Super Bowl Ads 2012: Winners and Losers

Super Bowl advertisers, for the most part, failed to use their TV spots to creatively promote their brands online.

In days leading up to the Super Bowl, advertisers posted ads in advance on YouTube and Hulu to encourage sharing. In their spots, some advertisers incorporated unique Twitter hash tags into their TV ads such as Bud Light (#MakeItPlatinum), Hulu (#mushymush), and Audi (#SoLongVampires).

“Despite the ‘leaking’ of the ads, most remained plain ol’ TV ads (push message out)” said Augustine Fou, a digital strategist. “Out of all the ads, only one used the much hyped QR code, only six could be considered ‘integrated,'” he said.

As a result, Super Bowl advertisers missed an opportunity to encourage consumers to engage with brands online – whether on social networks or mobile apps, said ClickZ Experts marketing practitioners.

“Surprisingly, close to 25 percent of the ads don’t include any extra information to extend the brand online,” observed Rob Graham, a digital marketing consultant. “These advertisers include Dunkin Donuts, Lexus, and Chevy Sonic. On the other side, a number of advertisers, like Bud Lite, General Electric are using just hash tags while others, like Best Buy and H&M are using both URLs and hash tags.” In addition, he pointed out that some advertisers like and Pepsi used Shazam to connect with online and mobile viewers. In the Pepsi ad, viewers were invited to “unlock” a free video online.

At about 9:30 p.m., Eloqua Chief Privacy Officer Dennis Dayman flagged an ad that mentioned a brand’s Facebook page. “First direct reference to the use of Facebook in what I consider a very cute commercial about…rescued dogs,” Dayman said. “In visiting their page it wasn’t first about beer, but about the cause.” Visit the page.

So who are winners and losers of the Super Bowl of advertising? Here are assessments from interactive marketers and other sources:



This ad recorded the highest number of tweets, according to BrandBowl 2012, a partnership between Salesforce’s Radian 6 and Mullen. And Ace Metrix, which measures TV advertising effectiveness, said this ad tied for first place with the Doritos “Sling Baby” ad.

Chevy Silverado

“It was…interesting that Chevy called out Ford directly in their ad,” Dennis Dayman. What’s more, the campaign continued online today. One Gmail user, for instance, received this text ad: “Super Bowl XLVI Silverado – ‪‪ – Dave Didn’t Survive the 2012 Apocalypse. Will You? Watch here”

Honda: Matthew’s Day Off

YouTube’s rival, Hulu, declared this the most liked ad on its video network.


Digital marketer Augustine Fou said this ad featuring Brazilian model Adriana Lima excelled on four fronts, making it the best Super Bowl ad. The ad: was memorable, included a call to action, integrated well with Teleflora’s online channels, and Lima tweeted a coupon code.

Chrysler’s Half-Time in America

“As with last year from the Jeep/Chrysler brands, the Clint Eastwood spot is brilliant,” said David Daniels, CEO of the Relevancy Group. “So well written. This spot shows that writing matters in marketing and advertising. Eloquent.Think YouTube Channel as your social play.


“A great and beautiful spot that brought everyone’s (over 35) favorite cartoon characters back. My Super Bowl party watches it 3 times and froze frame to check out the details. Well done,” said Andrew Solmssen, managing director of Possible Worldwide, LA.

pizzahut-foursquaresuperbowl2Pizza Hut

In a Foursquare promotion, people who checked in to the big game unlocked a ‘Super Swarm Sunday’ badge. It came with an offer: each receiving the Super Swarm Sunday badge and a “spend $10, get $5 off” deal at Pizza Hut when paying with American Express. As of 6:20pm EST, 175,365 people had checked in (and the number was growing by about 1,000 per minute), observed Gregg Stewart, president, 15miles. By the time the badge closed, a total of 303,445 people had checked in.

McDonald’s Ronald McDonald House

“We all know the product. This makes us like the company with a charitable tie-in. Genius timing, right after the Star Spangled Banner. Helps us make an emotional connection to the company, which all great marketing hopes to do,” said Melinda Krueger, senior marketing consultant with ExactTarget.


Dogs outnumbered just about any other animal, including monkeys (CareerBuilder) and cats. Just ask man’s best friend.



“Samsung’s next step in their Galaxy faux Apple store ads were fun but it seemed that even the actors had a tough time getting excited about a phone with a stylus. ‘A pen?’ they ask. Expect consumers to do the same. This is technology we have graduated from. Don’t bring us back,” said Andrew Solmssen, managing director of Possible Worldwide, LA.


Offline, the auto brand asked its rival, Chevy, to pull its ad, which suggested that Ford owners would not survive the apocalypse, if it strikes on 12-21-2012. By calling out Chevy, Ford called more attention to the ad.

In its analysis of tweets, BrandBowl 2012 found that had the highest number of negative tweets, followed by and Lexus.


The high-end production work in this spot is fitting for a high-end brand like Audi, but is it reaching the right demographic? “The Audi and Pepsi commercials have paid off for me so far but I am a sucker for a laugh,” observed Robin Neifield, CEO of NetPlus Marketing. “Both integrated hash tags but the only people using the #solongvampires tag right now are critical or only interested in the ad, not the car.” Which suggests this ad may be better suited for another demographic: teen fans of Twilight.

Lessons Learned

Simms Jenkins, CEO of Brightwave Marketing, said marketers must overcome their aversion to integrating TV advertising with less flashy approaches, such as email marketing. “While of course many Super Bowl advertisers will include a social call to action, I bet zero will deploy actionable responses towards real estate they actually own where they can continue to market to them, for absurdly less cost than a TV buy during the big game,” he commented before the game.

This story was originally published on February 6, 2012, and comes in at No. 3 on our countdown of the 10 most popular ClickZ news stories of 2012. As ClickZ looks back over the past year, we’re celebrating the best of 2012, as determined by our readers. Enjoy!

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