Viewers snoozed through the first half of Super Bowl XLVII: The Baltimore Ravens were inexplicably blowing out the San Francisco 49ers, and the ads—many of which had been thoroughly teased in the weeks leading up to the big game—didn’t offer many surprises.
But the partial blackout in the third quarter changed everything. With broadcasters forced to make football small talk for 34 minutes, brands flexed their social strength and took to the Twittersphere. Among the three fastest “newsjackers,” reports bloggers at Marketing Land, were Oreo, sending out a “you can still dunk in the dark message” via Instagram, and a “We do carry candles” tweet from Walgreens. And Audi took the opportunity to poke competitor Mercedes-Benz, and its Mercedes-Benz Superdome, the likely cause of the power outage: “Sending some LEDs to the @MBUSA Superdome right now...”
One @Phillyadman took the opportunity to run a custom blackout Twitter ad for Tide: “We can’t get your blackout. But we can get your stains out,” according to MediaPost’s #adhuddle feed.
Of course, the blackout also gave the 49ers a chance to shift the game’s momentum, making advertisers who made third- and fourth-quarter ad buys look like sports Einsteins.
“The ads were like the game, in that they started slow and picked up steam at the end. The ads in the second half greatly outperformed the earlier ones, “ says Steve McKee, president of McKee, Wallwork & Company, an Albuquerque, N.M., ad agency which has been running AdBowl since 2002.
His agency sponsors AdBowl, an event that allows voters to rank their favorite spots. McKee’s favorite? “The Dodge Ram farmer spot, which was voted No. 1. It was an anthem, and a statement. Chrysler is one of those advertisers that chose to keep its powder dry and not pre-release the spot, and I think that was a good call for them. And I love how different it was from their previous ads. It didn’t try to make a sequel to the Clint Eastwood or Eminem ad. But it was still in the same spirit and really well done.”
In a twist, this year the agency turned its Ad Bowl into a Kitty Bowl, having the ads face off against cat videos. “Cats are the most popular videos on the Internet, except during the Super Bowl. So we thought this would be fun,” he says. (Not to mention a nice paw swipe at the Puppy Bowl.)
And in early voting, while ads dominated the top three spots, cats took two of the top 10 places, “proving a homemade cat video can be just as effective as an ad that cost millions to make.” (Voters also had a chance to make an online contribution to the Animal Humane Society of New Mexico.)
After the Dodge Ram ad and the second-ranked Tide Miracle Stain ad, with Joe Montana in topiary, the most popular ads were Budweiser’s baby Clydesdale, Coca-Cola’s Security Camera, Kia’s Space Babies, Audi’s Prom Spot, Oreo’s Whisper Fight and Jeep’s Whole Again.
Two highly anticipated spots, Samsung’s hilarious two-minute Galaxy commercial and the Mercedes-Benz introduction of Willem Dafoe as the devil, failed to make the Top 10.
But Volkswagen and its buzzed-about "Get Happy" ad ruled the war of the tweets, generating a score of 86,000 of them, as measured by BrandBowl. (Developed by Mullen, Radian6 and Boston.com, that contest calculated the number of positive and neutral mentions a brand had in the weeks leading up the game, minus the negatives.) Bud Light gathered the most overall chatter. And Taco Bell's rabble-rousing seniors earned the most love, followed by Doritos, with the Dodge Ram Farmer spot coming in third.