According to Merkle’s 2017 Digital Bowl Report, T-Mobile grabbed top spot for most effective Super Bowl ad campaigns across digital channels including social media, paid search, SEO, and digital media/display.
Merkle, a global performance marketing agency, asserts that T-Mobile in particular excelled in the areas of social media, display, and paid social advertising. Merkle analysts noted T-Mobile was active across Facebook and Twitter throughout the night, engaged users in English and Spanish, and was the only brand to request user-generated content during the game. Following its broadcast ad with Justin Bieber showcasing the history of touchdown dances, viewers across all media were encouraged to upload their own best dance moves in real time via #UnlimitedMoves with a chance to be retweeted by Bieber.
T-Mobile and Sprint also amped up the wireless giant battle, joining in some corporate Twitter smacktalk, bashing Verizon and taking humorous shots at each other, armed with commercially produced video attack and parry tweets. Be prepared indeed!
To crown its Social Media winner, Merkle looked for:
- Real-time audience engagement with calls to action and personal, authentic responses
- Super Bowl-specific hashtag(s) employed and used in commercial spots and in real-time engagement
- Content designed around the TV ad/game that supported the brand in real time
However, if we view Social Media through a lens of human connectivity, are T-Mobile’s interactions dialogue generators or noise?
While Airbnb did not hit Merkle’s top 10, the community-driven rental company purchased Superbowl air time to run their #weaccept ad, a commercial spot featuring diverse peoples and a call for acceptance. The ad was created in just three days, building on the protest of the President’s recent selective immigration ban.
In a tandem social media campaign, Airbnb pledged to help people around the world facing displacement, announcing that the “Airbnb community will provide free housing to refugees and those recently barred from entering the US. When we announced this, there was an outpouring of interest from our community, and we were inspired to go bigger.” The global rental organization set a goal to provide short-term housing over the next five years for 100,000 people in need.
Airbnb also acknowledged challenges within their own community that included guest discrimination, noting it was “something that is the very opposite of our values. We know we have work to do and are dedicated to achieving greater acceptance in our community.” The company also announced a donation of $4 million over four years to the International Rescue Committee.
The ad and social media campaign attracted support and immediate response from citizens, politicians, celebrities, and humanitarians worldwide.
In Here Comes Everybody: The Power of Organizing without Organizations, Clay Shirky examines the range of connectivity that social media offers, from individual sharing of information, to individuals in conversation, to collaboration, and ultimately to group formation and collective action where individuals work together to achieve shared goals, where the actions and fate of the group as a whole is a concern to its members.
Given this metric of social media connectivity, I give the win to Airbnb and its community for its use of social media in rallying around displaced people in a tangible way. Their social media effort syncs organization, group, and individuals in dialogue and collective action that would be difficult without the global and immediate reach social media technology can provide. However, it is the “human interruption” in this effort that propels this social media effort beyond the “audience engagement” that Merkle measured, beyond the ad campaign. It was a move to support meaningful human connection, and in the spirit of commercial interests, it also aligned with company values.