Super Bowl ads are notoriously expensive. In 2020, 30 seconds set companies back an average of $5.6 million. Understandably, brands spend months planning their Super Bowl spots, using celebrity spokespeople and flashy special effects to capture viewers’ attention.
Reddit took a different approach. Instead of buying a minute or 30 seconds of airtime, the social network purchased just five seconds. What’s more, the spot was conceived, presented, sold and produced in less than a week.
The result? A blink-and-you’ll-miss-it commercial featuring 11 lines of copy for a fraction of a normal Super Bowl time slot. There was no way viewers could begin to process the information flickering on the screen — which was the point. People were compelled to pause, rewind and actually read what we were trying to say, with many viewers posting their efforts on social media.
The campaign’s success was a testament to the power of strategically upending conventional advertising wisdom. Not only did the ad drive more than 90,000 user mentions and a 25% increase in traffic to Reddit, but The New York Times named the commercial the “unlikely winner of Super Bowl LV.”