Whether you’re a sports nut or not, chances are you have watched a Super Bowl ad a time or two in your life. Prices for these coveted advertising spots typically run into the millions of dollars. Although it’s not likely that most of us will ever be vying for a plug that will reach 90 million potential customers, there is opportunity to learn from successful super bowl campaigns, and get ideas that can be used on a smaller scale to create engaging, viral content. As the Super Bowl looms closer and plans are, no doubt, in full swing for this year’s ads, I wanted to reflect on one of the most successful campaigns of all time.

One of the best examples of a successful Super Bowl campaign I can think of did not actually even air during the Super Bowl itself. The Old Spice Smell Like a Man Campaign was aimed to create Super Bowl impact without actually paying for a Super Bowl spot.

Developed by Portland’s own Wieden + Kennedy known for being over the top, Old Spice’s “Smell Like a Man Campaign” launched just prior to Super Bowl 2010 and became an overnight viral sensation. By incorporating a heavy social component on Twitter, Facebook, Reddit and YouTube and combining it with traditional advertising and memorable content, this became one of the all time most successful campaigns for Proctor and Gamble.

The campaign began on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube just a few days prior to the game. Old Spice invited consumers to submit questions via Twitter and Facebook to be answered personally by the Old Spice Guy.

The campaign’s success was proven in its $1.6 million in sales during a four-week period. Old Spice become the #1 Most Viewed Sponsored YouTube channel with 1.2 billion media impressions and 105 million YouTube views. Old Spice’s social media growth exploded with a 2700% increase in Twitter followers and 800% increase in Facebook fan interactions. According to Nielsen, sales of Old Spice Body Wash rose from 11% to 107% in the following months.

This campaign set new standards for consumer engagement. And by the time the first spot aired on television 24 hours after the Super Bowl, many people just assumed it had debuted during the game, illustrating how cleverly you can leverage timing to gain exposure by association.

What are some of the most memorable Super Bowl campaigns you have seen and how have they inspired you?

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Pam Didner

Posted on

January 22, 2013

Content Marketing, Global Marketing Blog, Marketing Know-Hows