As an obedient fan of American Football, on Sunday, February 3rd I sat down and
watched this year’s Super Bowl through to the bitter end, despite the final whistle not
being blown until around 3:45am UK time.
The match had everything you could want from a Super Bowl game (apart from your own
team being in it), and it was a treat for new and old fans alike. The real drama however
came shortly after the start of the second half, when the magnificent New Orleans
Superdome was plunged into darkness.
With the studios powerless and in the dark (literally and metaphorically), and play unable
to continue for over half an hour, what were broadcasters to do? The BBC opted to show a
string of Super Bowl Memories, providing new fans with a near total history of the event.
American broadcasters decided instead to air more of the famous Super Bowl ads.
Companies this year had to shell out up to $4 million for a 30-second long advert, making it slightly pricier than your average motorway billboard. So in theory, an extra 30 minutes of advertising space in the middle of the biggest game of the year should have been a blessing for these companies? Well, that depends on whether anybody was watching.
“#Superbowl” had already been trending on Twitter for some time, but when play was
halted the social media platform really came to life. As statistics from Twitter show, there were over 230,000 Super Bowl tweets being generated per minute during the power cut. Some had come on to share their thoughts on the game so far, others to find out what was going on. Most however were offering their own theories as to what had caused the power outage.
Some suggested that the football gods had intervened to give the team that was losing at
the time (don’t worry, no spoilers here folks!) time to regroup. Others proposed that halftime show act Beyoncé had plugged her hair dryer in, causing a surge. The runaway favourite however was that The Dark Knight Rises villain Bane had cut the power, and at any moment was going to make an appearance.
#PowerOutage. Does this mean Bane is about to appear & collapse the stadium??
— The Dark Lord (@Lord_Voldemort7) February 4, 2013
It wasn’t just members of the public that were taking to Twitter during the unscheduled
break however. No more than 20 minutes after the lights went out, cookie company Oreo
tweeted the following picture:
Power out? No problem. twitter.com/Oreo/status/29…
— Oreo Cookie (@Oreo) February 4, 2013
Whichever quick-thinking individual at Oreo HQ who came up with that certainly earned
his pay for the month, as the tweet rapidly gained popularity worldwide. Less than 12
hours after being posted, it had been favourited almost 5,000 times, and retweeted over
For years, getting air time during the Super Bowl has been the ultimate prize for
marketing teams across the US. But has the time come to move on? At just a fraction
of the cost a company could pay for a “promoted trend”, ensuring that their chosen
hashtag sits proudly above #Superbowl on the screens of millions worldwide. Of course,
this applies to more than just American Football. Big events generate a lot of traffic on
social media sites – pre-empt them correctly and you have the potential to generate huge
amounts of interest and traffic towards your brand. You’ll have to hurry though – spots on
Twitter are sold on a first come first served basis.