Each year, millions of Americans tune in to watch the Super Bowl, which marks one of the biggest advertising opportunities of the year. Last year’s Super Bowl generated $385 million in ad revenue, with a 30-second television ad costing $5 million.
In recent years, social media has played a larger role in the Super Bowl advertising landscape. Brands of all types are taking to Instagram and YouTube to tease their highly anticipated Super Bowl ads in the weeks and days preceding the game. Additionally, many brands are implementing creative, Super Bowl-specific influencer marketing campaigns.
In the following case study, we’ll examine how four top brands leveraged social media influencers of all types and sizes for Super Bowl LII advertising.
During Super Bowl LII, Amazon promoted its smart speaker, the Amazon Echo, as well as its popular AI service, Alexa, through a hilarious TV ad starring four well-known celebrities. No stranger to influencer marketing, Amazon’s marketing strategy consistently leverages influencers to promote its products across social.
In the commercial, Alexa loses her voice and Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos turns to Rebel Wilson (teaser vid, sponsored photo), Cardi B. (teaser vid, sponsored GIF), Gordon Ramsey (teaser vid, sponsored video), and Anthony Hopkins (teaser vid) as substitutes. Each wields an Amazon headset and plays the role of Alexa for various Echo users.
Additionally, Amazon leveraged each celebrity’s influence on Instagram to generate buzz surrounding the commercial and bolster its success. Leading up to the Super Bowl, all four celebrities promoted the commercial through sponsored Instagram posts.
In total, the four celebrities published seven sponsored posts on Instagram, which have garnered over 1.3 million likes and 14,500 comments to date for an overall campaign engagement rate of 5.7%.
One of the celebrities featured in the commercial was Cardi B., an American rapper with nearly 18 million followers on Instagram. In order to promote Amazon’s Super Bowl ad, she published two sponsored Instagram posts, which garnered nearly 1 million engagements (likes and comments) in total.
In the example above, Cardi B. opens an Amazon box to reveal a headset. The video teases Amazon’s Super Bowl spot by showing the date of the Super Bowl, “2/4/18,” at the end.
The ambiguous hints across every celebrity influencers’ sponsored teaser Instagram videos help Amazon peak the curiosity of their fans and entice them to tune in to view the commercial. By capitalizing on each celebrity influencers’ enormous social reach, Amazon effectively generated awareness and anticipation for its 2018 Super Bowl ad.
For its first-ever Super Bowl commercial, American food conglomerate Kraft ran an innovative social media contest. Unlike other brands who highlighted celebrities in their Super Bowl LII commercials, Kraft featured ordinary people in order to emphasize the brand’s wholesome, family-oriented values.
To do so, Kraft invited Instagram and Twitter users to post photos and videos of themselves watching Super Bowl LII for a chance to appear in Kraft’s commercial during the game. To enter, users were instructed to post photos and videos with the hashtags #FamilyGreatly and #KraftEntry between 6:00 a.m. and 8:30 p.m. EST on February 5th, 2018.
The resulting ad, which comprised entirely of photos and videos of families watching the game, positively positioned Kraft as an accessible, family-centered brand interested in connecting with its customers. Spoken phrases in the commercial such as “There is no right way to family” also firmly plant Kraft as a forward-thinking company that promotes diversity and acceptance.
In the days leading up to the Super Bowl, Kraft also partnered with six Instagram influencers to promote the contest. Four of the Instagrammers involved were macro-influencers with over 100,000 followers. The remaining two were micro-influencers with less than 100,000 followers.
Instagram influencer LeJuan James was the largest influencer that Kraft collaborated with to promote the contest. James published one sponsored photo that features himself and friends enjoying the game, which subtly emphasizes that the modern “family” can include friends. Within the caption, he clearly explains the contest rules and encourages his 1.9 million followers to enter.
In comparison to James’ post, this user-generated photo offers another take on the concept of family and features an adorable baby dressed up as a football. Within the commercial, the photo positively associates Kraft with family events and memories.
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Similar to Amazon’s Super Bowl LII TV spot, alcohol brand Michelob ULTRA centered its Super Bowl ad around a well-known celebrity. The commercial follows the fictitious journey of actor Chris Pratt as he learns he’s won the part in an upcoming Michelob ULTRA ad and prepares for the role, only to learn that he’s only been cast as an extra.
To raise additional awareness leading up to the Super Bowl, the beer brand partnered with Pratt and Instagram influencers, the majority of which were micro-influencers. Each of the influencers promoted Michelob ULTRA generally by positioning it as their drink of choice during the game, while Pratt specifically generated excitement for his upcoming Michelob ULTRA Super Bowl ad.
In partnership with Michelob ULTRA, Pratt posted two sponsored Instagram photos. The higher performing of two has garnered more than 900,000 likes and 4,800 comments to date for an impressive engagement rate of 12.8%.
The post announces his role in Michelob ULTRA’s forthcoming Super Bowl ad and includes a humorous caption enticing his fans to tune in to hear him sing about beer.
Fitness and lifestyle Instagrammer Jera Foster-Fell was the largest non-celebrity influencer involved in the campaign. In anticipation of the game, she posted one Instagram photo, which features her standing against two cases of Michelob ULTRA wearing a Philadelphia Eagles jersey.
By aligning the sponsorship with Super Bowl LII, Michelob ULTRA capitalizes on the increased beer consumption that inevitably accompanies the big game. Foster-Fell made a point to engage with a diverse range of consumers by saying, “Who are you rooting for today?! Or are ya just tuning in for the halftime show?” in the caption.
While Pratt’s post served to boost viewership of the Michelob ULTRA Super Bowl commercial specifically, Foster-Fell’s sponsored post effectively promoted Michelob ULTRA beer more generally.
Of the four brands we included in this round-up, Bose is the only one that did not invest in a Super Bowl TV spot. Nevertheless, the consumer electronics brand reached millions of consumers through a heartfelt YouTube video series and Instagram campaign that connected die-hard Eagles and Patriots fans with players on each team.
In the days leading up to Super Bowl LII, Bose created three videos: one showcasing a lifelong Eagles fan, one featuring a die-hard Patriots fan, and a third in which each fan was surprised with two tickets to the game.
Bose recruited 13 Patriot and Eagles players to share clips from the video series on Instagram. Each NFL player utilized the unifying hashtag #FootballFeelings.
As part of the Instagram campaign, Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz published one sponsored video. The clip highlights Eagles superfan Kelly and her father Fran being surprised with Super Bowl tickets and has received more than 58,000 likes and 200 comments to date for an engagement rate of 15.1%.
By sending two hardcore fans to the big game, Bose effectively infused an act of kindness into its Super Bowl marketing campaign and positioned itself as a brand that gives back to consumers. Using the social reach of top Eagles and Patriots players, Bose raised positive brand sentiment amongst millions of fellow fans.