As each year the Superbowl is the occasion for brands to gain attention, their ability to use social media and build upon new user behaviors in their advertisements is becoming critical.

Since Apple’s 1984 commercial, the Superbowl is the annual sport event where advertisers compete to make the best impressions. The 2011 edition held an audience record of 111 millions of viewers, only for the United States. As new technologies emerge and consumer behaviors change, Superbowl is a key opportunity for brands not only to seduce sports fans, but also to show they’re on the cutting edge as far as marketing and advertising goes. Advertising stakes are high, as well as viewers’ expectations. The car industry is particularly offensive during this annual American football mass. This year, General Motors owned brand Chevrolet chose to focus its strategy on social networks and the second-screen to engage users both before and during the game.

A second screen app to catch viewers’ attention during the game

A second part of the Chevrolet campaign is meant to engage users before and during the game, as Chevrolet’s baseline “ Don’t just watch, play along with the Super bowl” suggests. As recent studies showed users use multiple “screens” to engage with a particular piece of content, Chevrolet launched its “Game Time” app – available on the Android Market and Apple’s Appstore – especially for this year’s Superbowl. The goal is to create an interactive experience for users, and also to differentiate themselves from competitors. When they download the app, users receive a unique licence plate number, and will need to closely pay attention to the commercials during the Superbowl: participants with a plate matching the ones displayed in the ads will win prizes from Chevrolet partners – Bridgestone, Motorola and NFL – and Chevrolet cars. Although the concept itself of hiding messages or codes inside an ad to trigger action is far from being new, the use of the second screen shows the brand’s efforts to use new tools and devices. “The more we can bring attention to the commercials — everyone’s, not just ours — the better,” said Joel Ewanick, global chief marketing officer at Goodby in Detroit, in charge of the project. “The app came out of that strategy of getting viewers engaged early.”

Chevrolet embraces social networks

On top of developing their own app, Chevrolet partnered with major social networks. For the past few years, viewers have been abundantly commenting sports games and commercials on Twitter and Facebook. Drawing from this observation, Chevrolet cut a deal with Twitter to be the only advertiser on Twitter’s “Road to the Superbowl”, a page that aggregates feeds concerning the Superbowl. The page tracks tweets mentioning the @Giants or the @Patriots, and those containing players’ names. These analytics are displayed in real-time, and show which team and which players are the most popular on Twitter. Chevrolet is also the only advertiser on USA Today and Facebook’s Admeter, which collects viewers’ votes and ranks the most popular Superbowl ads. Finally, Chevrolet is soon to release an ad on Hulu to complement its social network presence strategy.  

By Sarah Guez
Americas events manager