The Digiday Super Bowl 2015 blog: As it happened


Welcome to Digiday’s weekend-long coverage of the 2015 Super Bowl, played Sunday evening in Phoenix, Arizona. Following are our updates on everything but the football itself. This is your one-stop-shop for real-time marketing hits and misses as well as news on all the sideshows — the “other” Bowls that feature puppies, wings and scantily-clad women.

Starting from the pre-game show all the way until after the game’s been decided, we evaluated the best and worst brand moments on Twitter, Facebook, Vine, Instagram and Snapchat. We’ve especially kept an eye on the record-number of virgin marketers who will be making their first game-day appearances this year.

Our live-blog attempted to note the more interesting brand moves, starting on Saturday and on through the game on Sunday. Read on for a reverse-chronological review of the game that was. Check back later today for a breakdown of the game’s off-field winners and losers.

Post game

This isn’t brand-on-brand action, more like CEO-on-CEO trolling. Infamously brazen T-Mobile chief John Legere is using the Super Bowl to publicly criticize Sprint CEO Marcelo Claure, while defending T-Mobile’s newest endorser Kim Kardashian.

Grade: B-   10:36 p.m. Virgin America Virgin American retweeted this consumer praise, so while it’s not a brand tweet per se, it’s still an undisputed win for the brand (and, apparently, the passenger).

Grade: B+

Unlike Twitter and Snapchat, Facebook did not add much to the Super Bowl viewing experience. The social network’s special Super Bowl page was decidedly stagnant. Other than the live feed portion — which was hidden below the fold — the page did not change in real-time. Twitter again proved it was the superior addendum to a live, breaking news event.

Grade: D

10:25 p.m.
Good on you, Sherwin-Williams, for differentiating by looking ahead to Groundhog Day tomorrow. Extra credit for not going for an obvious Bill Murray reference.

Grade: B+ 10:23 Snapchat 2015-02-01 (2)Snapchat surprised usuers by not curating Super Bowl-related images and videos from its users as a Snapchat Story about the game. The messaging app did take the Super Bowl as an opportunity to showcase its new Discover feature, however. Snapchat turned a poem from Houston Texans running back Arian Foster into a short film called “Where We Dwell” and distributed it to users through Discover on Sunday. Granted we’re suckers for motivational sports films, but this was well done, and Snapchat again proves itself a worthy second-screen experience. Grade: A 10:11 p.m. The NFL No brand is on display more during the Super Bowl than the NFL itself. And as entertaining as the game was, it was certainly a less-than-stellar day for the league. For one, the NFL’s lingering concussion problem reared its battered head twice on Sunday, once when Seattle Seahawks defensive end Cliff Avril had to leave the game with a concussion in the third quarter, and again when New England Patriots wide receiver Julian Edelman suffered a big hit and seemed to act concussed throughout the remainder of the game. The fight at the end of the game only acted to reinforce the NFL’s image as employing players who are violent beyond the bounds of the game.

Grade: D

10:07 p.m.
Denny’s catering to the classiest crowd, as usual.

Grade: C   Fourth quarter 10:04 PM Cheerio’s That play just changed the game. And Cheerios nailed the look on our faces. Move over, Oreo.

Grade: A

9:59 p.m.
So far, it seems like sentimentality is winning the day. Ad analytics firm Ace Metrix has announced that McDonald’s “Pay with Lovin'” ad, which suggested customers could get their meal for free if they paid with a fist bump or a hug, is one of the Super Bowl’s top-scoring ads tonight. Ace scores ad based on a range of dimensions including likeability and engagement. 9:54 p.m. Doritos Doritos sprinkled nuclear-orange spice dust all over Victoria’s Secret Super Bowl ad. Our secret? We kinda liked it.

Grade: A- 9:46 p.m. … Touchdown! 50 Shades of Gray If this Super Bowl taught us anything, it’s that dads are special or something. So. Enjoy explaining BDSM to your 8 year-old, dads everywhere. We suppose that’s one way to get your trailer in front of a nation.

Grade: B

9:40 p.m. … NSFW!
Dan Savage
Esteemed Seattle-based sex advice guru Dan Savage never skips #legday, even during the Big Game. Agency execs should really poach this guy. (Ed note: Technically NSFW, but it is pixellated. And jacked.)

Grade: A+++++++ 9:36 p.m. Pepsi Is the Pepsi social team watching this game on DVR? Because the halftime show was a while ago — and this tweet would have been relevant during any half time show ever.

Grade: D+

9:32 p.m.
Loctite Glue
We’re not completely sure what’s going on here. But we are pretty confident that it makes everyone uncomfortable.

