#Deflategate Becomes A Super Bowl Dry Run For Real-Time Marketers

Maker’s Mark, Krispy Kreme, Miche­lin score wins hop­ping on the #Deflate­gate hash­tag.

Lisa Lacy By Lisa Lacy. Join the discussion » 0 comments

Brands prep­ping for their 2015 real-time Oreo moment in the Super Bowl got an ear­ly treat in the form of #Deflate­gate, the hash­tag spurred by the con­tro­ver­sy sur­round­ing the New Eng­land Patri­ots using under­in­flat­ed foot­balls in their vic­to­ry over the Indi­anapo­lis Colts in the AFC Cham­pi­onship game on Jan­u­ary 18.


While the pre-Super-Bowl con­ver­sa­tion typ­i­cal­ly sur­rounds game and broad­cast ele­ments like play­ers, trash talk, odds in Las Vegas, and ad cam­paigns, the #Deflate­gate hash­tag has snuck into pre-game pub­lic­i­ty this year, which is note­wor­thy because real-time mar­ket­ing for the Super Bowl has now pre­ced­ed the game itself.

#Deflate­gate has essen­tial­ly become a dry run for mar­keters gear­ing them­selves and their social media war rooms up for the game so they can respond in the moment to what­ev­er comes to pass when the New Eng­land Patri­ots face the Seat­tle Sea­hawks in Super Bowl XLIX in Glen­dale, Ari­zona.

It’s called agile mar­ket­ing, respon­sive mar­ket­ing, real-time mar­ket­ing. They are a school [of mar­keters] that say, ‘We want to do what Oreo did,’ and the thing that’s trend­ing is #Deflate­gate,” said Greg Jar­boe, pres­i­dent of inter­net mar­ket­ing ser­vices firm SEO-PR. “All these guys are get­ting ready for what­ev­er it is and have jumped on the same band­wag­on. They’re not just sell­ing in Boston, but the rest of the coun­try. And that’s what’s trending…I’ve been watch­ing Super Bowl com­mer­cials for a lot of years and I don’t remem­ber any lead-up to the big game where there has been an issue like this before.”

The most mem­o­rable moments of Super Bowl XLIX remain to be seen, but the #Deflate­gate buzz remains and the hash­tag con­tin­ued to trend through­out the week­end, thanks in part to addi­tion­al atten­tion in the form of an SNL sketch and relat­ed dig­i­tal assets.


And this inter­est cer­tain­ly hasn’t gone unno­ticed by mar­keters – includ­ing plen­ty that aren’t pay­ing big bucks to adver­tise in the game itself.

Brands React To #Deflategate

Mul­ti­ple brands sim­ply look­ing to pig­gy­back have jumped on the #Deflate­gate band­wag­on to cap­i­tal­ize on the excite­ment tied to both the scan­dal and the Super Bowl. These brands include whiskey brand Maker’s Mark, which scored per­haps the biggest win with its “Always start the game ful­ly filled” tweet that result­ed in 3,800 retweets and 5,600 favorites. 

Dough­nut brand Krispy Kreme, too, received about 3,500 retweets thanks to its “Ours are ful­ly filled!” tweet.


Tire brand Miche­lin tweet­ed, “Infla­tion mat­ters!” to its 60,000 fol­low­ers and received 571 retweets, while gas brand 76 showed who it is root­ing for on Feb­ru­ary 1 in a tweet that said, “Don’t think deflat­ed is a good look for us. Or any­one. #GoSea­hawks.”

Home goods retail­er Bed, Bath & Beyond also chimed in with a link to a recharge­able air pump that spurred about 170 retweets. And the Stat­en Island Yan­kees weighed in with the size of their own balls, gen­er­at­ing 343 retweets.

Mean­while, fab­ric soft­en­er brand Downy and toi­let paper brand Charmin also report­ed­ly had their own #Deflate­gate tweets, but they appeared to have been pulled by Jan­u­ary 25. Jar­boe hypoth­e­sizes the polar­iz­ing issue of #Deflate­gate might have been enough to con­vince these lat­ter two brands to rethink their tweets.

Peo­ple in New Eng­land are offend­ed, but the rest of the coun­try is lov­ing it,” Jar­boe said. “So maybe Charmin and Downy have decid­ed there was no rea­son to hurt their sales in New Eng­land in order to boost them in the rest of the coun­try.”

Past Super Bowl Real-Time Winners

Oreo’s 2013 Super Bowl black­out tweet has become some­thing of the gold stan­dard in real-time mar­ket­ing, gen­er­at­ing more than 15,000 retweets and plen­ty of copy­cat efforts dur­ing big events since.

JCPen­ney had per­haps the most mem­o­rable real-time cam­paign of 2014’s Super Bowl XLVIII with its #Tweet­ing­with­Mit­tens effort that, at least for a lit­tle while, gen­er­at­ed spec­u­la­tion the retail­er was drunk tweet­ing. That spec­u­la­tion in and of itself prompt­ed addi­tion­al real-time efforts from oth­er brands before JCPenney’s big reveal that it was hav­ing trou­ble typ­ing because it was wear­ing Team USA mit­tens.

But despite atten­tion from brands like Dori­tos and Kia, JCPenney’s #Tweet­ing­with­Mit­tens post still only gen­er­at­ed about 3700 retweets, which is a far cry from Oreo’s 2013 suc­cess.


What do you think of #Deflate­gate? Will it be big­ger for real-time mar­keters than any actu­al moments dur­ing the Super Bowl?

Lisa Lacy

Written by Lisa Lacy

Lisa is a senior features writer for Inked. She also previously covered digital marketing for Incisive Media. Her background includes editorial positions at Dow Jones, the Financial Times, the Huffington Post, AOL, Amazon, Hearst, Martha Stewart Living and the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund.

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