How The 44 Super Bowl Advertisers Got Social


Peter Claridge

February 5, 2016 14 min read

Updated on May 2, 2017


Some say Christmas is the most wonderful time of the year (well, Andy Williams does, any way), others would say it’s summer time (unless you’re Lana Del Rey, of course). For me, the best time of year is February. Yes, I am British and no, I don’t understand this Football that the Americans call it, but by gum I do love the adverts and the marketing madness that surrounds the Super Bowl.

Another reason I love this time of the year is that it is a great excuse for the entire marketing team to sit in the big conference room and watch YouTube non-stop all day in the name of ‘work’.

This year there are 44 different brands advertising during the Super Bowl. We watched all their ads and then dug into the Unmetric app to dig up data and insights behind the marketing strategies employed by each brand.

 The job of analyzing each brand’s Super Bowl marketing campaign can’t be handled by one man alone, so for this analysis, each member of the marketing team has been brought in to offer their thoughts and opinions on a set of 11 ads each.

To kick things off, Aishwarya looked into all the car brands. Here’s what she found.

1. Acura

Acura’s 30 second spot at the Super Bowl is unapologetically focused on the brand, and car – Acura NSX itself. Devoid of familiar distractions like celebrities, animals and other ‘fuss’, the new car is the absolute star and Acura manages quite confidently what other auto brands often attempt – a sexy commercial. The YouTube video has received more than a million views with most comments being positive. The Tweet releasing the ad was their best engaging since Jan 1, but is modest compared to other brands in the sector. For reasons they know best, the brand has chosen not to share the ad on Facebook (yet).

2. Audi

Audi has released a 90 second extended cut of their Super Bowl ad. An ode to their R8, which will undoubtedly resonate with any auto nut, the brand compares the feel of driving the luxury automobile to the launch of a rocket – showcasing the incredible thrill of starting the car and the out-of-this-world experience driving it.

If the point was to set it (the car, not necessarily the ad) apart from other major brands, I think it makes its point quite effectively. The 60 second commercial has already racked up close to 2M views on YouTube, impressive but a long way from 2015’s Doberhuahua which at last count has been viewed more than 12M times. On Facebook, the post announcing their ad saw a spike in engagement with more than 17K Likes.  

3. Buick

A single teaser tweet using #BigGame and #BuickCascada was the most engaging for the brand in the time period but the auto brand seems to have left the Super Bowl alone so far this year. For a first time advertiser, it definitely could be doing more on social. Their most engaging content continues to be from #NAIAS.

4. Fiat Chrysler

I searched high and low on Fiat and Chrysler’s social media channels to see what they had planned for this Super Bowl but there was absolutely nothing. In fact, the most popular video this year for Chrysler was a 5 year old Imported From Detroit Super Bowl ad. Fiat’s most popular video included Ben Stiller in his Zoolander role. It’s quite a clever ad and I wouldn’t be surprised if we see something like this make an appearance on Sunday.

5. Honda

One of the odder entries this year are Honda’s sheep. Previous Super Bowl ads have introduced us to horses, puppies, cows in love and even Doberhuahuas, and this year we have sheep. Singing sheep. The video has inexplicably received more than a million views since being uploaded on Feb 1, and is likely to grow steadily after the game itself.

While the hashtag #Ridgeline isn’t used in the ad itself, it’s already been used more than 1000 times on Twitter, although this can be attributed to their presentation at #NAIAS

6. Hyundai

In an ad landscape already saturated with car commercials, Hyundai is bringing not 1, not 2, not 3 but 4 separate ads to the Super Bowl – pre-game and game time included. In a formula that has worked in the past, Hyundai uses celebrities (Ryan Reynolds, Kevin Hart), talking animals, and a father / daughter relationship to showcase some of the features of the 2017 Hyundai Elantra and the 2016 Hyundai Genesis.