Grade: B- 9:29 p.m. TGI Fridays Today’s forced real-time commentary comes to you courtesy of TGI Fridays. For the first time, we’re glad it’s not actually Friday.

Grade: D

9:25 p.m.
The puppy commentators are getting tired. A bit canned, but hey, puppies.

Grade: B 9:21 p.m. McDonald’s The McDonald’s Twitter account is spamming a garbled response to every Super Bowl commercial. Maybe their social media person had one too many McCafé Lattes.

Grade: D+

9:17 p.m.
Church of Scientology
The search for answers is over, you guys. The Church of Scientology has us covered.

Grade: F Third quarter 9:10 p.m. JetBlue There’s been no shortage of brands piggybacking on the female empowerment message of Always’ Like a Girl ad. Hat tip to Jet Blue for its more authentic tweet than most. Double hat tip for handling trolls with aplomb.

Grade: A- 9:09 p.m. Budweiser The self-anointed king of beers has (unwittingly? trollingly?) unleashed a Bud drinkers’ war on craft beer aficionados. In this case, Budweiser is taking the high road, letting its fans do its work for it.

Grade: B 8:58 p.m. Papa John’s The mediocre pizza chain tries hard for timely reaction, but is this the best image they could find? Time to upgrade the mediocre creative team.

Grade: C- 8:52 p.m. … Touchdown! Nationwide Nationwide may be on your side — but are you sure you want it there? The insurer is getting major blowback from its downer of an ad featuring a dead kid. Instant meme. Now everyone is sad. Except Patriots fans?

Grade: D 8:34 p.m. Pornhub Just imagine if Pornhub did its own Super Bowl ads. Actually, don’t imagine. Please don’t imagine.

Grade: B+


8:29 p.m.
This host’s beard is the best part of YouTube’s halftime show. Possibly the whole Super Bowl.
YouTube host beard Grade: D

8:22 p.m.
Meanwhile, on YouTube
YouTube has decided to compete with Katy Perry by throwing a YouTuber in a dunk tank. It’s like NBC is Cirque du Soleil and YouTube is your local carnival. Someone at Google is getting yelled at right now. YouTube dunk tank Grade: F- 8:19 p.m. Tide The only thing messy here is the thought process behind this tweet, Tide.

Grade: D 8:12 p.m. Container Store We’re not convinced that’s how the song goes, storage space company.

Grade: D

Katy Perry
The Half Time headliner probably should have scrubbed her Twitter profile first.

Grade: D Second Quarter 7.58 p.m. Simple Mobile Even small telecom brands can crack big jokes right before half-time.

Grade: B

7:47 p.m. … Touchdown!
Bud Light
Another touchdown, another uninspired sponsor tweet. We can all do better than this. Bring the puppies back.

Grade: C- 7.40 p.m. Peta Not everyone cares it’s game day, McDonald’s, least of all the trollingest of animal rights organizations

Grade: C

7.34 p.m.
The candy man can. But we kinda saw this one coming, to be honest.

Grade: B 7:33 … Touchdown! Orange is the New Black Target demo? Who needs a target demo? The Super Bowl is for everyone. And so is this tweet of wonder.

Grade: A

7.19 p.m.
Capitol Records
We get that you’re getting impatient, but a few more minutes won’t kill you, record company that stands to profit a quadjillion dollars tonight.

Grade: D 7.11 pm … Touchdown! Charmin The reigning king of potty humor, as always, does not fail to entertain.

Grade: A-

7:12 p.m.
Trojan condoms
Sports, followed by steaming up the sheets? We suppose how lucky you get depends on on which team you were on/rooting for.

Grade: B- Party City You can do so much better than that, party company. Lay off the puppies anyway, they belong to Budweiser. #TeamRuff

Grade: D

7:06 p.m.
Yes, it’s the second quarter. And no, nail polish is on nobody’s mind OPI.

Grade: D 7:02 p.m. Weight Watchers The game is flying by, but Weight Watchers’ sense of humor could use a little goose.

Grade: D

First Quarter

The German automaker — which chose to sit out of the game this year — is sure to see a lot of smug people retweeting this bit of shade.

Grade: B McDonald’s Meanwhile, the house that Ronald built is really sucking up to other brands tonight, offering up chances to win stuff that other companies made. Question: Is McDonald’s looking to buy love because nobody wants to buy what Mickey D’s is selling these days?

Grade: C- 6:47 p.m. NBC The network debuted its first-ever Tumblr in honor of the game. You can watch all the ads, but also grab some pretty cool reaction GIFs here. Or you can, you know, watch the game on TV. 6.40 p.m. Hamburger Helper The brand beloved by bros goes the inside-joke route with this tweet about how they’re not advertising during the Super Bowl. We see right through you.

Grade: C

6:32 p.m.

