Super Bowl Ads Have Become Integrated Marketing Campaigns

by Belfort Group | Agency News , Thought Leadership
February 5, 2013

By Tom Ryan, Director of Marketing and Creative Services, Belfort Group

How do you make the most out of a $4 million ad? You cross your fingers and hope that your target audience isn’t refilling a plate of buffalo chicken dip when your ad runs. Or, you build an integrated approach into your Super Bowl advertising, engaging your customers before, during and after the big game in a variety of paid, earned and owned channels. Who could forget when Volkswagen did this famously with their Darth Vader homage in 2012, releasing the ad on Youtube prior to the big game and then reaping repeat views and buzz for weeks afterwards. On par with VW, the Doritos brand has been making customer engagement and crowd sourced advertising concepts a big part of its Super Bowl campaign since 2006.


This year, several brands are vying for the coveted consumer and media share of mind that  demonstrates  pre-Super Bowl awareness, pre-game customer engagement,  traditional and social media exposure, in-game fan favorite status, and post-game buzz. Some, like Mercedes and Samsung, have even been able to leverage media relations with traditional broadcast coverage by releasing their ads or teaser versions in social channels prior to the big game, which resulted in a CNN segment analyzing the effectiveness of this pre-release strategy. Newsflash CNN, you just gave these campaigns the boost the advertisers were seeking.

We enjoyed watching the integrated marketing campaigns and evaluating  which brands made the most effective use of paid, earned and owned channels. Surprisingly, many brands that have led the way in the past, failed to hit the mark this year. While nearly half the ads had hashtags to encourage social chatter, very few had a call to action or a driver to an online experience.

Our winners and losers for the integrated advertising strategy include:


  1. Oreo. While Oreo’s Super Bowl spot featuring the classic cookie versus crème debate (Whisper Fight) that turned  into mayhem at a public library was entertaining and funny, it was an effective social media play that put the brand over the top and delivered an integrated experience for consumers. During the power outage, Oreo was able to seize the moment because it had a central social command center set up that included the brand team. Because of this, they were able to green light a relevant and creative concept that played off the power outage. The “You can still dunk in the dark” creative concept was posted on Facebook and  shared more than 18,000 times. This dunk in the dark was a big win for the brand.
  2. Audi: Fans voted on one of three endings for the Audi Bowl commercial online and the spot was still effective live, spurring consumer buzz in social channels. Tweets:  6,673, Youtube views: 7,961,027.
  3. Taco Bell: Old folks having a rollicking good time then finishing it off with a trip to Taco Bell while a Spanish version of the song “We Are Young” played in the background. The Taco Bell commercial was fun, delivered on the brand promise, spoke to a multicultural audience and created great social buzz. Tweets:  56,592, Youtube views:  1,241,108.
  4. Mercedes: Lots of people complained about brands releasing commercials prior to the game, but this spot was a win for Mercedes given the pre-game news exposure and considering the fact their spot was slotted for late in the game after a long power outage. Tweets: 14,087, Youtube views: 6,680,793.
  5. Dodge Ram & Jeep:  Ram and Jeep leveraged tributes to farmers and veterans to strike a chord with Americans, and it resonated in social media. Tweets: 3,223, Youtube views: 699,274. Tweets: 5,418, Youtube views: 430,523.
  6. Iron Man: The Iron Man commercial was one of the few spots to wow the audience and provide a compelling reason to go online to consume more content. Tweets:  598, Youtube views: 14,621, Facebook extended trailer views: 73,218, Facebook comments: 53,468.
  7. GoDaddy: Gross, over the top, and beyond the realm of good taste. The GoDaddy commercial made people so universally disgusted that they had to say something about it in social media.
  8. Pepsi: May be the first time that a brand was able to spoof its competitor (Coke) with a produced video during the game. Pepsi’s spoof had the likenesses of the characters from the Coke chase commercial.



  1. Coke: Seemed like the concept could have used some work. The Coke ad drove fans to vote for the winner of the desert race online but the payoff ending was lackluster. Plus Pepsi was able to create a video to spoof the commercial which they launched real-time during the game.
  2. Budweiser: Except for the Clydesdale ad, most of the Budweiser Black Crown and Bud Light spots failed to live up to past Super Bowl campaigns and had no online tie-ins.
  3. Volkswagen: German engineering makes you so happy that you start talking as if you’re Jamaican. The VW ad, called racist by some detractors, just wasn’t all that funny and creating controversy over racism is always a losing outcome.


The New York Times Reviews MIT EMBA Program
The #BostonShake: Reviving an Internet Meme