Social Lessons Learned on Super Bowl Sunday

Every year the hype surrounding the Super Bowl isn’t limited to the teams playing, but rather the companies vying for a 30 second spot that could set the tone for the rest of the year.

A lot has happened since last year’s ads ran, most notably the rise and domination of social media. Social sites have changed the way we look at brand interaction and marketing.

Traditional media is embracing the change slowly, but let’s see how the ads measured up this year and what lessons can be learned.

Facebook Wins

The social site most popular in this year’s ads was Facebook, and for good reason. As far as brand effectiveness goes, Facebook ranks number one, according to Brand Keys’ Customer Loyalty Index results out earlier this week. YouTube and Twitter were runners up, with some brands tempting fans with previews of what was to come before the big day.

Who scored top honors and who had a less than favorable affect?


Volkswagen certainly gets best in class for their display of social forethought before the Super Bowl. We’ve all seen it, the adorable little boy and his quest to use “The Force” on the washing machine, the friendly Golden Lab, and of course to start his father’s 2012 VW Passat.

Active online users got a preview before Sunday on VW’s social profiles across multiple platforms. Score for them, 16+ million views later, a much talked and written about news story come Monday morning.

Sure, the folks at VW should have drawn fans to Facebook by adding information about being found on the social giant or asked fans to watch the commercial on YouTube, but they get special accolades for their foresight. Notable mentions with similar tactics include Doritos and Pepsi Max.

What can we learn? Keep your social efforts consistent and have the forethought to reach out to your fans to get them talking before the “big show” — whatever that might be.


Two more car dealers were successful on Sunday, Audi and Mercedes, both announcing Twitter contests — Mercedes’ with a Facebook spin as well. While some may argue that the messaging and call to actions weren’t as clear as they could be, it’s worthwhile to note that these large brands are embracing the social trend and attempting to engage with their fans and followers in a whole new way.

What can we learn? Contests are still a good tactic to engage with fans. If you’re going to try out a contest make sure your promotion efforts are across multiple platforms and incorporated into both traditional and digital marketing.


Adding social icons to branded commercials is always a good idea but some brands have still yet to integrate them into their ads. Budweiser mentioned their Facebook page on one commercial but not the other and with no clear call to action. Suzuki attempted to drive traffic to their site, CarMax added Twitter and Facebook icons to their commercial, and E-Trade had YouTube and Facebook icons.

What can we learn? At the very least, using social media icons in your traditional media efforts can prompt the socially educated to search for you on the social platform of their choice. A better option is to have a call to action when adding social icons to your traditional messaging. Give viewers a reason to like, follow, or subscribe.


The most socially mentioned Super Bowl commercial came from Chrysler, according to Trendrr. Their innovative concept to use a well-known Detroit celebrity, Eminem, proved more successful than other brands using celebs — Sketchers’ Kim Kardashian commercial didn’t fare as well.

While users were talking about the Chrysler commercial on the social web, Chrysler could have optimized their efforts by giving their Twitter handle or Facebook URL so users could have tagged them when talking about their brand.

What can we learn? Sometimes, even if you don’t have a call to action to engage social users they’ll find you and talk about you. But why make them do the research? Add the info and save them the trouble.


In the end, quite a few brands scored low on the social scale this Sunday. Best Buy, Bridgestone, Chevy,, Groupon, and BMW lacked social efforts all around. Best Buy is surprisingly on the list, when in the recent past their brand has made it a point to become more socially aware.

What we can learn? Streamlining your efforts is increasingly important. Merge traditional and digital. If your brand culture is social stay consistent throughout each medium you use to include them.

All in all, I was mildly impressed with social integration in the Super Bowl ads. Using social media to round out your brand marketing efforts has multifaceted benefits, and it’s good to see that some big brands are realizing the importance in streamlining their efforts.

  • Consumer research
  • Publicity
  • Engagement
  • Build relationships
  • Conversions

Which brand did you think was most effective in utilizing social media during their Super Bowl commercial?

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