Super Bowl – Which brands truly created engagement?

hollerlab —  February 23, 2012 — Leave a comment


The Holy Grail for many advertisers across the US is the Super Bowl, with some advertisers dedicating up to 25% of their entire yearly budgets to the franchise. Companies dedicate enormous budgets to connect with consumers across North America and many of those executions have ripple affects across the world. The Old Spice, ‘The Man Your Man Could Smell Like’ campaign comes immediately to mind. 

Even though the focus is on this largely American asset. There are phenomenal lessons that we here in Australia can take from some of the executions and trends emerging from Super Bowl advertising. 

A key point we identified this year was the importance for advertisers to extend conversations with consumers by connecting ATL and digital experiences through the use of multiple screens. For brands, to truly generate the ROI needed to justify their huge media and production spends have to create depth, narrative and social equity in their creative executions. 

During the Super Bowl there are many brands vying for a share of voice. Brands are trying to be entertaining and translate a captivated audience into a highly engaged and educated one. It is not just about the amount of people seeing these ads it is about many people can a brand connect with over the most extended period, whilst creating truly valuable and meaningful brand experiences. 

Most brands recognise that in a hyper-connected world that the only way to truly achieve this is by leveraging multiple platforms, devices and touch points. Two ways that during the Super Bowl advertisers captivated audiences over and above their TVCs was:

Consumer contribution: 

Create compelling reasons for consumers to engage with, contribute and influence a brands participation in the Super Bowl. In essence using second screens to create interest and engagement in the lead up to the event. Preferably culminating in an experience on two screens during the event. 

Synchronicity in ATL and Digital: 

By creating a link between a consumers viewing of the Super Bowl to your brand through either a platform or piece of content that runs over a second screen throughout the event. 




One of the easiest ways to link ATL and digital experiences is by using Shazam. Unfortunately incorporating sound recognition into a 30-second TVC is somewhat like putting a QR code on the side of a bus. Once someone is compelled enough to respond to the call to action it is gone. We would suggest that employing Shazam as a DR tool in anything under a 1-minute TVC should be avoided

This year’s Super Bowl though was truly a chance for Shazam to demonstrate its prowess in advertising and highlight its dominance in this space. With 160 million downloads of the app globally many advertisers relied on the technology to generate a further layer of depth to their advertising. Creating a level of engagement beyond the passive experience of TV. 

Up to one third of all ads that aired this year were Shazam-able. With many brands enticing users with discounts and competitions. Toyota offered up two cars to be won, one to a tagger and one to their friend. Best Buy offered a $50 gift card to qualified mobile phone leads, donated $1 to charity every time their ad was tagged, Pepsi allowed people to unlock a free video and Teleflora built a ‘secret offer’ into it’s commercial.


We will look at both Chevy and Coca Cola and they both created a depth of conversation with consumers that far surpassed that of other brand activities this year. As such they have first mover advantage and a raft of learnings that they can take into next years activity. 

Chevrolet – Chevy Runs Deep


Firstly, Chevrolet has come on in leaps and bounds from where they once were as advertisers. This year they innovated the way that they connected with consumers surrounding their executions at the Super Bowl before, during and after the broadcast. Chevy wanted to extend their conversation with consumers and have touch points at almost every stage of the preparation to their Super Bowl advertising. 


The first execution was called Route 66. In this section of the campaign they made a call out to budding film makers and asked them to submit ideas about what they would shoot if they had to make either a 30-second or 1-minute Super Bowl advertisement. Learning their mistake in relation to the Chevy Tahoe UGC competition (seriously Google it). Chevy took submissions behind a curtain and then selected 30 of the entries to be shortlisted and made using a limited budget. 

They wanted to get a broader conversation happening around the advertising that these 30 filmmakers had created. They wanted to get the public to decide which of the ads would eventually air at the Super Bowl. In conjunction with MSN they created a bespoke microsite in which users could come and see the 30 ads, share and contribute to decide who would be the eventual winner. The incentive was that the more active they were on the site the more times they received a chance to win a prize of $10,000. 

This is a great way to incentivise a broader voice within the process of voting rather than just family, friends and networks of the filmmakers. The eventual winner was Chevy – Happy Grad. Click here to see it. The Chevy – Happy Grad ad ran live during the Super Bowl. Up to now they have used second screens to influence what happens on the first screen. 

There was a lot of other Chevy activity surrounding the Super Bowl, including 6 other ads that they aired. All of which can be seen on their YouTube channel:

The other impressive advertising that Chevy did surrounding the Super Bowl combined a number of experiential and experimental executions for their Chevy Sonic. They managed to combine 4 stunts (and viral content pieces) which were all performed in a Chevy Sonic into an ad for the Super Bowl. These stunts included the Sonic’s first Sky Dive, Kick Flip, Bungee Jump and Music Video. The 4 firsts were posted in full online driving interest in the brand and then edited into the one ad which aired during the show. One of the more impressive firsts was the music video. Chevrolet collaborated with OK GO and the result of which is already being coined as the best branded content piece ever. I know that is a big statement to make. But by teaming up with OK GO and giving them creative license to create a clip using the Chevy Sonic in anyway they wanted. Chevy essentially guaranteed themselves a viral campaign with the car front and centre. OK GO has a heritage of creating film clips that spread through the net like wildfire. With the clip clocking up over 17 million views already. Chevy has proved that they can truly integrate experiences on and offline. They have also accompanied the Chevy work with a microsite called Chevy – Let’s Do This: Creating a further depth to the conversation which includes a UGC element to further encourage interaction. 

