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When the Lights Went Out, Social Brands Lit Up

Every year, the story is about which brands dominated the Big Game’s ad scene.

This year started the same. Even those of us looking for context in the digital space were fixated on our TVs. Sure, we had Twitter streams on a second screen, but the conversation drivers were those 30-second spots between downs.

Then the lights went out.

When the blackout hit, CBS didn’t have troves of spare ads waiting in the wings, and lets be honest, you can’t just throw together a commercial on the spot. But Twitter? That’s a different story.

According to Twitter’s blog, the power outage drove users to Tweet 231,500 times per minute. This nearly caught the spectacle of Beyonce’s halftime show, which boasted 5.5 million Tweets, and a peak rate of 268,000 Tweets per minute by the end of her show.

Some of the more socially savvy brands mixed it up too.

OreoTwitpicWithin 10 minutes of the power outage, Oreo had a killer, well-polished twitpic. Tide, Audi, Volkswagen USA and several other brands jumped in on the fun too. Calvin Klein even posted a Vine video.

While this may seem like a small bonus when put in context with the audience a game-time TV ad reaches, take into consideration that Oreo’s picture has been retweeted almost 15,000 times, and favorited 5,000.  When you add in all of the blog posts raving about the clever ad this morning, their reach through Twitter rivals that of the TV ad.

The reality that social media allows you to engage at a deeper level is starting to hit home for advertisers in very real ways. We tracked every one of the brands advertising on TV during the game, and looked at their game-time social activity on both Twitter and Facebook. Take a look at what we found.

How Brands Engaged During the Game

chart advertiser post trends V2 - coke callout

Brands were much more active during the game than in the past, and  28 times more than their usual activity during the same amount of time. During the game, the advertising brands posted to Facebook and Twitter a total of 2,624 times.

The large spike was driven mainly from Coca Cola’s auto-response campaign surrounding their ad, who accounted for over half of brand activity during the 4 o’clock hour, where viewers were asked to engage on Facebook and Twitter to decide the ending of their Coke Chase race.  While the spike was driven by outbound Twitter traffic, Coca-Cola only saw 5,623 Twitter engagements during the game. Their main success was on Facebook, where their 13 posts saw 63,051 likes. comments and shares.

Oreo’s blackout campaign led to the highest level of Twitter engagement. The brand saw 43,115 Tweets and retweets during the game. This was in addition to their 30,000 Facebook engagements and groundbreaking Instagram success.

On Facebook, Fast and Furious 6 proved that America loves terrible plot lines and big explosions. The newest installment of the blockbuster franchise saw over 242,000 Facebook engagements.

For a complete look at the social activity of each advertiser, take a look at the chart below. To analyze your own social activity, try one of our free reports.


Kevin Shively

I lead marketing for Simply Measured. Recovering journalist. My team is embarrassed of my hilarious jokes. Firm believer that the best marketers are the best storytellers and the best storytellers use the best data.

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