Did Super Bowl Ads Create the 'Social Bowl'? Not Exactly

Read more at: PCMag.com

A number of companies began companion social media campaigns before their commercials even aired, including Doritos, Twentieth Century Fox, Budweiser, and Mercedes. For this, AdAge declared 2011’s Super Bowl the “Social Bowl.” But when the ads aired Sunday night, very few of them actually featured much of a significant social component.

More could be said about the buzz that the ads generated online after they aired. Audi, whose ad was leaked prior to Sunday, banked on the fact that people would inevitably talk about ads online, and included a custom hashtag (#progressIS) at the end of its commercial that took a dig at Mercedes. But it was small and easy to miss if you weren’t looking for it.

Another carmaker, Volkswagen, probably had one of the most comprehensive online campaigns attached to its commercial, and the company continues to ride the wave of online chatter. Volkswagen purchased the main banner on YouTube for the day after the game and it planned an online “takeover” of the ESPN mobile site during the Super Bowl.

A lot of the tie-ins to social networking sites were subtle. For example, ads from Teleflora, CarMax, and E-Trade featured Facebook and Twitter logos at the end of the ad, but few had outright references to social media.

Twentieth Century Fox also had an online tie-in. Promoting its upcoming movie “Rio,” the studio put out a custom code at the end of the preview of the film that lets players unlock a new level on the popular game Angry Birds.

One of the most nonsensical campaigns came from first-time Super Bowl advertiser Mercedes Benz. The luxury carmaker launched what it called a “tweet-fueled race” to Dallas. Aside from this explanation posted by Fast Company, Mercedes never properly explained how exactly tweets fueled the Benzes. Additionally, the actual TV spot starring P. Diddy, had little to do with a Twitter race and focused more on Mercedes history.