How social was the Super Bowl 2014?

The most watched American television broadcast took place again yesterday. The best and worst commercials from last night were nominated online and covered the headlines today. If you watched yesterday’s Super Bowl, you might have noticed a few trends taking place off the field. We had a look at how top advertisers used social in their commercials and identified the real winner besides puppies and hashtags. It was not only the most watched Super Bowl with a record of 111.5 million viewers but also the most social one with 24.9 million tweets. Overall, hashtags were used in 58 percent of nationally-run ads, which means an 8 percent increase from last year. Looking at all the tweets, brands decided to use three different hashtag strategies for their Super Bowl commercials this year. They either focused on regular brand hashtags (#VW, #Doritos), created a unique hashtag (Bud Light #UpForWhatever, Honda #hugfest) or jumped on an existing hashtag (Budweiser #BestBud, Go Daddy #LiveYourDream).

Hashtags and Storytelling

We also took a look at some of the other hashtags brands incorporated in their commercials and  noticed another trend: appealing to viewers’ sentimental sides. A few examples: #Connect4Red (Bank of America) #LiveYourDream (GoDaddy) #KissForPeace (Axe) #IfYoureHappy (Heinz Ketchup)

These hashtags are indicative of a much larger shift in storytelling, one that is already well established in the social space. This year’s commercials strayed from the predictable funny/surreal/gross/shocking path and instead veered in a decidedly sweet direction. “Social good” is an increasingly popular trend in online content in the last year, and advertisers are taking note (and taking it seriously, paying around $4 million for a 30-second spot).

Here is a full list of all hashtags used during the Super Bowl, created by Marketingland.

The Winner

But the real winner was not an official sponsor this year. Similar to Oreo’s creative tweet, that won the Super Bowl buzz in 2013, this year JCPenny’s “tweetingwithmittens” grabbed the social media attention.

It all started with two tweets that included multiple typos. After people started to joke around on Twitter, that JCPenney must be drunk while watching the Super Bowl, JCPenney reacted with an official apology and published the hashtag #tweetingwithmittens.


After that, people jumped on it and started responding and retweeting JCPenney's response. The two typo tweets alone counted over 41,000 retweets today. According to TweetReach, 131,000 tweets  went out during the evening using the hashtag #tweetingwithmittens.

JCPenneys Replies

Although it was probably not a on-the-spot improvisation like the Oreo tweet, but the result of a well planned strategy to gain some buzz, we think it was very smart idea and another great example of how a brand can capitalize the Super Bowl noise without spending millions of dollars  in advertising.

Emotional shift

Many sources are attributing the shift in this year’s advertising to its audience and their conversations. Considering that almost one-third of last year’s Super Bowl-related tweets centered on ads, advertisers care who’s watching, who’s talking and what they’re talking about. According to Adweek, Women comprise 46% of Super Bowl viewers but they out-tweet men by 60% and they also hold a 59% majority footing in terms of Twitter users. Since women also influence the majority of consumer spending across all categories, what they’re saying about Super Bowl ads (and how their opinions influence sales) is something advertisers are taking into consideration.

What do you think of this years Super Bowl commercials and their presence on social media?

Title photo source: Flickr MTA Photos