While some viewers may have believed the mishaps in Snickers' live Super Bowl ad were real, instead of being carefully scripted beforehand, it is clear today that the brand’s companion digital strategy got it right with a focus on driving awareness before the game, building engagement during it and continuing to make an impact in the days immediately after.
The Super Bowl ad, an extension of the brand’s ongoing “You’re Not You When You Go Hungry” campaign, was designed to highlight what can go wrong when people are hungry, with actor Adam Driver setting in motion a series of escalating mistakes during the 30-second spot filmed during the game. Snickers wanted to make as big a splash as possible during one of the most-watched live events of the year, so it also put a big focus on digital, including YouTube teaser ads and a 36-hour live stream. The overall effort helped Snickers generate almost 1.5B impressions, nearly 5 million live streams and 20 million minutes of brand content consumed.
“Digital played a huge role for us, as it has the past several years,” Allison Miazga-Bedrick, Snickers brand director at Mars Inc., told Marketing Dive. “This year we created a live Super Bowl ad, but the 30-second commercial was only part of the equation. We used that as a platform to create over 30 hours of live content that we syndicated through a variety of digital platforms before, during and after the game.
“As more brands look to maximize their Super Bowl investments, I think that digital’s role will continue to evolve,” she said. “Every year, it gets harder and harder to reach consumers. Communicating the way our consumers do – which means having fun with digital content — helps us engage fans both before and after the game.”
Making a splash
Snickers was looking to do something entirely new at the Super Bowl, hoping to build on its previous efforts to make a splash on game day. The live ad was billed as a Super Bowl first, although Ad Age pointed out Schlitz did something similar in 1981.
To maximize reach, Snickers leveraged the excitement in the days before the Feb. 5 game to start a dialog and drive engagement with the brand’s fans across its social media channels.
The strategy includes a series of humorous short YouTube videos previewing the Western-themed live spot.
Also before the game, Snickers hosted a 36-hour live stream on Snickers.com and on the brand’s Facebook page, also with a western theme, featuring celebrity appearances.
Following the game, Snickers released an apology spot, also featuring Driver, to continue the engagement. On social media, the brand pushed a buy-one-get-one-free offer available through Coupons.com.
“Considering the investment and the audience — the largest live audience in television — we always want to make the biggest splash we possibly can through our Super Bowl ad and corresponding integrated campaign,” said Miazga-Bedrick. “Snickers has a history of creating talked about Super Bowl content, so this year we wanted to raise the bar and go where no brand had gone before.”
The Snickers campaign is a good example of how marketers tried to leverage more elaborate storytelling across channels for the recent Super Bowl marketing blitz. For example, P&G's Tide brand built an effort around a stain on commentator Terry Bradshaw's shirt. The strategy involved a @BradshawStain Twitter account that was active only on the day of the game, tweeting as if it were a real person, commenting on Bradshaw's efforts to remove the stain as well as other happenings during the game.
However, marketers are still working out some of the kinks in creating seamless cross-channel experiences. For example, while the Snickers ad aired live on TV immediately after the halftime show, those trying to stream it online were left waiting with dead air for several minutes.
For next year’s game, big brands like Snickers are likely to try to take their cross-channel storytelling efforts to new heights.
“The trick is that you can never rest on your laurels — even if you create a huge splash one year, you need to try and top that the next and that’s what we intend to do next year,” said Miazga-Bedrick.