SocialSocial MediaSuper Bowl Ads 2011: Winners and Losers

Super Bowl Ads 2011: Winners and Losers

Interactive marketers review whether any $3 million TV spots successfully tapped social and interactive channels.

Super Bowl 2011 advertisers, for the most part, failed to integrate their TV ads with social channels.

One noteworthy standout on YouTube: Volkswagen’s commercial, “The Force,” which had 15 million views, 72,000 likes, and 13,000 comments by 8 a.m. Monday. BrightWave Marketing CEO Simms Jenkins pointed out that the ad appeared on Facebook 24 hours before the Super Bowl. “Well played on the viral leak which built anticipation and a lot more eyeballs than just during the game,” he said in an e-mail interview.

Conversely, Groupon faced an online backlash with an ad that touched on the troubles in Tibet and moved on to discuss a group-buying deal for Tibetan cuisine in Chicago. Tweeted @devbost: “Dear @Groupon – over a million Tibetans have been killed during Chinese occupation. Your ad wasn’t funny.”

ClickZ asked its Experts contributors to share their favorite Super Bowl ad that included an interactive twist and to identify missed opportunities. Here are excerpts of what they found worked – and didn’t work.

Bryan Eisenberg
Managing partner, Eisenberg Holdings

Advertiser: Best Buy
Why I liked it: While Best Buy’s ad might not have been the most innovative or creative ad in mix; they did a great job leveraging their new Buy Back program with “Beiber Fever” appealing to a target market that they value and that would value keeping pace with changes in current technology. They did a great job keeping the scent or continuity of the ad and messaging across platforms (TV, website, mobile application, Facebook page, and of course Twitter) and it was with Twitter where we saw all the Best Buy and Bieber commentary with Justin Bieber participating in the conversation. Now we’ll wait to see the numbers on how the Best Buy Buy Back program scores.

Dave Evans
Author,”Social Media Marketing: An Hour a Day”

Advertiser: Chrysler
What I liked: Chrylser/ Eminem – “Imported from Detroit.” As soon as the spot aired, it was posted on Twitter (example: aarond22 Aaron De Lucia, “Chrysler and Eminem just delivered best commercial of the night IMHO. #brandbowl”
It was also available on YouTube.
As it ended, my wife turned to me and said “Wow! That gave me chills.”

Liana Evans
Author, “Social Media Marketing: Engaging Strategies for Facebook, Twitter & Other Social Media”

Advertiser: Network Solutions
What I liked it: My favorite “commercial” from the Super Bowl wasn’t even aired during the Super Bowl itself. Network Solutions aired a “mocumentary” featuring Cloris Leachman as “Go Granny.” This commercial hit the point about how silly the GoDaddy commercials are. Not only is the mocumentary poking at the fact that people do not buy domains because of women with large breasts, the whole campaign is integrated through different online marketing channels.
Network Solution’s effort included optimized press releases, an active Twitter account, and descriptions and titles on the video as well as on the page that has the video embedded. Network Solutions did a great job at getting the right message out. I am usually very tolerable with racy ads; I believe that companies need to push the envelope to create distractions and grab attention.

However, after seeing the full Super Bowl commercial on, quite frankly, as a woman I was insulted by this commercial (I never had been before), especially with the CEO emphasizing women’s breasts are important to sell a service or product.

Unfortunately I am not in on their marketing meetings to understand why they took this approach, but this commercial makes it seem that Go Daddy thinks only men buy domain names? Network Solutions did a great job researching the audience and included Lisa Stone from BlogHer to show that the company respects women and realizes it doesn’t take “double Ds” to sell domain names.

Augustine Fou
Group chief digital officer, Omnicom’s Healthcare Consultancy Group

Advertiser: Ford Focus –
Interactive: Five teams driving across America; each team has followers and fans on social networks
What I liked: It gets consumers jazzed up and involved with the teams they are rooting for and following. It creates multiple touch points and followers find out more about the capabilities of the car because they are trying to help their teams win. TV (Super Bowl ad) was used to get customers online, online part keeps people involved and social amplification happens when those people get more people involved.

This is and should be a model of all advertising going forward. It is a great example of integrated marketing that leverages different channels correctly.


