March 4, 2024

Under the influencer: maximizing big names at the big game

Pat Moynihan

Social Director

Influencers have long been a fixture of any successful social media strategy. But, as the past few Super Bowls have shown us, their impact has grown outside a single marketing channel. From TikTok to TV, these creators are conspicuous, impactful cogs in the global marketing machine.

Now, to answer the question on all our minds, is it worth it? Let’s start with the numbers.

This year’s game was the most watched in history, with a domestic viewership of 123.7 million people and nearly all demos seeing increases, led by women 18-24 (+24% vs. last year’s game) and the total 18-24 age group (+22%). 

These staggering numbers make it easy to think any commercial with any influencer will be a boon for business, but if we look further into who those viewers are, the picture becomes less clear. While more young people watched the game, from a sheer volume perspective, the over-55 age demo (who make up just 7% of TikTok users) still made up the majority of viewers. 

What does all this tell me? One, $7 million is a lot to spend when your target audience may only equate to 3% of the total audience (using the demo of women ages 18-24 as an example). And, to truly make an impact, the TV commercial can not be a standalone piece of creative. An integrated, layered campaign approach that includes additional content shared from the social media channels of both the brand and the influencer is a brand's best bet.

To help illustrate the differences between a successful or unsuccessful approach to utilizing influencers at the Super Bowl, let's look more closely at the work of three brands, two on the positive side and one that missed the mark. 

Dunkin' took a hometown approach, led by Ben Affleck, Tom Brady, J.Lo, and more, which was teased leading up to the game across social channels and then supported in a blitz of behind-the-scenes style content in the week after, was a massive win for the brand. It came in second place in USA Today’s Ad Meter, and the $60 replica tracksuits sold out instantly

CeraVe took a slightly different approach, focused on driving pre-game buzz. The brand partnered with Michael Cera to create unique social-first content while partnering with 450 influencers who created content to add intrigue and mystery to the partnership. The result? CeraVe saw 6 billion impressions from pre-Super Bowl influencer content AND was the fifth most-mentioned brand during the Super Bowl. That’s called a win-win.  

Nerds and their partnership with TikTok creator Addison Rae is an example of a brand and influencer collaboration that misses the mark. Whether the commercial was good or not is beside the point. There was minimal brand support across social media, unlike with Dunkin’ and CeraVe, and Rae only posted one video to boost the campaign. Not the most effective way to employ a social media influencer. 

So, what are the final takeaways? 

First and foremost, a brand must work with partners who offer an authentic connection to the product or message. Whether it’s a TV spot or a TikTok video, an audience can always tell what’s real and what’s a cash grab. Next, like with Dunkin’ and CeraVe, brands can no longer think of the Super Bowl as a one-day event but rather a weeks-long content push that maximizes impressions and impact. Lastly, if you are a brand spending millions on a commercial and influencer partners, build into the contract that they’re on the hook for more than one post – truly integrating the influencer into your brand activations adds authenticity your audience will appreciate. Trust us, your audience knows a gimmicky one-time payout when they see one. If your creator isn’t down to put their all behind the partnership, it may be best to look elsewhere.

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