BLOG POST BY: Rowan Byers
February 13, 2023

How Brands Leveraged Social Media Ahead of Super Bowl LVII

The Kansas City Chiefs became NFL champions for the second time in four years after a thrilling comeback that saw them win 38-35 over the Philadelphia Eagles.

The Super Bowl is one of – if not the – biggest event in the marketing calendar, with brands shifting huge portions of their ad spend towards a gamely TV spot. However, building on the back of last year’s success, more brands leveraged social media placements ahead of Super Bowl LVII. From Doritos’ Triangle Tryouts to the return of Breaking Bad’s Walt and Jesse, we’ll be delving into the best Super Bowl ads 2023 and how brands leveraged platforms ahead of the big game.

Fast Travel

How Brands Used Social Media in Super Bowl Ads 2023

Are Influencers Overtaking Celebrities in Super Bowl Advertising?

Leveraging Social Media Ahead of Sporting Events and Advertisers Return to Twitter

Super Bowl Ads 2023

How Brands Used Social Media in Super Bowl Ads 2023

Last year, it was State Farm’s TikTok-only campaign that brought a new meaning to Super Bowl advertising. TikTokers were encouraged to submit videos for a chance to be in the company’s next commercial.

Speaking to Marketing Brew, Alyson Griffin, VP of marketing for State Farm, said that the campaign received close to 460 submissions, 13.2 million views on TikTok, 77,100 new followers, and more than 50 media placements that totalled to nearly 312 million impressions. Usually, commercial spots like these are more of a one off. However, the success of this certainly indicates a new trend.

Some of the Best Super Bowl ads 2023

Doritos’ Triangle Tryouts

Doritos have a track record of memorable Super Bowl spots, with campaigns like the Lil Nas X Cool Ranch placement boosting the pre-game hype in years gone by.

Ahead of Super Bowl LVII, Doritos offered fans the lucky chance to feature on the big screen alongside a mystery celebrity. To those fancying their chances, Doritos triangulated and pieced together the ‘Triangle Tryouts’, a TikTok dance-off challenging users to submit their best “triangle inspired” dance moves. Doritos threw in the added incentive of appearing in their prime time ad, alongside rapper Jack Harlow.

If the idea of appearing on the big screen at the Super Bowl wasn’t enough, Doritos also threw in a $5,000 cash prize for the winner, and $500 for the two runner up finalists.

The FedEx TikTok Concert Series

FedEx fielded a similar approach. The company launched a campaign, activating six TikTok musicians for an in-app performance during halftime of the wild-card games on Super Bowl weekend. 

Titled FedEx NFL Playoffs Concert Series, the campaign sought to highlight the company’s new picture proof of delivery feature. Each performer received their own TikTok Live performance. The featured artists included Henry Jacob Platt, Sheyna Gee, Blake Rouse, Sophie Truax, Keilam and New Haven.

Enda Conway, senior VP, head of connections strategy, BBDO said in the build up to the respective performances:

“It is so easy to get lost in the noise around the Super Bowl when the hype really starts a month beforehand in new platforms,”

“That’s why we wanted to add value to our audience once the playoffs got going while giving up-and-coming artists their own half-time show.” 

PopCorners Breaking Bad Super Bowl Ad

The winner of Super Bowl LVII (marketing) was PopCorners, with their revival of Walter White and Jesse Pinkman from Breaking Bad. The two characters starred in the brand’s Super Bowl commercial, promoting the newest flavor of popped chips, as if it was their famous Blue Sky product from the TV series.

Some may question what a TV show, that concluded in 2013, has to do with the current interest of online communities today.

Breaking Bad has seen a revival of its own across social media, in particular with meme communities who use clips from the show as templates for comedic content. With the show proving to be as popular as ever, it makes sense then that PopCorners would tap into the conversation by bringing back arguably two of the most recognizable TV characters of all time.

Aptly titled #PopCornersBreakingGood, the ad had been teased for some time with tweets alluding to Walt and Jesse’s (Bryan Cranston & Aaron Paul) revival with images inspired by the hit series.

