Game on: Brands tap the power of the fans for Super Bowl Sunday


And then there were two. Sunday’€™s AFC and NFC championship games trimmed the 2013 NFL season down to the remaining teams.

Following a spirited and drama-filled season, the Baltimore Ravens will take on the San Francisco 49ers  for the Lombardi Trophy in Super Bowl XLVII on Feb. 3 at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans.

But enough about the game. Last season, more than 111 million people tuned in to watch the Super Bowl, a number that is almost certain to be rivaled this year. While a great deal of those viewers will watch the game with rooting interest, millions will simply tune in for one thing: the commercials.

In fact, according to a Nielsen survey, 51 percent of people said they watched the Super Bowl for the commercials.

From the usual suspects (Pepsi, Budweiser, Coca-Cola) to some smaller brands vying for a spot on the mainstream radar (Mio, Wonderful Pistachios), sponsors have already lined up to fill the slots during this year’€™s game. CBS, which has the broadcasting rights this year, announced in early January that it sold out nearly all of its ad time for the Super Bowl, with pricing averaging upward of $3.8 million per ad, €”the highest ever for the Super Bowl.

AdAge has a brand-by-brand breakdown of the lineup so far, which it has updated over the course of weeks leading up to the Super Bowl.

Those wishing to get their yearly dose of Bud Light’€™s adored Clydesdales, fret not. As for those looking to see Coca-Cola’€™s cuddly polar bears, well, they will not be making an appearance this year. Instead, though, brands like Coke have utilized crowdsourcing and social media to market their brands during the big game.

“€œThe Crowdsourcing Bowl”€

Football fans and media outlets have already dubbed this year’€™s Super Bowl the “€˜Harbaugh Bowl”€™ after opposing head coaches, and brothers, Jim (San Francisco) and John (Baltimore) Harbaugh. USA Today’€™s marketing reporter Bruce Horovitz instead labeled it The Crowdsourcing Bowl.

“€œSuch opportunities give consumers the illusion that they’re in the driver’s seat,”€ Horovitz wrote. “€œBut the real driver: Advertisers are trying to coax consumers into getting more involved with their brands.”€

Let’€™s face it: brands are coughing up plenty of cash to get in on the action. Alluring interaction and engaging customers and prospects gives brands a good shot at getting more out of their investment. Classic brands such as Pepsi, Pizza Hut, Lincoln, Coca-Cola and Doritos have tapped the power of the fan for their Super Bowl marketing strategies.

1. Pepsi

Arguably the most prominent crowdsourcing campaign will take place at halftime before and during Beyonce’€™s performance at Super Bowl XLVII. Back in December, Pepsi summoned the help of their fans “€œto make this year’€™s Pepsi Super Bowl Halftime Show one of the most memorable and compelling shows ever.”€

Pepsi Crowdsourced Halftime

Fans were encouraged to visit to follow the simple instructions and join in on the action. Fans who wished to participate were asked to follow simple assignments, including the foot tap, the Facebook-inspired self-pucker shot, as well as a jubilant confetti toss.

Pepsi Crowdsourcing Campaign

Pepsi will show the best photos prior to Beyonce’€™s performance. In addition, Pepsi will select 50 participants to win a trip to New Orleans and an on-field ticket for the halftime show.

2. Lincoln Motor Company

First and foremost, it’€™s Lincoln Motor Company, not Ford. Ford’€™s head of social media Scott Monty has said that Lincoln has made a determined effort to rebrand itself from its parent company.  In an attempt to not only further its rebranding effort but revive sales, this year will mark the first time Lincoln will advertise during the Super Bowl, according to Bloomberg.

The brand pegged Late Night host Jimmy Fallon to lead the recharge and “€œSteer the Script,” the title of the marketing campaign. The campaign, which began in early December, solicited tweets from thousands of fans who detailed their “wackiest trip ever.” Lincoln has and continues to select the best tweets for reenactment in a series of scenes for the 60-second spot, which will promote the new Lincoln MKZ.

You can follow the ad’€™s progress and watch exclusive behind-the-scenes videos at

3. Pizza Hut

In what is already among the early favorites, the Pizza Hut “€œHut. Hut. Hut.€ Contest “ is asking fans and backyard quarterbacks alike to submit videos of them bellowing out the infamous cadence, “€œhut, hut, hut.”€

The contest ended on Sunday and offered participants $25,000 in prizes. The ad, which gives “€œthanks for all the shout outs,”€ is genius. Most of us have given our best John Elway or Joe Montana impersonation, calling the signal in the street, backyard or organized gridiron. My guess is that the ad will be talked about aplenty following the game.

Below is a brief mashup highlighting some examples in which the brand is looking for.

4. Doritos

For the seventh consecutive year, Doritos has empowered fans to come up with the ideas for its Super Bowl commercials. This year the brand will air two of five finalists of its crowdsourced “œCrash the Super Bowl“€ marketing campaign.

One of the most memorable ads from 2012 was the Doritos “€œBaby Sling,”€ depicting a Doritos-boasting older brother taken by surprise by grandma and a bungee-soaring baby.

The brand hopes to receive similar reviews this year. Five fan-made commercials (directed by Michael Bay) are up for vote on Facebook, including €œ”Goat 4 Sale,”€ “€œExpress Checkout,” “€œFETCH,”€ “€œRoad Chip,”€ and “€œFashionista Daddy.”€ All five are worth your time.

5. Coca-Cola

Esteemed brand and annual Super Bowl commercial contributor has indeed ditched its polar bears and instead took a different route this season, €”an epic chase through the desert that features three teams competing in a race for a bottle of Coca-Cola.

The winner? That’€™s for you to decide. Coke Chase 2013 was unveiled Tuesday, an ad in which the Bandlanders, Cowboys and Showgirls duke it out in a 60-second spot in the first quarter, according to AdAge. At the end of the commercial, though, the trio finds that what they are chasing is merely a sign. The ad prompts viewers to go online and vote for the winner, which will determine the result in a 30-second commercial slated to air following the game.

Not only has Coke urged fans to decide the ending, they’€™ve also urged fans to “€œsabotage”€ the other teams at For instance, you can sabotage the Showgirls with “€œPizza Love,”€ (Domino’€™s Pizza, that is) resulting in a 19-second detour. Fans are also encouraged to share their engagement on Facebook and Twitter.

What’€™s your favorite idea among the above-mentioned marketing strategies? Are there any others worth mentioning? Share your thoughts in the comment section below.

About The Author:Brandon Koch
Brandon Koch is an Inbound Marketing Specialist at Mainstreethost, a digital marketing agency in Buffalo, N.Y. He writes about a variety of topics, including content marketing, social media, sports and more. Connect with Brandon: Google+ | Twitter | Linkedin