Brands take the Super Bowl’s second biggest stage: social media

Credit: Getty
Credit: Getty

Brands are seizing on the Super Bowl buzz on social media platforms.

Online platforms may not have the rights to Super Bowl LV, but they’re no doubt going to be huge destinations for fans watching Sunday night’s game.

Social media buys have become a necessary extension for Super Bowl campaigns, as fans increasingly tune out of linear TV and into multiple platforms. 

Twitter has been a key destination for brands and viewers to talk about the game in real time; people watching last year’s Super Bowl were 23% more likely to visit the platform than other social media apps, according to Twitter. 

But other social platforms are also catching the Super Bowl buzz. Snap, for its part, expects 61% of Snapchat users to be active on the app during the game this year, according to a blog post. And advertisers including Verizon are planning campaigns on Twitch, which has become a destination for viewing NFL Games, to reach a younger audience. 

As viewers tune into social media, they’ll be looking for their favorite brands. According to Snap, 64% of users agree that brands make the Super Bowl more fun.  

But unlike the live broadcast, social media isn’t just a stage for the world’s biggest brands. Those who want to capitalize on the Super Bowl buzz now have a number of channels to choose from. 

It’s all fun and games

This year, virtual games and sweepstakes are popular plays among brands trying to reach younger audiences during the game, said Ryan Olivier, senior director at Twitter’s in-house agency Twitter Next. 

“We're going to see a lot of surprises and content that taps into nostalgia,” he said. 

Rocket Mortgage, for instance, is hosting a virtual version of the classic Super Bowl Squares game on Twitter on Feb. 7, giving players the chance to win up to $50,000. And Frank’s RedHot is partnering with influencer David Dobrik and Eli Manning to host a virtual dunk tank on the platform. 

Meanwhile on Twitch, Verizon is hosting live streams all week leading up to the game, where fans can watch NFL players compete in a variety of mini-games they’ve developed with Epic Games specifically within Fortnite. 

Super Squares, a mobile version of the traditional football squares game, will also be livestreaming on Twitch on game day with pro-football player Matt Birk and former ESPN commentator Mike Golic. 

And on Snapchat, M&M’s will be live with an AR filter that uses body-tracking technology to let users dance alongside their favorite M&M characters, and Cheetos’ “Snap to Steal” campaign will gift fans who scan its Super Bowl ad with the Snap camera a free bag of Cheetos Crunch Pop Mix.

It’s all in the tone

Instead of acknowledging the tragedies of the past year, most brands will likely take a light tone on social media during the game.

“In spite of everything happening in the world, people are still looking for that escape in life,” Olivier said. “We anticipate that [the tone] will be a little lighter and not focus on some of the negative things that have happened.” 

Despite tiptoeing around the negative, some brands will still seek to appeal to younger audiences with cause-driven messaging. Chipotle, for example, is focusing its ad on sustainable sourcing practices, and Ford is centering its spot around COVID-19 efforts and PPE in its #FinishStrong campaign. 

While there’s no real recipe for what a brand should do on social media during a big moment like the Super Bowl, staying authentic and tapping into the moment is key. 

“A brand needs to be who they are,” Olivieri said. “That’s usually what resonates best with people: when people know what your brand is all about and you reflect that in your advertising and social presence.” 

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