To be honest, when I watched all the car commercials this year, they all sort of blended into each other. What I liked about the Hyundai ads was that even though it seemed formulaic, the brand used interesting situations to highlight features that would speak to specific target audiences. And the data doesn’t lie – formulas work. Easily the most successful of the car commercials – the Ryan Reynolds ad has brought in nearly 3.5M views, the Kevin Hart video brought in another 3.4M and the Chase ad – with the talking bears, racked up a staggering 15M views from its release date on Feb 1st.

On Twitter too, the brand has leveraged its sponsorship of the Super Bowl to amp up engagement with its audience. Their top 6 trending hashtags in the past month have been Super Bowl related with the most popular being #HyundaiSuperBowl.

7. Kia

Kia’s Super Bowl offering tries to set the car apart from other similar vehicles – all of whom are dismissed as ‘beige’ in an ironically trite Walken closet. The video, published on Feb 2nd has amassed around 2.5M views. Honestly, it’s a beautiful car and deserves more than to be referred to as “the world’s most exciting pair of socks, but it’s a mid-size sedan”.

On Twitter, the brand has been using the hashtag #addpizzazz consistently to drive conversation around the campaign and it seems to have caught the attention of their Follower base, being used more than a thousand times.

8. Mini USA

Sometimes a car commercial sells a car, sometimes it sells a story. And all great ads sell a concept. In their Super Bowl offering, the Mini is attempting to redefine itself and honestly I think it works quite beautifully. For a legacy brand like Mini, the popular opinion of their iconic car can sometimes work to their detriment with people assuming that only certain people fit the brand image, and that some people don’t.

By using the Super Bowl as a platform to relaunch themselves in the US market with the help of some famous faces that add credibility to their claim of breaking out of boxes society puts people in – Mini is going beyond just selling their vehicles, and are aggressively relaunching their brand. Their 30 sec video has already been watched more than 6.6M times, and this will only continue to grow.

Like we saw with #BestBuds last year, a strong hashtag can really rally the conversation around a brand and commercial before, during and after the Super Bowl. Mini’s #DefyLabels is a great example of a ‘social hashtag’ – one that users can use and make their own, outside of the brand’s commercial – making it inherently more shareable than a brand or product name. The hashtag has already been used more than 8000 times by users and has been the most engaging for the brand.

9. Toyota

The ad was watched around 300K times, the hashtag  – #GoPriusGo was used recently by the brand – they’re also encouraging users to use it to be featured in the Super Bowl airing of the ad so will be interesting to see the jump in hashtag use leading up to the game.

10. WeatherTech

WeatherTech is one of the few brands to take the serious route this year. Their commercial capitalizes on the emotion “Made in America” evokes. The video showcases the workers or what I assume is the “Resources” as the video is titled. At the time of writing this report it has over 19K video views. Keeping with the theme, the brand is promoting and using the hashtag #AmericanWorkers.

11. Avocados From Mexico

Possibly the best video from the lot this year. Coming from a humble brand with minimal glamour quotient, this commercial takes us to a galaxy not so far away. Our galactic neighbors might be quite different from us, but double dipping is not acceptable anywhere. This quirky advert has been viewed 450,000 times on YouTube.

And now it’s time for me (that is, Peter) to take over the reins…

12. Bai

Is Bai even running a Super Bowl ad this year? Not if their social media is anything to go by. The brand has been silent on all its channels about its Super Bowl ad. Instead the brand has been focusing its recent content efforts around its #guitarproject campaign.

13. Budweiser

Budweiser is not bringing back their super popular puppies this year but given that a new Clydesdale foal was born in January it wouldn’t be a surprise if this makes an appearance. Budweiser is focusing its Super Bowl campaigns around two hashtags. One is #GiveaDamn and is fronted by Helen Mirren who talks about the stupidity of drunk driving. The video on Facebook got 161,000 views while on YouTube it got over 2M views.

