4 Tactical Super Bowl Calls Better Than Pete Carroll’s (& 1 That Was Just As Bad)

Our snapshot review of sponsor and marketing activity at Super Bowl XLIX highlights four innovative tactics that were cleverer than the Seahawks’ coach’s disastrous final play call and one that was at least as bad (if not worse).


On the positive side there were great play calls in the form of Chevy’s pre-game ‘Spoof Power Outage’, Newcastle Brown Ale’s fiscally responsible ‘Band Of Brands’, McDonald’s loyalty-rewardin’ “Paying With Lovin'” and the post-game Twitter-led campaign extensions from Coca-Cola and T-Mobile.


On the negative side was the high profile error from Papa John’s – what a terrible call.


1: Chevy’s Pre-Game Outage


At the very moment the USA’s biggest TV audience in history was settling down to watch the Super Bowl, Chevrolet’s final pre-game spot faked a TV power outage.


A brave move from the brand and agency BBDO – even for a commercial whose message urged consumers to buy the new Chevy Colorado truck that comes with always-on 4G LTE Wi-Fi streaming.


A clever tactic that both made the most of the moment and leveraged the infamous 2013 Super Bowl power outage (which itself led to an iconic real-time marketing moment from Oreo – see previous case study).



2: Newcastle Brown Ale’s Fiscally Responsible ‘Band of Brands’


Leveraging the usual annual publicity around the cost of a 30-second Super Bowl spot (this year it crept up to a record $4.5m), Newcastle Brown Ale built an alliance of 37 different brands which all squeezed into the one ad.


This approach also cleverly played on the same brand’s notable 2014 Super Bowl ‘If We Had Made It’ ambush campaign which revolved around the idea of what Newcastle would have done if it had been able to afford to buy and make a Super Bowl commercial.


This crazy product placement ambush spoof, developed by Droga5, generated plenty of pre-game interest with a funny online teaser.



The in-game commercial itself was so jam-packed with logos and product placement that it was described by the advertisers as ‘the most fiscally responsible big game ad ever’.



But, considering that one of the companies was a Pittsburgh dentist, one has to question whether the other brands involved actually contributed to the cost?


3: McDonalds ‘Paying With Lovin’


McDonald’s used the Super Bowl as a platform to launch a wider ‘Pay With Love’ initiative.


Linked to its long running ‘Lovin’ It’ strapline, this is a tactic based around not just ‘love’, but more specifically loyalty and reward, the spot spearheads an in-store programme that sees the fast food giant offer random customers that chance to pay with small acts of love and kindness instead of cold cash.



This Leo Burnett campaign was certainly heart-warming, unless, that is, you are someone who is suspicious of associating ‘paying’ with ‘loving’.


4: T-Mobile & Coca-Cola’s Post-Game Twitter Extensions


Proving the point that the Super Bowl isn’t just about the pre-game pre-release, but also about the post-game extension, both Coca-Cola and T-Mobile extended their in-game commercials with post-game Twitter initiatives.


The soft drinks behemoth and agency Wieden + Kennedy stratehced the ‘Spread Happiness’ big idea to combat cyber bullying by offering those who tweeted negative tweets with the #makithappy hashtag exclusive works of ASCII art in return.



While T-Mobile and agency Publicis teamed-up post-game to reward fans linking their Twitter accounts to the ‘Lost Data’ campaign website via supposedly ‘exclusive’ Kim Kardashian selfies (apparently from her vast private selfie library).


This campaign shows that both Kardashian and T-Mobile believe that if someone is going to scandalously leak celebrity nude photos and videos you might as well leverage the interest.



5: Papa John’s Airs Wrong Winners Commercial


NFL sponsor Papa John’s taught a lesson in how not to extend your Super Bowl campaign post-game.


The pizza giant bought the first post-game spot in order to run a straightforward congratulatory commercial featuring on-field highlights footage of the winning team in action.


It created two ads during the game and then, after the Patriots interception and Brady took the knee to seal victory, Papa John’s mistakenly aired the wrong spot and ran the commercial congratulating the Seahawks as Super Bowl champions.



The lesson is how not to extend your sponsorship activation post-game.


And yet, after all the post-game buzz around the error, one inevitably wonders whether it was an accident after all.




Speaking of post-game wondering, after asked yourself what happens to those 100,000 unused pre-printed ‘Back To Back Winners’ T-Shirts, hoodies and hats proclaiming the Seattle Seahawks as XLIX champions?


The answer is that the NFL keeps them sealed in warehouses for a few weeks before working with World Vision and Good360 (a charity that specialises in distributing unused corporate products to those in need) to deliver them to overseas markets where the Super Bowl result is largely irrelevant and the need for clothing is high.



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