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Why User-Generated Content and Influencer Marketing Stole the Show at the Super Bowl

A football player running with the ball steals the show at the Super Bowl.

Over the last few decades, the Super Bowl has been the gold standard of advertising opportunities for many brands. As one of the year’s most-watched television broadcasts, the Super Bowl has become a massive national holiday.

Besides, the Super Bowl brings something else to the advertising table: people aren’t only willing to see the commercials, they look forward to and expect them.

In this article, we’ll cover how some brands took advantage of this opportunity through leveraging user-generated content (UGC) and influencer marketing

The Pivotal Role of UGC and Influencer Marketing in 2021’s Super Bowl

For 50 years, traditional marketing remained a one-way communication channel. Advertisers would create a newspaper or TV ad and customers would watch it. There was no focus on interaction or building a relationship in between. 

Nowadays, that approach doesn’t work anymore.

With the increasing volume of advertisements and the short attention span of users, brands are facing a huge marketing problem: customers have grown bored of traditional, egocentric ads. 

“There’s so much content online that the Internet has been oversaturated with it. Consumers are becoming more and more demanding, and it seems like nothing can surprise them,” said Wordable author Angela Baker.

The current market wants to feel part of something bigger — a community with shared goals and values. Now customers demand more control and true relationships. How can brands make the shift?

The answer lies in user-generated content. For instance, take a look at this image:

This screen grab comes from Huggies’ “Welcome to the World, Baby” Super Bowl commercial.

During this 30-second spot, Huggies features newborn baby pictures and clips captured by customers and shared with Huggies’ production team. This is the power of user-generated content in action.

By leveraging content created by customers, Huggies was able to tap into the  natural longing for human connection and build a stronger relationship with its audience — one of the major reasons we’re seeing an increasing volume of UGC-based Super Bowl commercials. 

Mountain Dew’s “Major Melon” 30-second spot is another example.

Though this ad doesn’t feature user-generated content the same way Huggies’ does, it does invite users to participate in a brand contest. The commercial claims that the first user to count how many bottles are shown during the spot could win $1 million.

At the end of the video, Mountain Dew encourages users to enter the contest on Twitter — a great idea to create buzz around the event and produce more UGC for future ads.

UGC isn’t the only way to empower users in your marketing; let’s discuss another massive trend in the Super Bowl industry.

The Age of Influencer Marketing

In the marketing classic “Positioning: The Battle for Your Mind,” Al Ries and Jack Trout state:

“To be successful today, you must touch base with reality. And the only reality that counts is what’s already in the prospect’s mind.”

Influencer marketing is one of the greatest ways to associate your brand with what’s going on in your customer’s mind, and Super Bowl advertisers are starting to notice. Take this Super Bowl commercial from Dexcom, a glucose monitoring company. 

This ad features Nick Jonas, a music celebrity with Type 1 diabetes. The ad covers why measuring glucose with a glucometer is now obsolete and then introduces Dexcom devices. By associating their devices with Nick Jonas, the brand is more likely to appeal to younger audiences with diabetes. 

Toyota took the same approach by tapping Jessica Long, a gold medalist paralympic swimmer. 

This spot shares fractions of Jessica’s story and inspires the audience with her strength. Then, it presents Toyota as “a proud partner of the USA team” — a remarkable way to position the brand’s values and capture the attention of swimming fans. 

Other brands that featured influencers and celebrities on their Super Bowl commercials include:

  • Cheetos, featuring Ashton Kutcher and Mila Kunis
  • Uber Eats, tapping Mike Myers, Dana Carvey, and Cardi B.
  • Michelob Ultra, featuring Serena Williams, Peyton Manning, Anthony Davis, and Brooks Koepka
  • Amazon Alexa, featuring Michael B. Jordan
  • ScottsMiracle-Gro, tapping John Travolta, Martha Stewart, and Leslie David Baker

And many others.

Using celebrities in Super Bowl ads isn’t a new concept. But in today’s day and age, influencers of all sizes play a crucial role in people’s lives. By partnering with brand influencers of different sizes that align with your brand values, customers see your brand as more human and relatable.

How to Tap Into These Trends

In the words of Kevin Kessler, “a content production process or workflow lays out who will work on your content (the people), how they’ll work (the process), and what they need to do to produce content effectively (strategies).

In the context of UGC and influencer marketing, you can implement the same approach. The first step is to identify your “who”; which customers are already producing content you could use? And which influencers, from smaller Instagram stars to larger celebrities, have the greatest influence over your audience?

Next, streamline a process for content production. How often will you curate UGC? How will you use that content? What will you offer to influencers? Money, free products, or other kinds of remuneration? 

Finally, design a strategy to produce and promote your content in a cost-effective way. Which channels will you focus on? How will you measure the performance of your campaigns?

Even though UGC and influencer marketing are separate strategies, you can implement them in parallel to feed one another. By applying this strategy, you’ll leverage the same power of the most successful Super Bowl ads.

About the Author

Brad Smith is the CEO at Wordable.io and the Founder of Codeless (a content production agency). His content has been highlighted by The New York Times, Business Insider, The Next Web, and thousands more.

Special thanks to our friends at Pixlee for their insights on this topic.
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