14. Bud Light

Can any Bud Light Super Bowl commercial beat 2014’s Up For Whatever with Arnold Schwarzenegger? Not in my opinion, but this one does come quite close. With a clear nod (and stuck out tongue) to all the primaries taking place at the moment, Bud Light’s #BudLightParty campaign has roped in comedy heavyweights Amy Schumer and Seth Rogen. The ad has been viewed over 2.1M times on YouTube and 1.8M times on Facebook.

The hashtag has been used 219 times by Bud Light and 1,288 times by users. However it’s not the most popular Bud Light hashtag, that goes to #myteamcan which was used over 5,000 times by users while the brand used it just 11 times.

15. Coca-Cola

Cola-Cola is keeping its Super Bowl ad under wraps although it’s reported to be tying up with Marvel so it looks like there’s going to be a superhero element to it. The beverage brand has maintained radio silence on its social profiles with no indication that they are going to be running a Super Bowl ad on Sunday.

16. Shock Top

First published its video on Facebook on January 28th and has uploaded the same video two more times on Facebook, which has been viewed 142,000 times. On YouTube the video was also uploaded on January 28th but has gained over 2.23M views. The hashtag for this campaign is #livelifeunfiltered but has only been used 92 times by people so far.

17. Butterfinger

Butterfinger’s #bolderthanbold Super Bowl ad dropped on January 26th and has seen 656,000 views to date on YouTube. The same video was posted the next day on Facebook where it has seen 848,000 views to date. Butterfinger has also posted short clips from the main advert on Facebook and these videos have received over 900,000 views together.

The hashtag #BolderThanBold has been used over 500 times by users and 24 times by the brand. The brand has generated 672 mentions since the beginning of January.

18. Doritos

Doritos is back with their Crash the Super Bowl campaign. This time there are three adverts that could be played during the game and the audience has to vote on which one they want to see played. As usual with Doritos, each ad is completely off the wall. The three ads have been viewed nearly 20 million times on YouTube since they were uploaded on February 3rd. The Ultrasound ad looks like it’s the runaway winner so far with the most views and the most engagement on the tweets that mention it.

As usual, Doritos are using the #crashthesuperbowl hashtag which has been getting a lot of traction with over 3,700 tweets mentioning the hashtag. The brand is also using just the hashtag #sb50 in much of its content and that has been used over 4,100 times by users who also @-mention Doritos.

Doritos are also running a campaign where the best tweet, image or video can win $50,000 if they tag #doritos in the content.

19. Heinz Ketchup

Heinz dropped this video on January 31st on Youtube and on Facebook on February 2nd. Heinz posted two versions of the advert, one 30 second and one 60 second. The 60 second ad has received nearly 3 million views on YouTube and 2 million views on Facebook. The shorter ad has 275,000 views on YouTube and 1 million views on Facebook, meaning there is little difference between the two social networks in terms of views.

The campaign is anchored with the hashtag #MeetTheKetchups and users have responded well, using it over 3,300 times since it was first used on February 1st. Mentions of the @heinzketchup brand on Twitter have skyrocketed since the beginning of the month. Normally the brand gets around 20-35 mentions a day.

20. Michelob Ultra

The beer that markets itself to people that like to look after themselves posted their Super Bowl ad on February 4th. To date it has received just 15,000 views. The video has seen far more success on Facebook where it has been viewed over 810,000 times after it was posted yesterday.

The brand doesn’t appear to be running any hashtag campaign around the advert, choosing instead to use the brand hashtag #MichelobUltra and the event hashtag #SB50 for all its tweets. Mentions of the brand peaked at 76 on February 4th when the advert was released, which is higher than the 20-50 mentions the brand usually gets each day.

21. Mountain Dew

The ads this year are all a little weird but Mountain Dew manages to ratchet it up several notches with its #puppymonkeybaby campaign. The video, which dropped on February 3rd caused the whole team at Unmetric to utter a “What the…” after it had finished playing on the big screen. Still, it’s generated nearly 1 million views on Facebook and over 3.1 million views on Facebook.

