The Social Super Bowl

There’s only three weeks of football left in the regular season – that means Super Bowl Sunday will be here before you know it. On February 1, 2015, millions of viewers will tune in to Super Bowl XLIX, not only for the big game, but also for the highly anticipated commercials. Companies shell out millions of dollars for these commercials to get exposure during one of the most watched sporting events on television. Last year, Super Bowl viewership in the United States climbed to 111.5 million from 108.4 million in 2013.

Social media plays a significant role in consumer engagement for companies during the Super Bowl. In 2014, viewers wrote 583,152 Tweets and 650,757 Facebook posts about the Super Bowl ads. This use of social media, however, does not only occur during the game. Preparations begin long before game time, from both an operations and marketing standpoint. The companies below have been preparing for their 2015 Super Bowl commercial debuts and are generating plenty of social buzz.


Social media presence for the Super Bowl is so important to Anheuser-Busch that it is planning to operate four social media command centers around the country. The centers will be staffed with representatives from Bud Light, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and the company’s creative agencies and marketing developers, all of whom will be ready to create real-time, improvised content before, during, and after the game.

The company has recently practiced its quick response to social chatter when it was reported that the famous Clydesdales would not be appearing during the upcoming Super Bowl. Anheuser-Busch cleared that rumor up, confirming that they will, in fact, return. Here is a Clydesdale in last year’s Budweiser ad, “Puppy Love,” which was the most shared video online and ranked number one on USA Today’s Super Bowl Ad Meter 2014. I’m hoping the story continues this year with the pup all grown up! #stillbestbuds


For the ninth consecutive year, Doritos is promoting its “Crash the Super Bowl” commercial competition, in which consumers create and submit their own 30-second Doritos brand commercial. The grand-prize winner, selected from the top five finalists by voters’ choice, wins air time during the Super Bowl, the opportunity to work on a special project with Universal Studios, and $1 million. Social media is the driver of this competition, as the video creators rely on sharing their submission to generate views, ratings, and votes. Doritos has been promoting this competition constantly on all of its social media channels using the hashtag #CrashTheSuperBowl to facilitate the conversation.

My friend and her husband actually submitted their commercial and are now one of 29 submissions in the semi-finals. Please share their video below to help get them to the finals! (My friend is the red-head on the beach).


GoDaddy is switching gears with its commercial this year, opting for adorable instead of scandalous. Its ad will feature the cuddly golden retriever puppy below (just look at that face!) alongside Danica Patrick. To get its consumers involved, the company is asking the social community to submit names for the little guy using the hashtag #GoDaddyPuppy. Once his name is chosen, he will be given his own Twitter handle.

Similar to Anheuser-Busch, GoDaddy will also set up a social media command center to respond to chatter throughout the game.


As you can see from the examples above, the use of hashtags in these Super Bowl advertisement promotions is prevalent. During the previous Super Bowl, 31 of the 54 national ads that ran between kick-off and the end of the game included hashtags. This was a 50 percent increase from 2013. Most of the time, hashtags were not associated with any type of social media since they are now supported on all major social networks. Hashtags are an effective way for companies to generate conversations about their commercials and products, keep track of them, and help to measure their advertising and consumer engagement success.

hashtagIt will be interesting to see the type of social content other companies push out closer to the game, how quickly and cleverly they react and respond to events in real-time, and how they interact with their consumers.

With that being said… LET’S GO PATS!


  1. Great post Kate! I love watching the Super Bowl and the hype surrounding the commercials. Social media has certainly added an interesting twist to brand’s advertising strategy. I think it is such a genius idea for Doritos to outsource their commercial to fans. Doritos fanatics know best what will resonate with other consumers and I truly think their commercials are always some of the funniest because they relinquish a little control over the message. Loved your friend’s submission by the way, I hope to see it during the game! On the other hand, GoDaddy’s strategy has always perplexed me. From creating a scandalous buzz to now turning to puppies, I’m really not sure what they are going for. Needless to say, they certainly know how to get people talking about their advertisements. I am really curious to know how strategic or random their planning is.

    Social media has truly changed the way companies prepare for a big event like the super bowl. With command centers to respond to things in real-time, and hashtags that centralize a conversation around the promotion, company’s have certainly had to adapt. Thanks for sharing!

  2. Great post. We’ve all read about the “second-screen” phenomenon, and I think the Super Bowl is when this is showcased in all it’s glory. It’s the most exciting game of the year, but everyone is still glued to their phones throughout the telecast. It’s really amazing to me how social media, mainly Twitter, has shifted the way I watch sports. I want opinions from angles, whether it’s other players, broadcasters, writers, and even my friends. I want to hear the clever off the cuff jokes about Peyton Manning’s thousandth commercial, and just watching the game feels like I’m missing out on the bigger conversation. Just typing this I’m realizing that there are plenty of games where I watch Twitter with the NFL on in the background. The use of the #hashtag in commercials has been a great way for brands to lead the conversation about their product. If they’re gonna tweet during every commercial, at least have em tweeting about our new Doritos campaign. Regardless, great post. And yes, yes of course: Go Pats.

  3. meganmorgan9 · ·

    Really enjoyed the post Kate! I won’t lie my favorite part of the superbowl is no doubt the half time show and commercials. (What can I say, my home team Vikings will never get there). With all this pressure to have an amazing ad social media either magnifies the greatness or shoots it down. This is one event that the use of Twitter is huge. In fact for any big event, Twitter is the go to to quickly share your immediate thoughts throughout the whole event. I agree with Michael that it is amazing how Twitter has changed sports. If I want to see what is going on in a game I immediately turn to Twitter and no other platform to get the news. On another note, I really like the Doritos idea of instigating a contest. Huge incentives for people to put forward their best work. Additionally even though only one ad wins, Doritos can use all the submissions for further ad ideas. This is a really great idea on their part though some risk is involved when they themselves are not involved in the concept. Great post and thanks for sharing!

  4. Great post, Kate! It’s crazy to realize how one single event can so dramatically increase the required scale of social media efforts for brands (i.e. Anheuser-Busch’s four SM command centers). People have always excitedly anticipated the commercial and marketing efforts brands plan for Super Bowl Sunday, but social media has certainly multiplied that sense of anticipation for consumers. Brands can now hype up their plans starting months before game day via SM, as well as use the opportunity to provoke consumer engagement with fun contests and crowdsourcing of ideas. I think social media has really pushed the audience of Super Bowl Sunday by getting even non-football-lovers so excited about the event that they look forward to tuning in and seeing brands’ marketing efforts come to fruition.

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