Super Bowl Ads Go Social

The animated Eminem from Lipton Brisk's Super Bowl ad.

Going into the Super Bowl, we kept an eye out to see if social media tie-ins would play a prominent role in this Sunday’s ads. While discussion of the ads was high (the #brandbowl hashtag was up-to-the-minute), the clips themselves made little reference to the social media components attached to these pricey spots.

On one level, that’s not what these ads are for. The anticipation builds around how clever the ads will be, how the brand is presented, and whether something new will be added to the pantheon of Super Bowl advertising. And ad buyers acknowledged that YouTube, Facebook, and other social networks are important since so many ads were released wholly or in-part in the lead-up to the game.

But social media activity became most important once the ads ran and viewers took to Twitter to fire off their opinions of what they just saw.

Some of the ads did take advantage of a digital tie-in, even if it wasn’t glaring.

Angry Birds and the film Rio ran their ad with the secret code as discussed prior to the game. Volkswagen’s charming Darth Vader ad created as much hoopla online prior to the game as it did during it. For those masochists itching for more, GoDaddy’s abomination drove people to their website. And, though technically not part of the game, a Dockers ad that aired during the pre-game was all about a Facebook contest they’re having. However, since we seem to be the only outlet talking about it, perhaps that advertising money wasn’t so well-spent.

But by and large the advertisements were meant to stand on their own. Chatter during and after the game is where social media’s impact was felt.

“Rating highly in polls still does not hurt, of course. But social networks can tell CMOs more than the simple thumbs up/thumbs down conclusions of voting, since the ads become the subject of conversations rather than one-word responses,” writes Reuters.

“But at the end of the day you want to be part of the conversation — this is not just about running one spot on the Super Bowl. This is a business decision, so it means full integration,” adds E*Trade CMO Nick Utton.

And digs into some of the buzzworthy takeaways.

It’ll be interesting to see if this transforms Super Bowl advertising in the future. If one of the top goals of these ads going forward is to get social media attention, it may mean that they turn to digital experts on their teams and other teams, including PR, for insight on how to do that.