How Social Media Won the Super Bowl

superbowlIf you’re going to have an event televised and viewed by over 100 million people, it’s safe to say marketers will be licking their chops at the opportunity such an event affords them. And it’s not just a big day for those few who can afford commercial spots during the Super Bowl. In the middle of all the glitz, glamour, celebrities, puppies and high production value taking place on your telly, the largest conversation ever was taking place on the smaller screens of your home: your computer, phone and tablet. And in this conversation is what every company who could not afford a Super Bowl commercial hoped to take part.

A study by Clemson University claimed that one in four Americans posted their thoughts and reactions on Facebook or Twitter during the big game. That is over 100 million people tweeting, posting, and liking away. In this day and age, large events (Super Bowl, Olympics, State of the Union addresses) attract people to televisions and smaller devices alike, and with such an audience at their disposal, companies treated these Social conversations as if they had commercial time themselves.

Gettin’ creative up in here

100 million people makes for a crowded room. And one does not simply enter that room, say something, and expect to be heard. No, you have to be creative, you have to pull your mental drawers down and do a song & dance. In doing so, one does risk embarrassment, but one must toe the line of embarrassment and creativity to get noticed.

This is the conundrum marketers have when using Social Media on the day of the big game. Those who want to play it safe can wish everyone a happy Super Bowl Sunday, share out a meme of a football with their logo, and call it a day. Or, companies can take risks to cash-in on real-time marketing. This is what JC Penney elected to do.

Those following JC Penney were undoubtedly scratching their heads at two tweets, laced with grammatical errors and misspellings, during the ball game.

“Toughdown Seadawks!! Is sSeattle going toa runaway wit h this???”

“Who kkmew theis was ghiong tob e a baweball ghamle. #lowsscorinh 5_0”

jcpenney2At first glance, this appears like a Social Media disaster. Those following thought they were witnessing a Social Media meltdown comparable to Home Depot’s god-awful racist tweet, in real time. Did one of the employees take a restroom break and their 6-year-old son took the controls? Surely someone will get fired for this!

Well, it was all a joke. Those two posts were bookended by tweets advertising new mittens on sale at their stores. The latter post then apologized for the previous tweets, explaining they were tweeting with mittens on. A picture of a person with mittens posting on his or her cell phone was posted, and the nation breathed a sigh of relief for that JC Penney employee who everyone thought would get the axe.

Other companies did some very creative marketing with Social during the Super Bowl, no doubt, but JC Penney grabbed the headlines.

Smoking Hashtags

The problem with having a dog in the Super Bowl Social Media fight: even those billion-dollar companies that bought commercial space during the Super Bowl took part in the conversation.

To do this, companies advertised hashtags during their commercials in an attempt to continue conversations the commercials began, to all Social channels. Instead of just advertising their website, which is so 1999, hashtags are the new, universally accepted way to carry on conversations across all Social channels.

“Hashtags create a magnet around which a brand can condense conversation,” Lux Narayan, CEO of Unmetric, said.  “The presence of the hashtag establishes the linkage back to the brand or content.”


According to, more than half of the 53 advertisements during the game contained hashtags. To be exact, 58 percent of them did, up from 50 percent at the 2013 Super Bowl.

In addition, eight commercials advertised the company’s Social Media platforms, which included thumbnails of Social channels similar to that of what you would see on a website.

According to The Washington Post, a 30-second commercial cost $4 million during the Super Bowl. When spending that kind of dough, a company undoubtedly wishes to ensure that their commercials are amplified across Facebook, Twitter and YouTube in order to reach the widest audience.

Brian Kendall

Brian is a former journalist turned full-time blogger ... by choice. Brian studied at Angelo State University, where he graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism and English. A former editor for the volunteer-run news site Daily Source, Brian began working for Speak Social in 2012. Whether it be blogs, press releases, Wikipedia pages or whatever it is that a brand needs to communicate with, Brian creates original content for his clients. Brian Kendall on Google+ @TheBrianKendall

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