Rob Graham
Chief creative technologist, Trainingcraft

Advertiser: Salesforce’s
What I liked: While the ads that ran during Super Bowl XLV won’t make history as being the most innovative lot to come around, there were still a few that rose to the surface as standouts. In pods seemingly dominated by movie trailers and car ads, the commercials that seemed to take fullest advantage of the opportunity the Super Bowl presented were the sponsorship ads for, Salesforce’s Enterprise Social Networking solution. is no stranger to the impact that Super Bowl ads can have on a company’s bottom line. What was most impressive about their ads has less to do with the media a lot to do with the placement. Depicting animated versions of prepubescent Black Eyed Peas band (the Baby Peas) members and Fergie, the ads directly preceded the arrival of the band as the halftime show kicked off and then came back for an encore at the end of the festivities as a perfect tie-in.

Simms Jenkins
CEO, BrightWave Marketing

Missed opportunity: I did find it surprising that no brands had any digital specific value propositions or tangible call to actions leveraging digital’s reach. You would think spending $3 million on an ad, you would at least want to acquire a few million e-mail subscribers, Facebook fans, or Twitter followers. However, traditional media can’t seem to integrate digital more than a simple URL (and only a few did that). A big missed opportunity and one that could hurt some brands in the long term. In a few weeks, very few will remember the ads and continuing that conversation could have provided a longer lift to the awareness and the ability to monetize that media buy.

Erik Qualman
Author, “Socialnomics”
Advertiser: Motorola Mobility Xoom tablet
Why I liked it: If you weren’t quick to notice, there was a great subtle reference at the beginning of the Motorola tablet spot where on the tablet it shows 1984. This is a jab at Apple for their famous 1984 Super Bowl spot when they launched the Macintosh. The drones with the white iPhone ear buds was a great touch. This commercial may have not connected with the majority of the audience, but it hit home with the tech geeks they were going after.

What’s more…
A little too culturally insensitive for my taste – appeared to make light of Tibet’s current plight.

Chevy Facebook status: Pretty straightforward ad describing a cool feature (getting Facebook status updates in your car). I just think they could have done more with it than having a guy with a cheesy mustache hear “best first date…ever.”

TheDaily and got my attention because I didn’t know about them at all.

Probably lost on most, but .co is actually the extension for Colombia. This is partnership that GoDaddy has with the family/company that owns this domain extension since there are essentially no names available on .com.

Tessa Wegert
Interactive media strategist, Enlighten

Advertiser: Audi
Subtle use of social media
What I liked:
Audi positions itself as the manufacturer of luxury vehicles for the alternative consumer, the one who isn’t interested in overt displays of wealth or content to blindly follow the pack. In this sense Audi: Release the Hounds was a successful Super Bowl submission. By quietly relegating competing automaker Mercedes to old man, old luxury status while emphasizing that, through Audi, “Luxury has progressed,” the brand delivers on a long-standing ad promise. It didn’t stray from its refined image in its use of interactive media, either; in fact it took a painstakingly subtle approach.

If you weren’t watching closely you might have missed the #ProgressIs Twitter hashtag that was flashed at the end of the spot. Inconceivable as it may be, as of Sunday night Audi wasn’t running any search ads on the tag. But if consumers do a little digging they’ll unearth a cute Twitter contest in which those who tweet what progress means to them stand to win an Old Luxury prize like dapper evening gloves and the chance to trade up for – you guessed it – the more progressive alternative. The social media contest does a good job of reinforcing the brand message as underscored by the ad, but a feather-light interactive marketing touch may hinder its reach. While Twitter is indeed an appropriate online platform for a self-proclaimed “progressive” brand, it’s risky to assume that all potential buyers will see the hashtag and know what to do next.


Heidi Cohen
President, Riverside Marketing Strategies

Advertiser: Groupon
Why this ad backfired: Intended to be a spoof on the Tibetan situation, Groupon’s Super Bowl ad was a super miscalculation, especially appearing after Kenneth Cole’s Cairo tweet. Despite being number three in the Brand Bowl with 2,533 tweets, Groupon’s ad generated significant negative brand sentiment (-4.3) according to Brand Bowl.

Examine live tweets about the commercial and you’ll see that viewers on Twitter were offended by Groupon’s making fun of the Chinese occupation of Tibet. Immediately they connected Groupon with Kenneth Cole. Far from the social media engagement, Groupon’s marketers hoped for.


Strong crisis management will be needed to help Groupon steer its way through the negative by-products of this ad. Additionally, this most likely will not help Groupon’s declining share relative to LivingSocial and will continue to reduce the gap between and LivingSocial.

Related reading:
Super Bowl Stories Build Super Brands
by Heidi Cohen
Groupon CEO Defends Ads After Social Media Backlash by Christopher Heine

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