The 2014 Super Bowl, with an average 112.2 million viewers (not to mention the 115.3 million who tuned in for the halftime show), was the most-watched program in television history. Accordingly, gametime commercial prices also hit a peak at about $4 million for 30 seconds.
For a rundown of the game’s paid advertisements, check out this fairly extensive review by Ad Age. Here, we’re more interested in what has been dubbed RTM, or real-time marketing: brands taking advantage of trending topics to market themselves. The most successful example is Oreo’s blackout tweet that went viral during last year’s Super Bowl, and it’s that type of exposure that brands were gunning for this time around.
The lack of blackouts (and exciting plays in general) during the game presented no easy opportunities for brands to pounce on, but that didn’t stop them from trying. In no particular order, here are 5 of the 2014 Super Bowl’s most notable real-time marketing moments.
1. Oreo dropped the mic and bowed out of the social media frenzy.
Hey guys…enjoy the game tonight. We’re going dark. #OreoOut
— Oreo Cookie (@Oreo) February 2, 2014
This technically didn’t happen during the game, but it was still a smart move on Oreo’s part. Instead of trying to one-up last year’s performance, they skipped live-tweeting altogether and urged fans to enjoy the game (with a subtle reference to the blackout tweet heard ’round the world). We can respect that.
2. Hillary Clinton took a dig at Fox.
It’s so much more fun to watch FOX when it’s someone else being blitzed & sacked! #SuperBowl
— Hillary Clinton (@HillaryClinton) February 3, 2014
Hillary Clinton isn’t really a brand, but according to Mass Relevance, she still managed to post the most re-tweeted message of the game. We’ll just let the fact that Fox and Fox News are two separate things slide.
3. JC Penney may have been drunk.
Toughdown Seadawks!! Is sSeattle going toa runaway wit h this???
— JCPenney (@jcpenney) February 3, 2014
Okay, they definitely weren’t drunk. (Unless the mitten thing was just a really elaborate cover-up… in which case, bravo!) They were just #TweetingWithMittens to promote their Go USA Mittens ahead of the Winter Olympics. This was probably the most amusing RTM moment of the day, especially with brands like Doritos, Coors, and Kia poking fun at them before the mitten stunt was revealed after the game, and it was definitely a success given that they didn’t have to spend $4 million for the publicity.
4. Esurance gave away $1.5 million.
— Esurance (@esurance) February 3, 2014
Instead of paying $4 million for commercial time during the game, Esurance paid about $2.5 million for the ad slot immediately after the game ended. They used that commercial to announce that they would be giving away the $1.5 million that they saved to someone who tweeted the hashtag #EsuranceSave30. That’s a powerful incentive, and it gained the brand’s Twitter account over 255,000 new followers in 2 days.
5. Tide sent out individual video responses to other brands’ commercials.
— Tide (@tide) February 3, 2014
They definitely win points for ambition and creativity with this one. Tide recorded custom Vine videos responding to the commercials of brands like Chevrolet, Budweiser, and GoDaddy that all ended with the “Tide gets it out” tagline. Very clever.