The Super Bowl, hailed by millions to be “the greatest show on Earth”, is also indisputably one of the greatest advertising opportunities on the marketer’s calendar – and the wilier amongst you will no doubt infer the correlation between these two facts.

On February 7 2016, 167 million people tuned in to watch the Denver Broncos drive their way to victory over the Carolina Panthers – not to mention the half-time super-celeb onslaught from none other than Coldplay, Beyoncé and Bruno Mars, who flooded the stage to entertain the masses at the Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, California.

Yes, the Super Bowl is a truly American spectacle beyond spectacles – and, with so many people watching, the television networks can get away with charging extortionate obscene amounts for brands to advertise during the peak times of the event.

In days gone by, this of course meant that Super Bowl ads – which, over time, have managed to earn their own celebrity/cult following in their own right – were the sole reserve of the large corporation with massive marketing budgets.

But, this is the age of the internet, of social media, and – what is most pertinent to observe here – digital marketing. And this of course means that absolutely anyone can piggy back the Super Bowl hype when the time comes and gain for their brand some unrivalled exposure when all eyes are focussed intently on the football (or possibly Beyoncé’s “Bootylicious” body shake). And, what is more, they can do it for FREE.

The Greatest Tweet Of All Time?

It’s at times like these when I like to draw attention to an absolute classic in the world of digital marketing – that magic tweet from @Oreo three years ago during Super Bowl XLVII. If the Super Bowl is the greatest show on Earth, then, for me, this has to be the greatest Tweet of all time.

During that fateful Super Bowl in 2013 between the Baltimore Ravens and San Francisco 49ers, something extraordinary happened – there was a blackout. It lasted a whole 34 minutes shortly after the second half of the game kicked off.

Within minutes, the marketing team behind the legendary Oreo cookie had jumped on this historic moment and produced this magnificent tweet, which I truly believe will be cemented (in white vanilla cream) in the hearts of social media marketers around globe forever more.

Look on all ye and behold!!

Oreo-tweet The Most Shareable Ads Of Super Bowl L, 2016

Absolutely divine.

The Most Shareable Ads Of Super Bowl L, 2016

Ok, as brilliant as the Oreo tweet is, it is a thing of the past. So let’s now look at – and take inspiration from – some of the most shareable branded social media moments from the most recent Super Bowl.

WWE Universe

Much of the underrated side of American Football comes from the strategic positioning of defensive plays throughout the game. However, sometimes the best defence is a strong offence – which is a tactic that certainly wasn’t lost on @WWEUniverse during this year’s Super Bowl. In a rather cheeky tweet, the WWE kindly informed the NFL that the turnout in the Levi’s Stadium wasn’t as great as it could have been:

wwe-universe The Most Shareable Ads Of Super Bowl L, 2016

Doritos

Of course, the Super Bowl wouldn’t be anything without snacks at home and television ads – and this year it was Doritos who came out on top on both counts. In the age of social media – and YouTube in particular – it’s possible to see exactly which brands excel the most in terms of the most popular ad created. All we have to do is see how many times the respective commercials are shared across social media to determine a winner… which was this one:

But, this wasn’t Dorito’s only effort during the match – nor indeed the run up to it. Doritos know how to play the user-generated-content game very well. And so, by ingeniously engaging the Twitter community with an incentive (a year’s supply of Doritos) to create their own Super Bowl/Dorito themed tweets, people at home started hashtagging #Doritos with some very clever promos in order to gain the coveted honourable mention and win the prize.

doritos The Most Shareable Ads Of Super Bowl L, 2016

doritos2 The Most Shareable Ads Of Super Bowl L, 2016

Snickers

A bit of reactive marketing and good ol’ brand rivalry of course didn’t go amiss during the hot contest between the Broncos and the Panthers – you could almost say that the stage was set. And so when Snickers released this (admittedly odd) commercial during the Super Bowl…

Doritos couldn’t help but to make jest of it, using Snicker’s own tagline…

doritos3 The Most Shareable Ads Of Super Bowl L, 2016

… to which @SNICKERS (who obviously didn’t like the attack) made this somewhat churlish reply:

snickers The Most Shareable Ads Of Super Bowl L, 2016

Toyota Vs Mercedes

Other than the football field, competition was not only rife between snack brands – the automobile industry also threw some Hail Marys, called a few audibles and made some serious drives
for the end zone.

Toyota released this fun commercial, advertising their Prius model (of all things) in the guise of a getaway car.

In response, Mercedes-Benz USA (@MBUSA) made the suggestion of a more adequate vehicle…

mercedes The Most Shareable Ads Of Super Bowl L, 2016

Final Word

So there we are – Super Bowl L was definitely a hot-fought contest, though these days it’s the big brands that seem to take the game the most seriously. For me, nothing will ever beat the Oreo tweet of 2013 – but it’s fair to say that marketers have taken inspiration from that definitive cultural moment, as should we all. The next big sporting event is of course the Rio Olympics & Paralympics, and it will of course be great to watch how brands go head to head with one another over that extended period – but it should also be an opportunity for us all to get into the spirit of the games, and bid for our own business’s exposure too.

See you at the start line!!

What other Super Bowl ads caught your eye this year? Let us know in the comments below.