This year’s Super Bowl creator-marketing wins that brands should emulate for next year
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Brands choosing to partner with America’s favorite celebrities is almost a bigger tradition than the Super Bowl itself. In the past, we’ve seen ads from Dolly Parton, Timothée Chalamet, and Will Ferrell.
This year, like in previous years, there was no shortage of A-list celebrities placed front and center of the most coveted advertising slots. Celebrities ranged from Serena Williams, Alicia Silverstone, Melissa McCarthy, Bradley Cooper, and John Travolta.
But—here’s the thing. Do you remember any of the brands these celebrities were advertising?
I sure don’t. And I’m not alone. Kristina Monllos, senior marketing editor at Digiday, said, “So far it feels like the [Super Bowl] ads are relying WAY too much on celebs over actual messaging. If people will only remember the celeb and not the brand…Not great, Bob!”
It’s true. The top ad slots shined the spotlight so brightly on celebrities they drowned out the brand. System1 chief customer officer Jon Evans explains why this is a bad move in an AdWeek article by Brittaney Kiefer.
“Super Bowl advertisers will continue to rely on established actors, musicians and athletes to entertain audiences…The simple presence of a celebrity is not enough to create a winning ad and long-lasting brand impact,” said Evans in the article.
When brands treat Super Bowl advertising slots like the Oscars, it not only overshadows the brand, it also ignores a critical message consumers have been shouting at marketers for the past three years.
The message? Ninety percent of consumers trust creators over celebrities, look to creators for product recommendations, and want to see authentic content from their favorite creators instead of celebrities.
This doesn’t mean consumers don’t like celebrities. We love them. (Who doesn’t love Dolly Parton, Serena Williams, and Beyoncé?) It simply means if big brands want to connect with consumers and create a lasting impression, they need to switch it up.
Some brands are ahead of the curve. And this year, we saw more top brands diversify their marketing efforts and invest in creator marketing—either to complement big TV Super Bowl ad slots or to replace them. Let’s take a closer look at five companies that did a great job with their creator marketing leading up to Super Bowl 57.
1. Doritos X @vibin.wit.tay
Trends, dancing, creators, and challenges are the four pillars TikTok is built on, and the fan-favorite snack brand, Doritos, understands this. To kick off its Super Bowl advertising campaign, Doritos partnered with the hilarious TikTok creator, Tay (@vibin.wit.tay). Together, Doritios and Tay created their own dance challenge.
The challenge? The chips brand via Tay asked Tay’s community of 6.2 million loyal followers to share their best “triangle-inspired dance” by January 11th. Then, Doritos pointed to the hilarious dance Tay created as an example. Check it out:
TikTok creator, Angi (@ke.alani.808) was the lucky Doritos contest winner. But, let’s be honest, the real winner was Doritos, the brand that captured nearly 14 billion #DoritosTrianagleTryout trend views and, undoubtedly, new customers.
I’d be curious to know how much Doritos spent on its Triangle Tryout and partnership with Tay and what the ROI looks like compared to its Super Bowl TV slots. (Paging Doritos!)
Either way, there’s a lesson other big brand marketers can learn from the success of this creator partnership: find a creator who matches your brand’s vibe. Then, add your creative spin on TikTok trends, and watch the results pour in.
2. State Farm X Khaby Lame
If you’re a TikTok fan, you’ve probably seen Khabane Lame (@khabylame). He has grown a following by creating funny and completely silent reaction videos. Most of his videos show him reacting to people who dream up complicated ways to handle simple problems. Typically, Khaby silently points out a solution that is so easy, it doesn’t even require words to understand.
State Farm played into this hilarious and wildly popular schtick. In the ad, State Farm employees first suggest incredibly complex commercial ideas that involve aliens, hang gliders, and smoke. Naturally, these ideas make Khaby raise his recognizable and big ol’ skeptical eyebrow.
Khaby then does what he does best.
He silently suggests an alternative and much less complicated advertising idea—let fans come to State Farm by entering an easy competition:
“Win a chance to be in a TikTok with me! All you have to do is 1) guess how many times "State Farm Stadium" could be mentioned during the Big Game in the comments below and 2) follow @jakefromstatefarm to find out who wins!”
