Super Bowl

Nationwide's Shock Value Overshadows Other Brands' Real-Time Super Bowl Bids

Video, Memes and McDonald's Seize Twitter, but No Oreo Moment

By Published on .

One brand dominated the Super Bowl this year -- but probably not the way it imagined.

In the second quarter, Nationwide ran a commercial advertising its "Make Safe Happen" campaign, promoting childhood safety with a depiction of a young boy who dies.

Once aired, the ad prompted a cacophony of responses on social media, many of them critical. Memes were born. "Depressing" and "dark" emerged as terms describing the spot. A headline at Yahoo asked if it was the "worst Super Bowl ad ever."

It was at least the most buzzed-about. The digital marketing technology company Amobee said Nationwide netted over 230,000 social mentions during the game. Nearly two-thirds of those were negative, a quarter were neutral and just 12% were positive.

Budweiser commanded the second-highest interactions, with 48% of them positive. Coca-Cola, Fiat, Doritos and Skittles rounded out the top six most-tweeted brands, according to Amobee.

McDonald's came to Nationwide's aid -- but also everyone else's. Using Twitter's card product, the restaurant chain sent out promotional offers for each fellow Super Bowl advertiser, including Nationwide. Engagement-wise, the tactic appears to have worked -- the offers scored over 5,000 retweets, within 30 minutes, for ads appearing in the fourth quarter. Here's McDonald's on Nationwide's other, far more lighthearted ad, in which Mindy Kaling started to think she was invisible.

The game, while a nail-biter, didn't offer an unexpected hook like the partial stadium blackout two years ago, which helped Oreo generate real-time-marketing envy in other brands. Oreo stayed silent on Sunday night. So did J.C. Penney, whose antics last year led the pack of brands chasing the "Oreo moment" in 2014.

For those that did weigh in, embedded video posts were used often -- although not nearly as much as Twitter, which is pushing the product, would have wanted. Brands that ran TV ads during the game leaned heavily on the short clips on Twitter.

Carl's Jr., the burger chain and fan of sex appeal, handed its Twitter feed over to model Charlotte McKinney, the star of its latest ads, who used short videos to chime in throughout the game. And she interacted with other Twitter users, a common move for brands active during the game.

And as in previous years, brands weighed in on the halftime show.

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