The Super Bowl is often described as the biggest branding stage in the world — but not if you’re trying to reach young audiences.
More than half of Gen Zers are unlikely to watch the live broadcast of the Super Bowl on CBS on Feb. 7, according to a recent Morning consult poll. In general, Gen Zers are half as likely as millennials to watch live sports regularly, opting instead for gaming and esports.
So in addition to their multi-million commercial buys during the game, brands also have to seize on the earned media buzz around the event with thumb-stopping campaigns on the platforms where Gen Zers spend their time.
Budweiser, which has opted out of a Super Bowl spot for the first time in 37 years, is running a digital campaign supporting COVID-19 vaccine awareness on social media.
Other brands primarily looking to reach younger audiences, including Frank’s RedHot, DiGiorno and TUMS, are skipping the $5.5 million in-game buy altogether to connect with fans on second screen platforms including Twitter, TikTok and Twitch.
“A lot of [younger] people watching the game aren’t necessarily sports fans,” said Jim Johnson, VP of account planning at digital video platform VDX.tv. “They’re just interested in some of the content surrounding the game. That’s what brands should be focused on.”
As younger audiences divert their attention away from traditional cable, brands are partnering with influencers and creating sweepstakes for users to engage with during the game.
Frank’s RedHot, for example, is partnering with Super Bowl champion Eli Manning and TikTok star David Dobrik to launch “Frank’s RedHot: The Big Pour,” an interactive Twitter challenge. If users tweet the hashtag “#FranksBigPour” 100,000 times, Manning will pour 100 gallons of hot sauce on Dobrik, and Franks will donate $100,000 to Tackle Kids Cancer.
Hahahaha okay I’m down but how bout we donate $100,000 for 100k hashtags!! And then I’ll take a nice little @FranksRedHot sauce bath hahaha #FranksRedHotPartner https://t.co/EDUqPDjeRB
— DAVID DOBRIK (@DavidDobrik) January 25, 2021
Corona Beer, for its part, will call for auditions on Instagram, Twitter or Facebook to temporarily replace Tony Romo as the “Corona Hotline Operator,” with the hashtag #RomoReplacement. Romo will choose his favorite submissions and upload them as “Tony’s Picks.”
“[Younger audiences] want a little bit more than just a leanback passive experience when they’re viewing TV,” Johnson said.
So else is running digital campaigns?
Here’s how other brands are connecting with Gen Z audiences during the Super Bowl.
Building on its 2019 Super Bowl social media campaign , DiGiornio will award fans free pizza if the score reaches the first three digits of pi (3.14) at any point during the game. If the score reaches 3-14 or 14-3, DiGiorno will tweet a link where fans can enter for a chance to win.
Super Squares, a mobile version of the traditional football squares betting game, will host a virtual Super Bowl party on Twitch on Feb. 7, featuring pro-football player Matt Birk and former ESPN commentator Mike Golic. The hosts will play Super Squares with fans during the event, which attempts to break a Guinness World Record for the most people playing the game at once. Players will be prompted to answer in-app questions about TV commercials for a chance to win prizes.
On Feb.1, TUMS is launching a Bingo sweepstakes on Twitter with the hashtag #TUMSBingoSweepstakes. When people tweet about the brand or a “TUMS-worthy” moment, their TUMS bingo cards will automatically populate and enter them for a chance to win up to $55,000 in prizes.