2014: The Super Bowl of HashTags
There are enough creative directors online right now bloviating over which were the best and worst Super Bowl ads this year and why. I'll spare you my own irrefutable opinion and instead skip to some other high-level takeaways. Super Bowl ads used to be just that: ads. But the best of what we watched yesterday weren't ads; they were fully realized, digitally-driven campaigns, many of which began long before the final two teams were set, and by the time the players took the field, had already been watched, passed-along, praised, or mocked by millions.
Only a few years ago, it was considered a letdown to have seen a Super Bowl ad before the Super Bowl itself. That all changed with VW's "The Force" featuring a pint-sized Darth Vader attempting mind control over the family car. 60 million people watched it before the game. And with that, the game changed.
This year, roughly half the Super Bowl ads that ran were released in advance online. Budweiser's heartstring-tugging horse and doggy love fest "Puppy Love" was the big winner of the sneak peeks, with 30 million views prior to the game. Several other spots, including Bud's "A Hero's Welcome" featuring the homecoming of an actual US soldier, Hyundai's "Nice Ride" featuring a slack-jawed Johnny Galecki, and Sodastream's "Sorry, Coke and Pepsi" featuring the former Mrs. Ryan Reynolds had all garnered millions of online views.
Behind each of these pre-game releases was a well-oiled social media machine charged with getting as many eyeballs onto the spots as possible. So it's no surprise that 60% of the spots included their own unique hashtags in the mad scramble to keep the chatter going. The results here were far more mixed. According to Twitterfall, for instance, only twelve people used Chobani's #HowMatters hashtag in the twelve hours after the Super Bowl, and that included a few who were upset about using a captive bear to sell Greek yogurt. It's one thing to get people to watch a Greek yogurt commercial on YouTube; it's another thing to get them to talk about it.
Unless you're an ad guy like me, who desperately wants people to know what he thinks about Super Bowl ads. So okay, here you go...
Big winners? Budweiser, Radio Shack, Doritos, and hashtags.
Big losers? GoDaddy, Subway (A Chicken-Fritos What?!?), Oikos Greek Yogurt, and anyone who's done with hashtags. Like these guys.