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Food brands tap social media for Super Bowl advertising

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Food and beverage companies have always played a role in Super Bowl advertising and this year is no exception. In addition to regulars like Doritos, Coca-Cola, Pepsi and Budweiser, commercials during the big game will include spots for pistachios, Butterfingers, Cheerios and two kinds of Greek yogurt, according to Advertising Age, and this year, companies will also use social media to get in on the game.

One of those brands, Dannon’s Oikos, is back for a second time after sitting out 2013, with a spot that reunites spokesman John Stamos with former “Full House” co-stars Bob Saget and Dave Coulier, and which will also be heavily promoted via its social media channels.

“The 2012 ad was a big hit and helped encourage a lot of Americans to give Greek yogurt and Oikos a try. In 2014, we’re building on our success as the leading maker of yogurt by focusing on the lighter side of the big game with a very entertaining ad for the brand,” said Michael Neuwirth, Dannon’s senior public relations director.

The Oikos ad was crowdsourced by Philadelphia-based Poptent, an agency that lets brands create videos in collaboration with more than 70,000 filmmakers, Neuwirth said. In addition to social media, food trucks and an “experiential activation” in New York City in advance of game day will promote the spot.

While the advertising industry may be in major flux when it comes to advertisers trying to figure out where their budgets will be best spent, plenty of companies are still willing to shell out an estimated $4 million for a 30-second spot. The ability to crowdsource is one way advertisers can use social and digital channels to get more for their money, and the rise of digital video and social media channels have led advertisers to lift the veil of secrecy that used to shroud their game-day spots and build buzz weeks in advance of Super Bowl Sunday.

Frito-Lay has been taking advantage of digital video opportunities since the 2006-2007, when it launched the now annual Crash the Super Bowl contest that invites Doritos fans to make commercials for the chips, lets the public vote online and guarantees that at least one will run during the game.

Oreo made a splash on Twitter when the the lights went out at the New Orleans Super Dome during the game last year, and the success of its “”Power out? No problem. You can still dunk in the dark” tweet may have marked a sea change. The message was re-tweeted more than 16,000 times. “It created this shift on the part of marketers, this mental shift, and they realized you could have a presence around the Super Bowl that has nothing to do with running a 30-second spot,” said Peter Murane, Chairman of Denver-based BrandJuice. “If you’re not a car company or Pepsi or Budweiser, it democratized the Super Bowl as an event.”

No big restaurant chains have made the list of Super Bowl advertisers so far this year, but eateries aren’t likely to sit out that Sunday entirely, say industry experts. For one thing, small restaurants and regional chains have a chance to run less-pricey local spots during the pre-game coverage, says Gene Dillard of Dallas-based food advertising firm FoodWise Group.

“You can do a thing where you appear to be sponsoring the Super Bowl locally and so that’s a way to get some good mileage by association, even if it’s a 10-second local sponsorship,” he said.

In addition to adding value to existing campaigns, social and digital channels can also create value for companies that can’t spring for $4 million 30-second spots during the game, Dillard said. A growing number of TV watchers have a smartphone or tablet in their hands, and game day is likely to be no exception, which means brands have a chance to reach consumers on multiple screens.

One FoodWise client, Mr. Jim’s Pizza, demonstrated the power of multiple screens with TV ads promoting a tax day pizza giveaway for people who signed up to follow the brand on Facebook. Instead of the few hundred the chain expected, the 60-store chain gained about 15,000 new followers.

“There are a lot of chains that are doing things like, if you can predict the half-time score or predict the spread at half-time, you win something. I’ve seen some of that,” he said.

Is your restaurant or food brand planning a campaign to capitalize on Super Bowl Sunday? Tell us about it in the comments.