With the confetti still streaming down in Philadelphia from the Eagles exciting win over the New England Patriots in Super Bowl 52, now is a good time to take a look back at how some companies used the big game to market their products and services.
The Super Bowl offers multiple branding opportunities, but only if companies are savvy and take the road less traveled. It’s not enough to offer some kind of promotion or discount, because audiences crave imagination, cleverness, and campaigns that aren’t on the nose.
That’s why we’re taking a look at some Super Bowl social media campaigns of the past five years – including this year – to highlight the qualities that made them so effective.
In 2016, the wildly successful Airbnb was battered by controversy as hundreds of guests began complaining of blatant discrimination by hosts throughout the world.
Instead of trying to issue reassurances on social media and through email marketing, Airbnb chose to mount a social media campaign that addressed the issue in a bold and creative way.
The company’s #WeAccept campaign launched during Super Bowl 51 and featured a series of beautiful images of men and women of every color, creed and religion, with these words flashing on the screen:
“No matter who you are where you’re from, who you love or who you worship, we all belong. The world is more beautiful the more you accept.”
The final image was the hashtag #WeAccept.
In 30 seconds, the company declared its values and culture and condemned discrimination in the most positive way possible.
But it also allowed Airbnb to showcase its reason for existence in a powerful way, because the campaign also communicated the company’s commitment to providing temporary, free housing to people displaced by war and conflict.
The takeaway? You don’t have to be responding to a controversy to use the Super Bowl as a showcase for the ‘why’ of your company as opposed to the ‘what’ of your company.
Notice Airbnb didn’t sell its services in this campaign, but focused on the human side of what made the company different.
Pizza Hut #HutHutHut
Pizza Hut is a big brand, but they still implement small-business methods to generate interest in their social media campaigns.
Their Super Bowl 47 ‘Hut Hut Hut’ campaign was a contest in which Pizza Hut asked fans to post videos of themselves saying the words ‘Hut, hut, hut,’ which is a common way that a quarterback signals his center to snap the football.
Notice, however, that the word ‘hut’ was also a nice spin on the company’s name, which didn’t hurt branding.
The winners of the contest were then placed in a Pizza Hut ad that ran during the Super Bowl.
This campaign is a perfect example of user-generated content that creates engagement and audience interaction.
People who post user-generated content are much more likely to share it with friends, which generates more attention for the brand.
But more importantly, involving your audience in a campaign makes them feel empowered and connected to your company in a way that can’t be beat.
When your audience feels validated because you solicited their input, it deepens trust and loyalty.
As you think about your next Super Bowl social media campaign, focus on how you can involve your audience in a way that is creative, fun and engaging.
Contests are a good way to build goodwill, because they almost guarantee that participants will share their entries with othersas they go after whatever prize you’re offering.
Febreze went all-in on its Super Bowl 52 social media campaign by creating a memorable and funny hashtag that was tied into a bodily function everyone does but doesn’t like to talk about.
The #BleepDontStink campaign starred Dave, an everyman with the uncanny ability to do a number 2 that has no odor.
Febreze launched the 60-second mockumentary on YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
The mockumentary included interviews with Dave’s mom and dad, his old coach and a doctor who commented on his odorless number 2s.
But the clincher was the end of the spot, which reminded viewers that Dave would not be a guest at their Super Bowl party, but everyone else whose bleep did stink would be at the party, which meant that the only way to keep their bathrooms smelling clean was to use Febreze.
The campaign was effective because Febreze used a clever method (mockumentary) and tied in the Super Bowl by focusing on parties involving the big game, and the need for hosts to keep their bathroom as fresh as possible.
Instead of offending with its subject matter, Febreze generated positive impressions on social media – especially Twitter – by encouraging its audience to start a conversation using the hashtag #BleepDontStink.
The takeaway is that you must find humorous ways to link your product or service to the Super Bowl in a way that isn’t expected.
Humor works even if your company isn’t talking about something delicate like the smell of a bathroom, because it puts your audience at ease, makes them feel comfortable, and gives you the leeway to be sales-y without turning off your audience.
Sell the Experience Instead of the Product Or Service
The best Super Bowl social media campaigns focus more on the ‘why’ of a company as opposed to the ‘what,’ and in doing so, they create engagement, build loyalty and increase brand awareness. Used correctly, the Super Bowl offers powerful marketing opportunities that you can implement not just on that big day, but throughout the year as well.