2016 Super Bowl marketing campaigns heavily feature online components

By Elizabeth Crawford

- Last updated on GMT

Ultrasound is one of three finalists in Doritos Crash the Super Bowl contest.
Ultrasound is one of three finalists in Doritos Crash the Super Bowl contest.

Related tags Super bowl

As football teams across America vie for a coveted spot in the upcoming Super Bowl 50, so too are food and beverage makers for a spot on viewers’ big game day party menus. 

For many Americans, the Super Bowl is not just about seeing who will win the football championship, but it also is about enjoying a smorgasbord of snacks and beverages while being entertained by some of the most creative and highly-anticipated ads televised all year.

Most advertisers feel significant pressure to wow audiences with their marketing campaigns, and food and beverage companies have added pressure to also please consumers with bold new flavors and taste experiences, as well as traditional favorites for which consumers are nostalgic.

Getting a jump on game-day competition

Among the many firms rising to meet this challenge is meal kit delivery service Chef’d, which isn’t waiting for game day to advertise. Rather, it teamed with long-established produce powerhouse Bolthouse Farms to create two new kits for the big game, which are being heavily promoted online leading up to the game.

The boxes feature traditional roasted Buffalo wings with Bolthouse Farms Chunky Blue Cheese Yogurt Dressing, an arugula salad with Bolthouse Farms Classic Balsamic Vinaigrette, and for more original twist Bolthouse Farms Watermelon-Mint Lemonade. The boxes also will include one of two signature dishes inspired by Minnesota Vikings Kyle Rudolph and Chad Greenway: Rudolph’s Bratwurst Sandwiches or Greenway’s 4-Hour Pulled Pork Tacos.

The kits, which are available for pre-order through Feb. 8 for $119, are being promoted through a multi-dimensional online campaign that actively seeks to engage consumers beyond hashtags. It includes a head-to-head cook-off competition that can be viewed online in which Rudolph and Greenway will demonstrate their kitchen skills. Viewers also can vote on their favorite meal kit to win prizes, including a tailgating package of their choice for the 2016/17 season.

In addition, the campaign hits the increasingly popular “social good” button by giving a portion of the proceeds from each Big Game Party in a Box ordered to the University of Minnesota Children’s Hospital or Lead the Way Foundation.

Pro athletes play prominently in several campaigns

Like Chef’d, DIGIORNO frozen pizza also taps a professional linebacker to help convince consumers to skip pizza delivery in favor of serving DIGIORNO pizza at their viewing parties.

Green Bay Packers linebacker Clay Matthews serves the pizza to social media celebrities DeStorm Power, Colleen Evans and Ray William Johnson in several videos that highlight how to avoid party fouls.

The campaign lacks some of the overt engagement of Chef’d’s campaign, but by including social media stars in the ads, DIGIORNO will have access to their more than 20 million combined subscribers on Vine and YouTube – helping to further extend its marketing impact.

Online component critical

As these campaigns demonstrate – engaging with consumers online and in social media is an essential component of many Super Bowl campaigns – even by companies that can afford the estimated $5 million price tag to air a 30-second spot during the game.

An old pro at this strategy, which can help companies get the most bang out of their high priced ad placement, is Frito-Lay, which for nine years has hosted Doritos Crash the Super Bowl commercial contest.

The contest offers filmmakers a chance to create a 30-second spot that could broadcast during the big game, along with a cash prize and potential deal with Warner Bros. and DC Entertainment if they win.  The result is 50 ads featuring Doritos which are widely viewed online and voted on in the months leading up to the game, at which point the winner is revealed.

Voters are encouraged to post on social media which ad they think should win – effectively extending the campaign’s reach to even passive consumers.

Hass Avocado Board returns with multifaceted campaign

The Hass Avocado Board is taking a slightly different approach to the contest strategy and promoting its upcoming Super Bowl ad by asking Americans to help it set the world record for the “largest online photo album of people dipping food.”​ People are encouraged to post guacamole dips and dishes on social media with the hashtag #GuacGoal from Jan. 27-Feb. 7.

The multifaceted campaign also includes online party ideas and recipes with avocados from FOODBEAST.

This will be the second time the Hass Avocado Board advertised during the Super Bowl. Its debut last year​ was seen by more than 114 million US viewers and generated more than 1.6 billion earned and paid media impressions in one week, according to the firm.

CBS to air ads online

CBS, which will air the game Feb. 7, also recognized the power of an online component for Super Bowl ads. For the first time this year, the station will simultaneously air the commercials online and on television – sweetening the deal for advertisers and helping to justify the approximately 11% hike over last year’s ad price.

Other food and beverage products to advertise during the 2016 Super Bowl will include: Butterfinger, Snickers, Skittles, Shock Top beer along with Budweiser and Bud Light, Pepsi, Coke and Mountain Dew to name a few. 

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