Why the little guy won marketing’s biggest prize

marketing's biggest prize

By Eric Tung, {grow} Community Member

Here in America, we just concluded our biggest marketing sweepstakes, The Super Bowl, where top brands march out their glitziest and most creative advertising. It’s marketing’s biggest prize. All the big players showed up but it might have been a surprise campaign that created the biggest buzz of all. In fact, they didn’t even take out an ad during the big game.

Many people believe a creative ploy from Esurance created the biggest buzz. The company’s voiceover star, John Krasinski, of “The Office” fame, comes out in front of the camera to chat about the company (here is the link).

Here’s why Esurance won the Super Bowl:

1. Real-Time Marketing Win

Drawing a record 111.5 million viewers (Nielsen), and an average $4 million price tag for a 30-second spot, the Super Bowl is the biggest media stage you can compete on. If you’re going to be able to make a sizable splash, you either need an amazing commercial, or some great real-time newsjacking like Oreo in 2013. Esurance combined the two with a quirky, witty ad and helped steer the Super Bowl conversation towards insurance with a $1.5 million giveaway, probably the largest social media giveaway prize I’ve ever seen.

2. Messaging Win

As stated in the ad, Esurance can save customers around 30% – about the same amount the company saved by airing their commercial in the first slot after the Super Bowl. Not only did the company save 30% themselves, but they’re giving the savings back to a lucky winner. Plus, they further extend that messaging over to the hashtag, #EsuranceSave30. Brilliant combination of real-time marketing with the conversation around the price of Super Bowl ads and the savings message they want to drive home.

3. Target Market Win

The contest is a Twitter-based hashtag contest, one entry per hashtag use. This perfectly aligns with their assumed target market: younger drivers more likely to buy a web-based insurance product, and with mobile users who are more likely to both be using Twitter and buying insurance online. You can’t pick a target more appropriate for the company.

4. Trending Hashtag Win

In 2013, Twitter raised the price of a Promoted Trend to $200k per day. If we assume some amount of premium tied to sponsoring the Promoted Trend during the Super Bowl, even 10x regular pricing ($4 million for Super Bowl TV spot / $100k average for regular national TV spots = 40x premium for TV), that gives us around a $2 million possible figure for a Promoted Trend during the Super Bowl. Esurance held the top 1-2 organically trending hashtag positions for 36 hours after the game, resulting in $2-3 million “worth” of Promoted Trend time.

5. Followers Win
Taking a look at Twitterfeed.com, we can see that Esurance’s Twitter account started out the week at a modest 9,844 followers, about 25% of parent-company Allstate at 42,373. By the end of the week, Esurance’s following had increased 2736%, picking up over 250k new followers, with a total following of more than 625% of Allstate’s. Assuming normal promoted accounts on Twitter accruing followers at about $10 a follow during peak bidding times, that amounts to about $2.6 million figure for the new followers obtained.


Will Super Bowl ads always provide ROI and concrete results? No.

Their intended purpose has always been brand awareness and word-of mouth. Esurance achieved this by giving away one of the biggest social media prizes I’ve ever seen during a time when people are already talking about the high price of advertising in the medium, targeting a relevant audience and driving home their savings message. ROI in the form of organically obtaining a trending hashtag and a quarter-million followers is just an added bonus.

By the way, here’s a video of Esurance giving away the $1.5 million dollars!

I’d love to hear your comments about this integrated campaign in the comment section below!

eric t tungEric T. Tung is a social media manager and trainer at BMC Software as well as a social media strategist, blogger and speaker. The postings in this blog belong to Eric and do not necessarily represent the opinions or positions of BMC Software.


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