Who Won the Super Bowl from a Brand Perspective?

On Sunday, February 2nd, the Kansas City Chiefs and the San Francisco 49ers took the field at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami for Super Bowl LIV. Millions of fans tuned in from across the United States to watch not only the football game, but the commercials and halftime show, too. All season, these two NFL teams and their players have not only been active on the field, but have been active across their respective social media platforms sharing their stories and those of their partner brands. Hookit’s data provides a snapshot of what brands these two teams and their players on them have been talking about since the beginning of the preseason.

Unsurprisingly, Levi’s was the brand promoted most by the 49ers team and players, with a total of 230 posts from 8 distinct posters (players and the team account). Levi’s has a strong relationship with the team and serves as the sponsor of the 49ers home stadium in Santa Clara, California. Perhaps not surprisingly for a team based in the heart of Silicon Valley, two technology companies round out the top 3 most mentioned brands by the team and players.

On the flip side, Bridgestone was the most promoted brand by the Chiefs on team accounts and by players. It is interesting to note how many more brand mentions the 49ers and their players posted comparative to the Chiefs. While the 49ers had 12 brands with over 25 posts each, the Chiefs only had 4. And zooming out even further, the 49ers mentioned 112 different brands during the course of the season to the Chiefs 61. 

But more important than simply the number of posts is how effective the players and the teams posting the content are at influencing their fans to engage with the partner brands they are showcasing. Looking at the interactions, or likes, shares, and comments on posts, one can see which brands are being presented well by their partner athletes and teams and securing engagement from potential consumers.

Familiar names like Levi’s, Nike and SAP remain on the list (which is to be expected since they are being posted the most) but new brands Zenni Optical and Bose also appear in the top 5 brands with the most engagement on branded posts by the 49ers, knocking out the likes of Cisco and Pepsi. These brands are receiving outsized attention from consumers compared to their frequency of posting, meaning the content associated with these brands is more engaging with fans despite having fewer posts to appeal to them.

The Importance of Engaging Content

A case study in the importance of engagement is offered by contrasting the brands New Era and TicketMaster as promoted by the 49ers team and players.

New Era was only mentioned by the 49ers and players 3 times throughout the season. However, despite having 93% fewer posts, those few posts generated 730% more interactions for New Era than 44 posts did for TicketMaster during the season. 

For Kansas City, only 1 brand, Bose, that was in the top 5 for number of posts remained in the top 5 for most interactions.

Similarly to how New Era was able to receive outsized engagement despite being showcased fewer times by the 49ers, brands like State Farm were presented very well by the Chiefs and their players, while brands like McDonalds were mentioned often, but not with engaging content. Take a look at how they compared.

Despite 92% fewer posts, State Farm received 1300% more interactions than McDonalds. Clearly, the content that State Farm was associated with in those branded posts was much more engaging that the content associated with McDonalds. As a partner, McDonalds could use this data as an example with the Chiefs and their players to coach them and ask to be promoted in a different way.

Looking at the data as a whole, some broader conclusions can be made about the performance of both Super Bowl teams when it comes to their presentation of partnered brands. The 49ers mentioned almost twice as many brands and posted about these brands 554 more times than the Chiefs did. This additional promotion was reflected in total engagement, as the brands mentioned by the 49ers’ had about 12M more engagements than the brands mentioned by the Chiefs’ did. Despite the outcome on the field in Miami, even though the 49ers did not win the Super Bowl, from their partnered brands’ perspectives, they ended the game in victory formation.

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