The following is a guest post from Joe Charnitski, director of best practices at customer experience management platform Sprinklr. He has over 10 years experience in social media and digital marketing strategy, execution and analysis both at the agency and brand level, including VH1 and Direct Brands.
The Super Bowl is one of the biggest moments on the American calendar. And the game is only part of the appeal. From high-flying, forward-thinking halftime performances to the most expensive ad spots available – every part of the event is a spectacle.
However, it’s the final part of this – the advertising trends – which executives in the food and wider CPG sectors should pay special attention to now that the Kansas City Chiefs have lifted the trophy. Because while last year’s event became known as the ‘Crypto Bowl’, this year’s advertising theme was considerably different.
If anything, this year’s game was the rebirth of the ‘Snack Bowl’.
Snack brands are spending and thinking digital first
The Super Bowl advertising conversation this year grew in volume significantly across social media channels. This year, Sprinklr’s research saw that the social media volume of conversation regarding Super Bowl ads was up 200% compared to last year.
Half of the most engaged with marketing moments this year were from food and beverage brands. From PopCorners widely seen reformation of the “Breaking Bad” cast, Doritos humorous use of Jack Harlow and Missy Elliot or Pepsi’s use of Ben Stiller and Steve Martin – food brands were at the forefront of the advertising push.
At a macro level, this reflects the buying position many consumers are in. Studies have shown that instead of curbing spending entirely, consumers are instead looking to smaller ‘feel good’ purchases. Whether that’s reflected in booming cosmetics sales or in fast food brands earnings strength, there are signs the food and beverage market is once again going to become a crowded advertising space.
It was especially notable during the Super Bowl. And is likely reflective of the branding battle which will play out throughout 2023.
Snack brands turning to TikTok
Traditionally, advertising budgets for the Super Bowl have been allocated toward mid-game broadcast commercials, but this year proved that brands are starting to place a heavier focus off the big screen — and on social media. This year, we’ve seen various snack brands and celebrity partnerships take to TikTok in the form of mini-series, teasers, and all out ad campaigns.
Brands have used digital channels to release their Super Bowl commercials early for years. Now, this same approach was taken to TikTok, with brands releasing content early to generate engagement and kick-off pre-Super Bowl brand buzz, such as Pepsi with its Ben Stiller and Steve Martin ad teasers.This pre-game approach appeared to pay off, with Pepsi Zero Sugar as ninth of the top ten overall ads by brand mention and the second highest brand sentiment behind Avocados From Mexico.
Another way snack brands are using the social media platform to generate engagement is to take an already viral trend and incorporate it into an ad. An example of this is Meghan Trainor’s song “Made You Look,” which is already hugely popular on TikTok, being used by Pringles to tap into the popularity to increase engagement around its latest ad.
Of course, every year we look forward to seeing which brand is best positioned to take advantage of a real-time cultural moment to insert themselves into the conversation. Oreo posting during the brief blackout at the Superdome ten years ago is still an inspiration of what’s possible.
And while these can still be scene stealers, what's notable about this year’s winners is that most reflected a ‘longer tail’ content approach and ongoing social media activation. Instead of owning the moment through a singular, perfectly timed message, this year’s winners drove engagement through an ongoing presence. Planning and longevity are becoming more important elements to successful Super Bowl spots.
What does this mean for 2023?
TikTok is going to continue to influence the tone of ads, social engagements and product decisions that brands make — especially in the food and beverage sector.
We're seeing more creators being given sponsorship opportunities with large brands. For example, TikTok influencer Chef Pii has a Pink Sauce that’s now sold in Walmart stores. I expect more brands to produce these creator partnerships for products and events in the future.
Although brands aren’t necessarily decreasing marketing spend, they are more conscious of everything that can be achieved with that spend. For snack brands, that means starting an ongoing relationship with buyers. The most successful Super Bowl ads maintained a conservation with buyers in the weeks prior to the event. Which also made their traditional TV ad spots pop during that game.
These social first approaches to marketing — especially around key ‘events’ — are likely a trend we’re seeing truly take off. And TikTok may be the most immediate platform we see this investment take shape. Thinking about how marketing approaches can incorporate an ongoing social presence will be key for 2023, especially when fighting for brand visibility in a crowded sector.
The “Breaking Bad” reunion that PopCorners put together was far and away the most talked about food-related commercial going into the weekend and after the game itself. Sprinklr research found that over 28,000 people talking about the Super Bowl online also mentioned the PopCorners ad.
A lesson to take from PopCorners is that a digital-first strategy always wins. PopCorners heavily relied on social media before, during and after the Super Bowl to generate buzz for their ad featuring “Breaking Bad” actors. From Dunkin to Pepsi to Avocados from Mexico, the food Super Bowl commercials seem to get better each year and competition to break through the online chatter is growing. Generating early excitement on social media is only going to become more important for brands to win the Super Bowl commercial competition, and I’m sure we can expect many more social-first strategies next year.