How Brands Activated Super Bowl Ads With Athlete and Celebrity Ambassadors

The 2022 Super Bowl ads featured many athlete & celebrity ambassadors on TV & social media. Our deep dive has examples to optimize social media ads with ambassadors during the year.

RamsxBengals players on field - Super Bowl ads athlete ambassadors

This time of year always offers a fresh opportunity to rethink paid ad campaigns. And in particular, how brands can use their megawatt Super Bowl ads with athlete and celebrity ambassadors on social media to connect with their audiences. 

In our social-first and time-shifted era, brands have many more chances than ever to reach beyond live TV and make an impact before, during and after the big game.

Super Bowl LVI hit the ad record books with some 30-second spots going for $7 million. For that investment level, brands quickly realized they needed their commercials to live beyond paid and owned channels.

Background on Social Media Ads for the Big Game

Since social media is now the central consumer connection and brand discovery hub, advertisers built value and ROI this year through the tremendous influence and reach their renowned endorsers have with their large social fanbases. They’re no longer limited to hoping their expensive ads will land when TV audiences are paying attention. And they can think past their own brand’s social orbit.

Forty-five ads were released before game day this year (up from 36 in 2021), and commercials were packed with celebrities and athletes. Brands recognized they could leverage their partnerships with athlete and celebrity brand ambassadors more effectively than through their TV spots alone. Over time, they could activate these partners on social media to significantly expand awareness and stand out with younger fans. 

The ambassadors benefitted as well: They could interact with audiences and sports fans more deeply — and multiple times — with more media on the social platforms where they’re gathering. And they could feature the content formats (like short-form video) they’re demanding now. 

The 2022 Super Bowl social media ad activations offer some key lessons on how advertisers should be thinking about how to optimize their celebrity and athlete brand ambassadors around anchor events and campaigns throughout the year. 

Provide Athlete & Celebrity Ambassadors With Platform-Specific Content 

Planet Fitness understood that the ‘one piece of content for all platforms’ approach doesn’t work. Lindsay Lohan launched her personal TikTok account in time for her Super Bowl ad for the brand, which also provided opportune content for that new channel. She had access to additional clips and formats beyond the TV ad spot to match the environments of her TikTok, Instagram and Twitter channels across multiple days.

@lindsaylohan

#ad The girls that get it, get it. @Planet Fitness #ad

♬ original sound – lindsaylohan

Audiences choose to be active on specific platforms and consume certain content for their own reasons. Those could include a preference for being entertained by short, snackable videos or conversing more deeply with others. As for ambassadors, they’re building their personal brands on the platforms that speak to them, with media that showcases their authentic personalities and supports how they want to engage with their followers there. 

Takeaway

When you’re planning ads with your ambassadors, think strategically. Match the digital content you give them with the social channels they use and how they use them. Create different video ad cuts specifically for their Instagram Stories. Have them ask their followers to pick their ad preference on Twitter. Encourage them to request that fans create their own ad versions on TikTok. 

This varied format and platform approach offers the best chance for your brand to attract and engage your ambassadors’ fans, too. 

Give Audiences Exclusive Social Media Content Beyond the Ad

Booking.com’s first Super Bowl ad marked the kickoff of a multi-week campaign with actor and director Idris Elba at the forefront. The travel site brand’s social efforts around the game included more than just their ad and teaser clips. It also featured some behind-the-scenes, bloopers content shot during filming. Elba shared these various pieces to his Instagram Stories and feed during Super Bowl weekend. 

Idris Elba booking.com on Instagram Stories - Super Bowl ads athlete & celebrity ambassadors

Crypto.com also debuted its first Super Bowl commercial this year. It was a tribute to basketball legend LeBron James’ career, in which he advises his younger self. James featured the ad and a short film about the making of it (produced by his production company) on his social channels. 

This media works because audiences love getting a deeper look at the efforts that go into producing content and what their favorite talent and athletes are doing on set. 

Takeaway

Make good use of those funny extra takes or scenes that didn’t end up in the final ad for your social channels. Show how your team put the commercial together. Or, you can release the director’s extended cut that couldn’t fit the ad slot. 

Shoot Extra Footage With Athlete & Celebrity Ambassadors 

UberEats had a powerful line-up of celebrities, including Trevor Noah, Gwyneth Paltrow, Jennifer Coolidge and Nicholas Braun, hilariously discovering the difference between “Eats” and “Don’t Eats” items in their deliveries. 

These stars took to social media to share the ad before game day and tease it during the event (and they also shared bloopers). The UberEats team optimized their production time with the ambassadors. They shot related clips to capitalize on Valentine’s Day, extending the campaign even further. 

With precise production planning, Netflix also pulled off an epic three-minute trailer promoting its 2022 movie line-up. The fourth-wall-breaking ad featured a cavalcade of stars in character and in scene. Teams captured additional content over several months as the talent shot their projects for the service. The Netflix team promoted the trailer on social media during the game.

Takeaway

To optimize your limited time and production budgets, make sure to plan ahead and get the most out of ambassador shoot days. Use this opportunity to capture ancillary content. Sound bites, b-roll, still shots, additional set-ups, and more are perfect content bits to highlight on social media. 

Maximize Publicity With a Full-Court Ambassador Press

Tonal Systems tapped athlete and company investor Serena Williams to share with the media the story of her involvement with the home fitness brand. She did this in conjunction with promoting her Super Bowl ad campaign for Tonal on her social channels.

As the tennis icon noted in one interview, the company’s “Strength Made Me” campaign spoke to her, with its themes of women’s physical, mental and emotional strength. She promoted variations of the ad on platforms including Twitter and her Instagram Stories and feed. 

Takeaway

The reasons why ambassadors partner with brands are often more powerful than the ad itself.  So, work with your celebrity and athlete partners — even non-celebrity ambassadors — and publicity teams to tell those meaningful stories. They deeply resonate with audiences on social media and beyond. 

Apply These Lessons Beyond Super Bowl Ads 

It’s not just during the Super Bowl when you can put these insights into practice. They’re applicable for any ambassador campaign you execute all year long. 

At Greenfly, we help brands activate ambassadors, advocates and influencers at scale. The Greenfly platform makes it easy to source video and photos and share brand-approved media with all of them – directly on their mobile devices. 

For more ideas on how you can work more effectively with your brand ambassadors, contact our team of experts. And check out our free guide to unlocking the full value of your brand ambassador program. 

 Photo Credit: Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

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