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