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February 9th, 2016

How Did that Big Game Content Marketing Turn Out?

Last week I took a look at how three companies – Heinz, Squarespace and 20th Century Fox – were preparing for their “Big Game” spots. In some cases there was a lot of teasing going on while in others there was almost no acknowledgement that something larger scale was coming.

In the immediate aftermath of the game a few different narratives emerged in the press. Variety’s Brian Steinberg felt the ads were small-scale and underwhelming for the biggest advertising event of the year. Sydney Ember at The New York Times felt the ads were a textbook example of playing it safe, with brands sticking to celebrities, animals and so on. There were also plenty of examples of brands creating ads that were meant to play well on TV, social networks viewed on mobile devices and elsewhere.

In terms of actual data on overall trends, only 45% of ads included a hashtag (down from 50% in 2015), 35% included a URL and very few mentioned Twitter or Facebook explicitly, with no ads specially calling out Instagram, YouTube of Snapchat. According to UnionMetrics, Doritos, Budweiser and Mountain Dew were the most Tweeted about ads, showing the power of #PuppyMonkeyBaby. Cision had slightly different data, with Mountain Dew, Doritos and Amazon making up the top three.

The numbers were very different on Facebook, where Hyundai, Budweiser and KFC were the most-viewed ads. Budweiser was the only one of those to also appear on Networked Insight’s list of the ads generating the most positive Twitter comments. Visible Measure’s ranking of the ads accumulating the most video views was topped by Wix.com’s Kung Fu Panda ads, Hyundai’s “The Chase” and Doritos somewhat controversial “Crash the Super Bowl” spot. YouTube of course has its own ranking of both top trending ads and most-searched terms during the game.

So with some general data out of the way, let’s look at what the three companies I previously called out did during and immediately after the game, as well as how their ads were received.


The condiment brand was pretty active on Twitter during the game. It continued to point people to the YouTube video of the full spot and encouraged people to vote for it in the USA Today AdMeter poll. It was also nicely responsive to several people who were asking when the “Meet the Ketchups” spot was going to air, telling them it would be during the 3rd quarter. It also did a bunch of “real-time” efforts such as sharing a turned-over ketchup bottle when there was a turnover in the game. These weren’t produced on-the-fly but seem to be pulled from a stock of images that could be used during the game, though obviously someone – or a team of someones – was paying attention to what was happening. At the beginning of the second quarter Crusoe the Celeb Dachshund “took over” the account, which brought with it some puns, jokes about whether “hike” means “walk-time” and more. Later on, after things had reverted to normal, there were also some fun interactions between other brands like Build-a-Bear, Petco and others who were tweeting at Heinz with dog humor. They also RTd PETA and sent other messages encouraging people to consider adopting a dog, dachshund or any other kind.

heinz meet the ketchups


While it didn’t make anyone’s list of the best or most memorable spots, Steinberg at Variety called it “a memorable entry” whose message won’t exactly subtle. According to Visible Measure’s video charts, this was the ninth most-viewed ad in the lead-up to and final release of the game spot.


Far less active than Heinz was Squarespace. The site building and hosting company pretty much just kept promoting links to the livestream of Lee and Morris’ commentary. There were a few GIFs of either Key or Peele making faces or something, sometimes in reaction to a play in the game itself. There were only about a dozen Tweets between the game starting and ending and none of them included the ad itself or anything about that commercial. The company hasn’t posted at all since Sunday.

squarespace real talk post game

Variety’s Steinberg liked the overall effort of having Key & Peele hosting online commentary but called the ad promoting that effort “a muddled affair,” That sentiment seems to have been shared by Adweek, where the spot was labeled “OK” but which praised the commentary stream. The team at Fortune was more harsh, giving the commercial an F in their roundup. But it ranked highly on a list of companies doing well integrating Instagram marketing with their advertising.

20th Century Fox (For Deadpool)

Also not that active during the game, though the studio was obviously having fun. In one Tweet it put Deadpool masks on an image from Hyundai’s commercial starring Ryan Reynolds. There was also a fun exchange between the movie and Esurance over whether or not Deadpool could enter the sweepstakes the insurance company was running. The anti-hero was ruled ineligible because he appears in the spot, part of the movie’s cross-promotional campaign.

It had been reported the movie would get a Snapchat presence during the game and part of that included a branded photo filter that included a couple different movie-themed overlays people could add to their Snaps.


There were obviously several different approaches taken to in-game commentary and engagement during the game. I’m sure if I looked at five other brand I’d see at least three or four more angles being taken. What’s obvious, though, is that some brands saw “prompt immediate action” as the primary point of their activity while others were going more for generating brand awareness. I’d hazard a guess that the size of the team manning the social media controls during the game also impacted activity quite a bit. As I promised last week, if the situation warrants I’ll come back next week to see if these brands have extended the conversation at all long-term.

About the Author
Chris Thilk works on the Client Services team, part of Voce Connect, developing and executing social media strategy. You can follow him at @christhilk on Twitter.

Filed in Content Marketing, Microblogging

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