By March 14, 2012 1 Comments

What the 2012 Super Bowl Ads Can Teach Us About Social and Mobile Trends

Super Bowl XLVI taught us three things:

  1. You can’t spell Elite without Eli.
  2. Madonna is still too stubborn to age.
  3. There is a clear divide between brands that have embraced the digital age and those that have chosen to ignore it.

Aside from the game, the most interesting part of the Super Bowl has always been the ads. Everybody has an opinion and a favorite commercial, whether they’re Mad Men or not. Some popular ads include Apple’s 1984 Macintosh ad, the Budweiser frogs, and of course the McDonald’s H-O-R-S-E commercial, starring Michael Jordan and Larry Bird. However clever and memorable these ads may have been, the days have passed when consumers were loyal to a brand simply because of their clever TV commercials. With information traveling at a million miles per tweet, consumers can easily go online to engage in a digital experience that determines whether they become loyal customers or whether they pass on a product, without ever having to leave the comfort of their living rooms. Today, brands are forced to connect with consumers through the digital channel in order to maintain these valued relationships.

Now that we’re in the digital age, this year’s Super Bowl was the perfect venue for brands to flex their digital muscles to connect with a wider audience. During this year’s game, I analyzed all 93 commercials that aired from the scheduled start of the Super Bowl until the MVP was announced, and I was on the lookout for the following criteria:

  1. Did the brand encourage the audience to visit their Facebook page?
  2. Did the brand give a Twitter handle (#….)?
  3. Did the brand encourage the audience to visit their Google+ page?
  4. Did the brand encourage the audience to visit their brand website?
  5. Did the brand encourage the audience to download their mobile app?


Facebook Page Visits

Roughly 15% of the commercials attempted to direct users to their Facebook pages. Bud Light was the winner in this category, airing four commercials that referenced their Facebook page.



Bud Light, again, took this category, with all four of its commercials displaying a Twitter hashtag. GE was a close second with three ads. Audi gets credit for airing a clever commercial centered on the recent vampire craze, and then displaying the Twitter hashtag #SoLongVampires at the end.


Google+ still doesn’t seem to be gaining much traction as no commercials attempted to redirect the audience to their Google+ pages.

Brand Website

Of all the ads, 70% featured the brand’s website, while the other 30% opted out. Among that 30%, 60% of brands opted out of mentioning Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and mobile apps. Coke and Lexus were among the 60% that chose not to redirect the audience to their online experience. Considering their competitors, Pepsi and Audi, were among those that heavily participated in digital messaging, it will be interesting to see how long it takes the former brands to catch on.


Of the 93 commercials, roughly 20% encouraged users to download a mobile or tablet app. Bud Light, Pepsi, and Toyota took it a step further and featured a Shazam icon at the bottom right hand of their commercials, which allowed the audience to tag the audio coming from the commercials. Links were then provided for deeper online content for each brand. Toyota users were redirected to the “Camry Effect” page where they got a chance to win two Camrys, one for the sweepstakes winner and one for a friend.

Prior to the start of the game, 25% of all Super Bowl related searches were performed on a mobile device, according to Google. However, during the game, 40% of all Super Bowl related searches were done on a mobile device. This year’s Super Bowl featured several different marketing strategies, but it is clear that mobile and digital should become an integral portion of a brand’s portfolio.

The clear winner this year for digital messaging was Bud Light. It was the only brand to feature a Facebook callout and a Twitter callout, and their ads also gave the option to download both mobile and tablet apps. gets honorable mention for advertising two different domain names, and for featuring a QBR code in one of their ads that redirected the audience to their website.

24% of brands included a reference to their digital efforts during the Super Bowl, which signifies a change in consciousness. Unfortunately, most brands still found it sufficient to only display their brand’s website at the conclusion of their commercials. As audience engagement with social networks continues to grow, these powerful brands will have to embrace the inclusion of digital in their television campaigns, rather than ignoring it, or else risk losing the loyal customers that made them what they are.

Based on the above analysis, we’d be remiss if we didn’t also take the opportunity to promote our own digital extension. With that in mind, please join the conversation on Twitter, Google+ and Facebook!

About the Author:

Jon Clark is the current SEO Director at Razorfish and has been involved in Internet Marketing since 2005. He is also the current editor of the Razorfish Seach blog. Jon loves coffee, sports and NY. You can follow him on Twitter @jonleeclark or circle him on Google+.

1 Comment on "What the 2012 Super Bowl Ads Can Teach Us About Social and Mobile Trends"

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  1. AJ Schott says:

    I certainly agree that advertising is shifting and social involvement goes a long way, but, I think even those brands ignoring digital (those that can afford the Superbowl ads) are still very effective. Much depends on the intended audience – not everyone is sitting around waiting to engage a brand socially so there is still a fairly large window of opportunity for brands that ignore instead of embrace.

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