The Best 2014 Super Bowl Ads Using Social Media

The Big Game. Long gone are the days when the Super Bowl was just a football game that decided the champion of a professional sports league. No, today the Super Bowl is an event, a social phenomenon that is deeply engrained in popular culture around the globe. I remember growing up in Mexico where soccer is king and the only NFL game watched in my household was the Super Bowl.

The Big Game is consistently ranked among the most watched television broadcasts in the US and the around the world, which, in turn, has created a secondary (maybe primary?) competition: the Super Bowl commercial faceoff – or the Super Ad Bowl. One of the most important elements that have facilitated the continuous growth in relevance of the Super Bowl ads is their ability to evolve and adapt alongside society. Due to the increasing interest in the Super Bowl commercials over the last few years, some savvy marketers have leveraged the power of social media to enhance the impact and reach of their overall campaigns.

Last year we published a post reviewing the 2013 commercials to identify those companies that were integrating social media tactics into their campaigns. So, without further ado, here are the effective social media Super Bowl commercials of 2014:

Doritos

Once again, Doritos has done a great job with their annual “Crash the Super Bowl” campaign where they invite consumers to create and submit their own ads. The finalists are featured on the Doritos website where the public can vote for their favourite commercial in the hopes that they will see it on air during the Super Bowl.

Currently in its eighth year, some say that the formula is starting to get old, but aren’t traditions born out of consistency? More importantly, year after year it proves successful in getting people deeply involved with the Doritos brand in a positive way and the ads are enjoyable, so I say: Long Live Crash the Super Bowl!

The voting is over but here is my favourite.

Intuit

Intuit is not a “usual suspect” when it comes to Super Bowl commercials; this year, however, the company behind products like Quickbooks, TurboTax and Quicken has entered the world of Big Game ads in a very interesting way. Intuit’s main target market is smalls businesses. The company feels that small businesses are one of the main drivers of the economy and yet, they seldom have the opportunity or the resources to be featured in a Super Bowl ad.

In comes Intuit who have been working on the “Small Business, Big Game” campaign since last summer. The premise is simple. They encouraged small businesses to submit their stories for the chance to win a professionally produced TV commercial that will air during the Super Bowl courtesy of Intuit. After a lengthy selection and elimination process that included promotion on different mediums, staff voting and finally an open vote, the final four businesses have been selected and one of them will have their commercial aired on Sunday. Neat, right?

What is especially interesting about this case is that Intuit will be sacrificing air time that they have paid big bucks for, placing value instead on the buzz, publicity and brand awareness that they have created amongst their target market. Also, it never hurts to get one of the NFL’s biggest stars and an NFL legend to tweet about it!

Intuit-Small Biz

twitter intuit small biz

Heinz

Heinz is another company that does not usually make an appearance on the Super Bowl commercial scene. This year, however, they are in and they are bringing their loyal ketchup army along with them. Heinz is engaging their customers with a campaign called “Show Us Your Heinz” where they invite people to submit photos showing their love for Heinz Ketchup for a chance to win various different prizes including gift cards, grills and travel packages for major sporting events. Customers are able to submit their photos on the Heinz website or via mobile through the use of QR codes (and you thought they were useless!). Heinz is pushing the promotion of this contest heavily on social media, especially on their Facebook page.

The mechanics of the contest seem a little basic (get people to participate by submitting a photo) but in the end, it has proven effective in the past. I do wonder how much more successful the campaign would be if they allowed people to use social media (Twitter or Instagram) to submit their photos with the use of a proprietary hashtag. I am sure that the multi-step process of submitting through the Heinz website has surely turned people away. All in all, “Show Us Your Heinz” is effectively involving people with the brand so it cracked our list.

Budweiser

No Super Bowl ad list can be complete without mentioning Big Game ad veterans, Budweiser. This year, the main focus has been on Bud Light as they kicked off their #UpForWhatever campaign releasing four teasers with heavy hitter celebrities like Don Cheadle and Governor Terminator himself, Arnold Schwarzenegger. Bud Light has done a tremendous job of piquing our interest as to what this is really all about.
Interestingly, Bud Light has heavily invested in Google ads to promote their #UpForWhatever hashtag by using sitelinks that allow people to watch all of the teasers in one ad. I for one will be watching to see if the sitelinks change into the actual full ads once they are released.

Bud Light

bud light site links

Special mention goes to the recently released sequel to their 2013 commercial “Brotherhood.” Because, let’s face it, puppies are just adorable.

Toyota

Who doesn’t love the Muppets? Well, if you are a fan of these furry friends, I have good news. They will be featured in Toyota’s #Unbornify campaign and they promise one thing: it will be fun. What is noteworthy here is that Toyota is following a similar approach to that being used by Budweiser. They are both using sitelinks in their ads but the difference is that Toyota’s links take users to their various social media profiles instead of to the company’s website or landing page. This goes to show the importance that Toyota is placing on their social media as a way to connect with their consumer base.

Toyota - site links

toyota site links

The above list is about brands using the digital space as part of their campaigns but it is interesting to take a quick look at those ads that are generating the biggest buzz on the web leading up to the Big Game.

Axe

The big winner so far is Unilever’s Axe commercial. Known for targeting a young male demographic, the company has featured both sexy women and astronauts in the past. This year is a huge departure from what they have done before. Their decision to explore a new approach is paying off big time. By promoting their partnership with Peace One Day and their new “Axe Peace” initiative, the brand is featuring a commercial with a positive message: “Make love not war.”

As I sit and write this article, the video has already amassed close to 3.5 million views on YouTube in just a couple of weeks. According to iSpot.tv, a TV advertising intelligence platform, this commercial has created over 80,000 interactions in social chatter. It is gratifying to see that a commercial with a positive takeaway and for a great cause is leading the race so far.

Oikos

Coming a little bit from left field is the Greek yogurt brand Oikos, who came up with the master plan of reuniting John Stamos, Bob Saget and Dave Coulier from the popular sitcom “Full House” (Uncle Joey, anyone?) in a series of ads, teasers and short featurettes that speak loudly to their target demographic. More importantly, the “Bromance” campaign has been heavily promoted on social media through Twitter and Facebook. With over 2 million views in just 3 days, the Greek yogurt buzz is definitely on the rise.

Which ad will come out victorious in the Super Ad Bowl? That still remains to be seen. More importantly which is YOUR favourite Super Bowl XLVIII commercial? Please mention it in the comments below.

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