The hashtag #puppymonkeybaby seems to be working because since the video was published, over 1,200 people have used it – and I can’t imagine someone would accidentally use a hashtag like this. Mentions of Mountain Dew, which are normally around 100 a day, spiked to over 500 the last couple of days.

22. Pepsi

Pepsi released their Super Bowl advert featuring Janelle Monáe on February 4th where it has generated just 2,400 views on Facebook. On YouTube the video is doing slightly better, clocking up 250,000 views.

The brand is anchoring its campaign around the hashtag #pepsihalftime as part of its sponsorship of the half time show. The campaign appears to be gaining traction as well because it’s the most popular hashtag Pepsi has used in the last few months with over 3,000 people using it.

Phew! I made it! Now it’s time to hand over to Martin and our new intern, Mancel (who’s a true blue millennial so only has Snapchat and hasn’t ever used Twitter).

23. Skittles

The Skittles Super Bowl ad is what you’d expect from the brand – crazy and funny. Though on Facebook the brand had a low engagement score of 107, there were 7,488 mentions of @Skittles on the Jan 29th because of the #SB50 #SkittlesRainbow contest.The campaign hashtag #SkittlesArt was used 1,083 times. The ad has been viewed 1.4M times on YouTube.

24. Snickers

The ad was seen 2.6M times on YouTube and 993,886 times on Facebook. The hashtag  #EatASnicker was the most user tweeted  hashtags for Snickers among other ‘Game Day’ related hashtags and was used 2,172 times. 

25. Taco Bell

Interestingly, Taco Bell has not shared the ad on their Facebook page yet. They just put out a post with an image and link to preorder their biggest idea yet. TacoBell’s ad has garnered only 176,795 views, however, since it is a non-decodable teaser, the number isn’t too bad. We still don’t know if that makes the commercial a hit or not, but I’m excited to see what the new menu addition is.

26. Mobile Strike

Last year we had Liam Neeson promoting Clash of Clans (with over 100m views, no less). This year we have Arnold Schwarzenegger promoting Mobile Strike. I’ve noticed extensive celebrity tie ups this year in many of the SB50 ads, this was one of the best fits. In less than a week, the action and excitement helped the video cross a million views.

27. Pokemon

While most of the SB50 videos have just about managed to cross the 1 million mark, this video from Pokemon has even crossed the 10 million mark. At the 50th Super Bowl, Pokemon celebrate their 20th anniversary. The video perfectly appeals to their target audience which is why the 13M views comes as no surprise.

28. Intuit Quickbooks (Death Wish Coffee)

Intuit ran a contest called ‘Small Business, Big Game’ and selected 3 finalists who stood the chance to have their advert shown during the Super Bowl. It was coffee brand, Death Wish Coffee which beat all others to be featured. To date, Death Wish Coffee’s video on the QuickBooks channel has 2.2M views while the hashtag #TeamSmallBiz is gaining popularity on Instagram & Twitter.

29. SoFi

SoFi apparently created two videos and uploaded only one, solely because of a cheesy line at the end which received negative feedback from the brand’s followers. SoFi uploaded their video on the 3rd of Feb and has 3,278 views which seems tiny when compared to some of the other commercials. #SoFiGreat is the campaign hashtag that the brand is currently promoting.

30. SunTrust Bank

For this year’s Super Bowl, SunTrust Bank is using their 30 second ad to educate the audience on financial confidence. Interestingly the video has performed better on Facebook with over 184k views which is great given on YouTube it has only been viewed a little over 21,000 times.

31. TurboTax

TurboTax’s ad with James Lipton reminded me of Newcastle Brown Ale’s Anna Kendrick commercial for some reason. Though the brand hasn’t extensively started promoting the campaign on their other social pages, the 1.2 million views on YouTube in just a few days is encouraging.

32. Quicken Loans

#RocketMortgage sounds spectacular if you’re looking to pay monthly installments for your house on the moon, and with that Quicken Loans convey their message in a captivating form to its viewers.  Quicken Loans ad will run on the first half of the game on the 7th of February. This content hasn’t yet been shared on Facebook or Twitter, but it has attracted over 125,000 views on YouTube!

