Regardless of which team you were rooting for, the outcome of Super Bowl 48 was most likely not what you expected. The number 1 offense versus the number 1 defense sounded pretty intriguing on paper, but few people envisioned the 43-8 thumping that the “Legion of Boom” dished out to the Broncos. The lopsided score undoubtedly caused viewers to tune out in the 4th quarter – maybe even earlier. But those that chose to watch the game in its entirety also got to see one of the best marriages of social media and broadcast television ever. That’s right… #EsuranceSave30.
In the event you haven’t heard, Esurance – the online auto-insurance company – purchased the first ad slot immediately AFTER the game had ended. Obviously, not the most coveted slot in terms of Super Bowl ad buys. So much so that Esurance received a 30% discount on their ad-buy compared to other Super Bowl advertisers. That 30% discount amounts to roughly $1.5M. What did Esurance do with that $1.5M in savings? They’re giving it away, of course. As John Krasinski explained in the commercial – while sitting in front of a coffee table literally made of money – anyone who tweeted using the hashtag #EsuranceSave30 got automatically entered into a contest to win $1.5M. The hashtag was used over 200,000 times… in the first 60 seconds immediately after the commercial aired (nice dramatic ellipsis, right?). According to Nielsen, 1.22 million Twitter users sent out 1.85 million messages using the sweepstakes hashtag, but surely that number has since grown. Prior to running their Super Bowl ad, Esurance had around 9,000 followers on Twitter. As of this writing, they’ve reached over 270,000 followers. Not a bad growth rate.
So who won the $1.5M? That’s still TBD. Esurance is making sure to get as much traction out of this campaign as possible. They’ve asked John Krasinski to announce the winner tonight on “Jimmy Kimmel Live” (I’ve already mentally spent my $1.5M – what about you?). And that’s what makes this campaign so great – how all-encompassing it is. They took a Super Bowl ad-buy and turned it into a social media frenzy, a sweepstakes and – technically – an entirely separate network television event. They went above and beyond what any company has done before and they’ve perfectly integrated television viewership and social media.
But let’s switch gears a little. Aside from the person who actual WINS the $1.5M and aside from the Seattle Seahawks (who don’t NEED an extra $1.5M) – who is the big winner? Esurance? Maybe. That depends exactly how they quantify the success of their campaign. Maybe they wanted to see a certain increase in sales or a certain increase in website traffic or Twitter followers. Maybe they hit those expected numbers, maybe they didn’t. Regardless, I think the bigger winner is Twitter (sorry Facebook). They did nothing other than exist and surely benefited from the Esurance campaign. Twitter had 200,000 people logging into their site within a minute after the spot ran to enter the sweepstakes. That’s 200,000 people in a 60-second timeframe that are logging in, tweeting and seeing other relevant ads and promoted tweets on their feed. Twitter is getting ad revenue because of something Esurance did. In the Super Bowl spot, John Krazinski specifically tells users to tweet #EsuranceSave30. Sure, you can use hashtags on Facebook, but that wasn’t part of the sweepstakes. Twitter was the only means that people had to enter the contest. Big win for Esurance? Maybe. Bigger win for Twitter? Definitely.