Are Influencers Overtaking Celebrities in Super Bowl Advertising?

Advertisers could have run 37 branded hashtag challenges for the price of a Super Bowl TV slot in 2022, says Brendan Gahan, partner and chief social officer at Mekanism.

“When you look at Super Bowls from years past, you walk away remembering one, two, three spots,” he said. “I think for most brands, their dollars would be better spent elsewhere.”

Prioritizing social over TV is a growing trend amongst brands in this space. However, are influencers ready to take airtime away from triple A celebrities at this moment.

The Marketing Arm (TMA) released its 2022 Super Poll last year, in which more than half of 1000 respondents (all age ranges) said they would prefer to keep influencers in their respective social channels, as opposed to seeing them on the big screen during the game.

What we’re seeing is that creators posting to their native platforms to support a message, or branded idea, is far more impactful than trying to align them with traditional TV audiences, at least at this stage. 

With that being said, brands that aren’t considering promoting online through influencers are missing an opportunity. Multiply that missed opportunity by ten if you work for a brand that aims to reach younger audiences. 

Social media provides brands with an opportunity to tap into the conversations around sporting events, and with the Super Bowl as an example, at a fraction of the cost. This year, it is reported that brands had to part with around $7 million of their marketing budgets for a 30 second slot amongst the game’s traditional television placements. 

Super Bowl Ads 2023

Leveraging Social Media Ahead of Sporting Events and Advertisers Return to Twitter

Last year we looked at how brands were planning to shift their spend from tv to social media, TikTok in particular. State Farm’s investment in a social first Super Bowl campaign sought to harness the power of participation on the world’s fastest growing social media platform. Looking back, the use of the hashtag challenge is the perfect way to drive hype ahead of a major sporting event such as the Super Bowl. However, as PR Week writes, the integration of TikTok is limited to pre, and post game.

TikTok is a “sound-on” platform, meaning that it requires the full attention of its user base. 47% of users say they pay “full-attention” when consuming content on the platform, which is 21% higher than other platforms. TikTok’s ‘all ears’ approach means that the app is not most frequently used as a second screen, whilst watching the TV for example.

Noah Mallin, chief strategy officer of social media agency IMGN Media insists that brands should look to use other avenues for marketing during events like the Super Bowl, focusing instead on a pre and post game TikTok strategy.

As per Mallin:

“Post-game, TikTok is a hotbed of trending sounds and moments, so if something happens during the game that is notable and leads to organic content being created that starts to trend, that is an opportunity for brands if it makes sense,”

Twitter, on the other hand, serves up real-time content while being used as a secondary screen to the Super Bowl. Fans will tune into Twitter to share their opinions on what they just watched in the game. 

It comes as no surprise then that top brands were injecting large amounts into Twitter’s business channel ahead of the Super Bowl. 

Brewing giant Anheuser-Busch InBev committed around $2.4 million to promote its beer brands during the NFL’s championship game, marking the first time in 33 years where the company won’t have the exclusive advertising rights to television ad breaks.

PepsiCo is reported to have spent somewhere in the region of $3 million. The food and beverage giant had been the sponsor for the Super Bowl halftime show for the past decade, but was replaced this year by Apple Music.

Super Bowl Ads 2023

Such an injection from high profile brands will be a huge boost for Twitter, which has seen its advertising revenues plummet since Elon Musk acquired the platform. Some of Twitter’s top advertisers have withdrawn or redirected their budgets away from the platform due to concerns about the uncertainty and controversy surrounding Musk’s rapid changes.

Despite concerns, the sporting world seems to remain committed to Twitter. The platform saw more than 30 content sponsorship deals with publications, broadcasters and sports properties early 2023.

The decision by Anheuser-Busch, owner of Budweiser, and Pepsi to show faith in Twitter advertising highlights the platform’s value. It still serves as an alternative to both official partnerships and television spots, despite large-scale concerns.

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Written by: Rowan Byers

Insights Executive at The Goat Agency