The most impressive part of their execution is still to come. Of late for advertisers it has been hard to keep people watching Super Bowl ads mainly due to the fact that they know they can catch up with them later through various digital platforms and channels. This is not a bad thing of course. But the other challenge has been how do they captivate during the broadcast consumers interest and engagement, especially those not necessarily interested in the Super Bowl itself. So essentially encouraging users to switch on JUST for the advertising. 

To do this, Chevy has created maybe the best two-screen interactive execution we have seen that threads together all of their advertising efforts this year. It is a digital platform called Chevy – Game Time. 


Chevy Game time was an app available on both smartphones and tablets alike. There was also a microsite for people wanting to interact via PC. 

Chevy – Game Time was a platform that was to run in the background of the game and create a link between all of their advertising activity leading up to, during and after the Super Bowl. It was downloaded by 725, 000 people with the chance to win 1,000s of prize and 20 Chevy’s. The app itself was an aggregator of different sources of content pertaining to the broadcast, quizzes to win prizes both about Chevy’s advertising and the game as well as a special feature in which was a unique code given to each user. 

The code was a license plate. If your unique code matched a license plate that was on a car during the advertising through out the Super Bowl. You would win that car. 

Initial reports of the apps success are looking good. One of the early stats to be generated was that at one point during the game there were 12 – 13 million pages views in the app. 

Overall Chevy has proved the value of integrating consumer experience, focussing on a depth of conversation and creating an extended conversation over a period of time longer than 30-seconds purely by leveraging the organically occurring trend of multiscreen media consumption.

Coca Cola – Polar Bowl


The other impressive execution during the Super Bowl this year was Coca Cola. Although a slightly simpler use of multiscreen engagement.

Consumers through either Facebook, online or using a mobile app use their second screen to engage live with Coca Cola’s Polar Bear mascots whilst the game was being broadcast. I thought, how many people could possibly be interested in watching the big game with Coke’s Polar Bear’s? Well apparently a lot of people, 600, 000 to be exact. 

The Coke marketing team spent 4 months studying past Super Bowl’s and trying to predict with relative accuracy the different gestures and responses they would need to pre-program to appear to recreate live reactions from the bears throughout the game. They even made 4 versions of their half time TVC so that it coincided with which team was leading and two contingencies TVC’s in case the score was tied at half time. Two creatives from Weiden + Kennedy controlled the bears and their reactions through out the broadcast. 

Coca Cola and Chevy made a concerted investment to integrate multiple screens into their advertising this year simply due to fact that 60% of people watching the Super Bowl this year indicated they would have second screen active. By harnessing multi-screen technology both advertisers have successfully managed to captivate a huge audience over an extended period of time. 

Some of the more original reactions from the bears were both of them walking out of the room when the Elton John Pepsi Co ad aired, dancing to the Madonna Half Time Show and putting their paws over their eyes when the Dorito’s ad came on (another Pepsi Co brand). 

Here are some of the reactions that ran:

Mashable covering the complexities Coca Cola had to go through in preparing for the game: Mashable Article

Advertising Age also documented that due to Polar Bowl’s popularity that Coke had to relocate during the bowl to accommodate unanticipated traffic: Ad Age Article

What this all means for us: 

In short, to achieve these same results in Australia, process needs to change. Digital needs to be better integrated into above the line executions.

There are phenomenal opportunities to own this space at the moment. The quicker we can adapt the more flexible we will be in the future. 

The only three advertisers that have really explored this trend locally have been Unilever (Street’s Cornetto – Enigma), Pepsi (Pepsi Max – Mates) and Progressive insurance. All of whom have used Shazam to connect the first and second screens. 

The fact there has only been three advertisers exploring this space is a little disappointing to say the least. Considering it is one of the most prevalent consumers trends in Australia and set to explode as networks and other content creators start to account for it in the production of their franchises. Below are some Australian statistics that lean towards this trend becoming very much mainstream in the next couple of years: 

  • In 2011 tablet and smartphone sales over took traditional PC sales
  • Predicted that 98% of all phones sold in 2014 will be smartphones
  • There are now more mobile internet connections than DSL connections
  • There is already a 38% adoption of smartphones in Australia
  • NineMSN recently looked at the Internet habits of single men under 40 and on average they owned 5 Internet connected devices.

In essence there is no better time than now to test, learn and understand what will drive consumers from a first to a second screen and in some cases even a third. Simply, digital need to be on the agenda earlier in the planning and strategy process. It can’t be a tag on. It needs to be integrated into every stage of the ideation, strategy and executional process to ensure seamless delivery of these integrated solutions. 



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