relevance.

Did the “are they drunk or did they get hacked?” conversation inspire anyone to plan a trip to the nearest J.C. Penney? We doubt it.

But we include it at the top of this list because attention=success on social, and this stunt did get people talking more than any other during the first half.

2. Kohl’s

The success of the J.C. Penney stunt may be up for debate, but the best response clearly came from Kohl’s.

Here’s where that link leads:

Screen Shot 2014-02-03 at 12.58.18 PM

That was quick.

3. Radio Shack

The chain’s 80’s nostalgia spot stood out not only for its collection of outdated stars but also for the company’s willingness to laugh itself as a brand less relevant than Hulk Hogan. We also liked the Twitter tie-in 80’s giveaway, with a corresponding hashtag for each item; this old-school Pac Man console was particularly cool.

The company’s stock apparently surged after the campaign as well, so there you go.

4. Doritos:

The commercials were pretty good, but the “human Dorito photobomb” was undoubtedly the game’s most memorable in-person stunt.

The image speaks for itself, but the brand also released a “how we did it” video that’s worth a glance.

5. Oreo

360i and Oreo took the high road this year by sitting the game out—and they looked all the better for it.

It was less a case of a brand resting on its laurels than a challenge: “We’re gonna let all you other guys try to beat us this year. SPOILER: you won’t be able to do it.”

6. McDonald’s

This campaign didn’t get quite as much attention as some others last night because its stop-motion videos recreating key moments in the game were only pushed out by its New York-area Twitter and Instagram feeds.

Still, it’s a textbook case of real-time marketing in action whether you care for the clips or not.

7. Cheerios

Coke and Cheerios have something in common: they both received pushback from certain stuck-in-their-ways Americans who don’t much care for multi-racial or international casting.

The team explains a bit more in this “behind the scenes” spot:

General Mills’ decision to continue with its message despite the racists on YouTube was a pretty good example of a brand sticking to principle.

8. DiGiorno

This one’s debatable: the Super Bowl tweets were hit or miss, and they weren’t nearly as impressive as the out-of-nowhere Sound of Music stunt. But they did reaffirm DiGiorno’s new “frozen pizza with attitude” identity.

Come on, that one was pretty good.

9. Tide

Tide’s satirical “respond to every commercial” Vine campaign was genius; opinions differ on whether the clips were funny enough, but we give them props for a great idea.

10. Esurance

Some have claimed that this campaign wasn’t as successful as it could have been due to Twitter users hijacking the #EsuranceSave30 tag and adding it to unrelated and offensive tweets.

You know what, though? Some jackass will always hijack your hashtag. This one got a whole lot of attention because everybody likes free money and it played into the OCD “refresh, refresh, refresh” nature of Twitter itself, so we’ll call it a win.

Just a reminder: last night’s winners weren’t all brands. Here are a few others we liked.

11. HuffPo Canada

Lots of people tried to riff on Joe Namath‘s famously ridiculous mink coat by comparing him to a certain monkey, but this photo montage from HuffPo Canada brought it all together:

12. Patrick Stewart

…and for no real reason at all, here’s our favorite starship captain. We were fortunate enough to see him on Broadway with Ian McKellan recently and we’re big fans of pretty much everything he does.

13. Hillary Clinton

Yeah, you already heard about this one. But check out those numbers.

And it was a pretty good joke.

14. Jerry Seinfeld and Jason Alexander

As longtime Seinfeld lovers, we’re a little biased here. We didn’t add this spot to the end of the list because it was so funny (it really wasn’t) but because it made us nostalgic and reminded us that Tina Fey stars in the most recent “Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee”, which we will make sure to watch at some point this week.

So yes, the game was dull and the ads left a bit to be desired. But some brands’ teams still did a good job last night.

Let us know what we missed or what we got wrong.

[Pic via the NFL. Don’t sue.]

@PatrickCoffee patrick.coffee@adweek.com Patrick Coffee is a senior editor for Adweek.