33. Amazon

Amazon is ‘amazing’ us this year with Alec Baldwin as the campaign ambassador and even going to the extent of using #baldwinbowl as their official hashtag. The e-retailer maximized reach by sharing the video on all their social pages before it airs on game day.

And to round out all this analysis is Ranjani, who so desperately wanted to analyze Hyundai’s Ryan Reynolds video but instead got lumped with Liam Neeson.

34. Apartments.com 

Along with the main commercial that has over 1.8M views, the brand has also released three 16 second pre-roll type ads. The campaign hashtag #MovingOnUp has been used over 6,000 times on Twitter. The brand experienced a fan growth rate of 3.2% which is 2x the industry average.

35. Squarespace 

Maybe I expected something else from Key and Peele, but the commercial to me was slightly confusing. However, it seems like that was just my opinion. The brand’s Facebook page saw a 5.9% fan growth rate which is more than 8 times the technology industry average. On Twitter their tweets centered on this campaign has got an engagement score of 1,000!

36. Wix

Wix’s tie up with the soon to be released Kung Fu Panda movie has definitely worked well for the brand considering they’ve crossed a million views in a day! The #startstunning hashtag has been used over 2,000 times on Twitter and even though they’ve only just started posting about the campaign on Facebook, it seems to be gaining attention.

37. Axe

As a true fan of Axe’s ads, my hopes were high for this one and it did not disappoint. The channel was able to grow their subscriber base by 2.7% post the ad release. Beside the 8 million views on YouTube itself, the video posted on Facebook and Twitter garnered thousands of Likes and Retweets.

38. Colgate

In a year when all the Super Bowl ads seem to follow a trend of random humor, the oral hygiene brand’s PSA was refreshing. However the video only has 74,000 views on YouTube and even on Facebook the brand seems to have lost fans. Though they’ve got multiple tweets about the campaign, the tweets haven’t engaged too well.

39. Persil Pro Clean

Though Persil’s video on YouTube only has 10,000 views, their content on Facebook has been engaging well above average. The Facebook post about the video has an engagement score of 950.

40. Marmot

Marmot has only released teasers for their game day ad which have collectively received over 27,000 views. On Instagram, their posts on the campaign have garnered over 1,700 Likes

41. LG Electronics

2.6 milllion views in less than a week and already the most viewed video in the channel – LG has seen a winning video with this one. Sticking to what I assume is the theme of the year, the video is bizarre, mysterious and somehow funny. On Twitter, the hashtag #OledIsHere has already been used 32,000 times by the Twitter universe and #ManFromTheFuture 4,000 times. The brand also has a contest to go along with the campaign which has garnered a full engagement of 1,000.

42. PayPal

PayPal’s video has garnered 63,000 views on YouTube and has only brought in 300 new subscribers. The campaign is being promoted on both Facebook and Twitter and has only attracted minimal attention so far.

43. T-Mobile

Of the many SB50 videos this year, this was one of the best. Much like their video with Kim K during Super Bowl 49, this one used Drake and the ironic humor has helped it get over 2 million views. The video on Facebook has over 7.5M views,  87,000 Likes and 22,000 Shares. On Twitter, #YouGoCarriered has been used over 19,000 times

44. NFL

The ‘NFL Babies’ were showcased in this video by NFL. It has already gotten close to 2M views and is now one of the top 15 videos in the channel. Though the campaign wasn’t extended to Facebook or Twitter in any big way, the sports organization posted tons of content about moments from different games on their social pages which engaged the best for them.

And there we have it!

44 ads. Some hits. A couple of misses and more than a few WTFs, which seems to be the theme for the adverts this year. Can you believe Axe has gone all grown up? Did you understand the LG ad? Which one was your favorite? So much data, Sunday is going to be awesome for football fans, but for data nerds like us, analyzing the social media data the Monday after game day is like a little piece of nirvana.

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