Not only does this ad immediately tap into Khaby’s highly-engaged audience of 155 million people, but the ad hits another killer advertising strategy on the head. It encourages ongoing engagement with State Farm by asking customers to watch its Super Bowl commercials, count how many times State Farm is mentioned, and comment on Khaby’s post for a chance to win a special TikTok appearance.
The ad seemed to work well, considering it captured 1.3 million likes, 20K comments from Super Bowl watchers, and one lucky winner.
3. Pringles X Meghan Trainor X Brookie & Jessie
Doritos wasn’t the only popular snack brand to take advantage of creator marketing for its Super Bowl campaign.
Pringles tapped into one of this year’s most popular TikTok trends, the Meghan Trainor “Made You Look” dance, made famous by creators @brookieandjessie.
Pringles hired Trainor for a TV Super Bowl ad where several people—a regular kid, surgeons, judges, and Meghan Trainor—are caught in a precarious and relatable situation. Their hands are stuck in a Pringles can.
To complement the TV ad, Pringles partnered with @brookieandjessie to perform the original “Made You Look” dance on TikTok, only with a small twist. Brookie and Jessie’s hands are also stuck in Pringles cans.
The video received 3.5 million views and the “Stuck In” trend spread like wildfire, with several other TikTok creators making their own “Stuck In” videos.
Additionally, Pringles asked fans to keep their brand top of mind during the big game by watching for “stuck in” moments at the Super Bowl and sharing them on social media.
This campaign does the exact opposite of what marketers complained about with the celebrity ads. Instead of simply promoting a celebrity, it keeps the brand at the forefront of the campaign by relaying a relatable experience (getting a hand stuck in a Pringles can) and leveraging creators for distribution. Smart.
4. PRIME X Logan Paul X KSI
YouTubers KSI and Logan Paul flipped the Super Bowl advertising script this year. Instead of using their fame (notoriety) for another big brand, these creators produced a Super Bowl commercial to promote their own $250 million beverage company.
This is the first year we’ve seen a creator-produced ad occupy a TV ad slot on the biggest advertising day of the year, and it makes a huge statement about how the creative and consumer culture is shifting. The success of Logan Paul, KSI, and PRIME also begs advertisers to pay attention.
Today’s consumers are far more interested in consuming content and buying products from individuals and brands that are real—even when they are highly controversial.
Recent data supports this idea. 86% of consumers say authenticity is critical when deciding which brands they will support. People can throw a lot of criticism about Logan Paul, but being inauthentic is probably not one of them.
For now, it’s unlikely creator brands will overtake the Super Bowl ad slots. Advertising in the Super Bowl requires not only influence—but also capital. But the PRIME ad absolutely marks a time in history that shows how influential creators are and how much consumers are craving content from real people.
5. Campbell’s X Nick “Nickmercs” Kolcheff
Most creator marketing happens in the digital world—and a huge part of the digital world is the gaming community.
This year, Campbell’s partnered with the popular Twitch streamer, Nick “Nickmercs” Kolcheff, to promote its brand to gamers and sports fans.
The campaign, called the Chunky FuelUp Tournament, started during the playoff season and took place in Campbell’s online Chunky Bowl stadium. Streamers were motivated to participate in the tournament by the chance to win tickets to the Super Bowl and other merchandise. Nickmercs’ end of the deal was to livestream the tournament finals on his Twitch channel.
According to Streams Charts, the partnership was a success. Nickmercs’ February 8th livestream saw an average of over 20,000 participants and almost 30,000 gamers at the highest participation point.
DigDay reported Campbell’s partnered directly with Nickmercs, as opposed to his esports organization, FaZe Clan. “As brands like BMW divest from esports orgs, marketers are beginning to realize that they can get better returns — and better value — from individual streamer partnerships instead,” according to the article.
The takeaway is for brands to lean into niche creators—especially when niche creators attract your target audience. Campbell’s knew exactly who to partner with to draw in a community of online gamers who are also sports fans.
Expect to see more creator marketing campaigns moving forward
The choice of several top brands to partner with popular social media creators says a lot about the state of marketing and advertising.
We don't just sit and watch the Super Bowl and twiddle our thumbs. I bet most people had their phone out scrolling through socials while the game was on. And we don't just see an ad on TV and go to the store to buy something—because we're so connected and engaged through our phones, purchases can be instantaneous.
The way forward for big brands and retailers is to partner with creators, leverage their influence, and capture attention from audiences they wouldn’t otherwise reach.