Doritos has been on a bit of a tweetblitz tonight, getting hot-and-heavy with the brand-on-brand action. To be fair, though, the chip company does know how to drum up some love when it comes to real-time marketing.

Grade: B+

6:31 p.m.
Bark Box
And we’re off with some official game action! Puppy eyes always work and make for a nice way to officially kick things off. Nicely done, Bark Box. And for the record, we feel the same way, generally.

Grade: A


6.15 p.m.
16 Handles Yogurt company really wants you to know they’re super hip to all the football controversies. Thanks, yogurt, company

Grade: D 6.04 p.m. The most-recent data from iSpot.TV puts Budweiser at the head of the class when it comes to all online activity about the Super Bowl. The brewer’s puppy-meets-Clydesdales outing has enjoyed almost 7 million online video views — and it hasn’t even played on TV yet. Pepsi is now the official brand advertiser responsible for most of the conversations about the Super Bowl, according to data from Brandwatch. You can track the Brand Bowl live with this handy dandy chart. 6 p.m. Avocados from Mexico And here we have “comedian” George Lopez, answering questions on Twitter about things completely unrelated to the Super Bowl. This service brought to you by Super Bowl first-time advertisers Avocados from Mexico.

Grade: D

5.54 p.m.
Burger King
No clue about what is going on but want to sound like you do? BK, friend of fakers everywhere, has your back. The fast food giant will be tweeting out smart, football-y things for you to say during the game so you sound like you know what you’re on about.

Grade: B 5.10 p.m. Wheat Thins It probably took a ton of effort to create this “Dipscape” out of guac, dips and chips, so expect Wheat Thins to be talking about this all damn game.

Grade: B

5.07 p.m.
Ben Kunz, we have no idea what you’re talking about.

Grade: All the As 4.30 p.m. Kotex Some early brand-on-brand action here. This was a big theme last year. But will Doritos take the Kotex bait? (Ahh, there’s a sentence no one has ever written before.) Also, #periodcravings? Really?

Grade: D

4.20 p.m.
If you need something to read before the game, here’s a brief history of the traffic whoring that is “What time is the Super Bowl?” from The Atlantic. Also, relatedly, this is funny:

4.16 p.m. Macy’s  Cute attempt from Macy’s to drive people to their sports apparel sections before the game starts.

Grade: C

4.08 p.m.
T-Mobile, spamming your users with pictures of Kim Kardashian and her breasts is lazy and pandering, even if she will be appearing in your television ad during the game. (Ed. note: the Digiday editors were not unanimous in the strenuous objection to this tweet.)

Grade: D+ 4.00 p.m. Puppy Bowl Over at the much furrier Bowl game on right now, a cat named Katy Furry performed at Animal Planet’s Puppy Bowl. The sideshow began at 3 p.m. ET Sunday, with replayed set to be played all night. 

3.36 p.m.
An early bit of excitement from the Seahawks Twitter account — minus points for the transparent attempt to get Macklemore to retweet by tagging the singer. We’re pretty sure he prefers the other kind of football anyway.

Grade: C


Itching for something to read before the action starts? Here’s all the stuff you could buy online for $4.5 million, the price of one 30-second Super Bowl TV spot. Or, you could play Katy Perry Halftime Bingo, created by Kate Proulx, senior product designer at Huge.

Brandwatch is charting which brands are winning on Twitter in a live graph they’ll be updating every two minutes once the game kicks off:

Elsewhere in brand land, YouGov BrandIndex has been interviewing 25,000 adults since Jan. 1 to gauge their feelings about an array of advertiser. Turns out automakers and soft-drink brands are already winning the pre-game brand perception race — Toyota and Coke specifically are the companies that evoke the warmest and fuzziest of feelings. But “best improved” brand sentiment goes to Pepsi, which stages the halftime show. The brand has been staging “strange occurrences” (like this “crop circle” in Phoenix) across the country all month.

As for teasers and pre-releases — of which there are plenty — Budweiser’s “Lost Dog,” a tearjerker that features Clydesdales and their lost puppy is killing it online, representing 25 percent of all Super Bowl-related online activity, with 11.6 million views and 406,723 social actions (shares and likes) according to iSpot.

12:00 pm.
Mountain Dew is one of the earlier brand movers on Snapchat. The company will debut Kickstory, a real-time, “fan-driven” Snapchat story at noon E.T. today. Add “MountainDew” as a contact and watch the story unfold. You can then vote for what happens next — screenshot one of two choices and tweet your choice with #Kickstart. The last snap will disappear right before kick-off, on Sunday at 6 p.m. According to a spokesperson, that’s because the brand is “about getting you charged for anything, and in this case, that’s the Super Bowl.”

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