How Portlandia’s Social Effort Pounced on Lame Super Bowl Game

Grew Twitter following by 25%

Headshot of Christopher Heine

Super Bowl XLVIII, a bona fide bore, improbably ended up being the most-viewed TV program in American history. But perhaps it was the perfect storm for social media marketing, as brands (even JC Penney) seemed to score points as effortlessly as the Seattle Seahawks' did in their blowout win.

Marketers for IFC's Portlandia seem to think so. The sketch comedy program, whose fourth season premieres on Feb. 27, cleverly asked a volunteer at Portland-based feminist bookstore In Other Words to tweet during the big game. The volunteer's name is Kim Meinert, and her goal was to achieve a similar humorous tone established by the show's stars, Fred Armisen and Carrie Brownstein, in their sketches that are set at a fictitious feminist bookstore called "Women & Women First." In Other Words' location is used to shoot the segments.

Before checking out how well Meinert did comically in real-time, let's dive into the results. Portlandia's Twitter account jumped from roughly 65,000 followers to 81,000, a 25 percent hike. In an effort that utilized the hashtag #FeministBookstoreSaysWhat and featured numerous tweets, it also garnered 8,000 retweets during the big game. 

Blake Callaway, svp of marketing for IFC, told Adweek that his company didn't buy Promoted Tweets or other social ads to push the appeal. His team did, however, post its intentions on Facebook the Friday before the Super Bowl to Portlandia's 600,000 fans. And it's worth noting that the show donated $1,200 to In Other Words, which is a nonprofit shop in Rose City.

"We were more than blown away by the results for our $1,200 investment," Callaway explained. "There was tweet after tweet of, 'It's such a boring game.' I was surprised that the game was the most-ever watched. I guess everyone wants this national campfire. We wanted to be a part of it and had to do it in a unique way because we are not spending money on a Super Bowl spot."

For Portlandia, IFC plans to turn over its Twitter account to In Other Words again for the Oscars on March 2. "We give them some guard rails in terms of staying away from controversial topics," Callaway said. "But really, we just handed it over" during Sunday's big game.

@Chris_Heine Christopher Heine is a New York-based editor and writer.