Super Bowl advertisers light up the blackout

Fans and members of the Baltimore Ravens and the San Francisco 49ers wait for power to return in the Superdome during an outage in the second half of the NFL Super Bowl XLVII football game, Sunday, Feb. 3, 2013, in New Orleans.
AP Photo/Gerald Herbert

(Moneywatch) When the lights went out during yesterday's Super Bowl, the lights went on for advertisers sensing an opportunity to take advantage of the long lull in action caused by the power outage.

The 35-minute delay in New Orleans' Superdome just as the players were about to start the second half underscored the growing role of social media in mega-events like the Super Bowl. "It took just four minutes for the first Promoted Tweet to appear against searches for [power outage] on Twitter," wrote official blog, Omid Ashtari, head of sports and entertainment at the microblogging company.

Launched last August, promoted Tweets are paid messages that target people according to their interests.

The blackout was the most popular Super Bowl topic on Twitter last night, with 231,500 tweets per minute on the topic. The next most popular subject was the 108-yard run back of a kick off by the Baltimore Ravens' Jacoby Jones. That got 185,000 tweets per minute.

"We do carry candles," tweeted Walgreens, among the companies and brands that weighed in during the blackout. We also sell lights."

Tide wrote: "We can't get your # blackout, but we can get your stains out." Audi took a shot at rival Mercedes Benz, which owns the naming rights to the Superdome, tweeting, "Sending some LEDs to the @mbusa Superdome right now."

Fashion brand Calvin Klein tweeted a six-second video of a muscular, bare-chested man doing sit ups with the hashtag "Since the lights are still out ..."

Nabisco promoted its Oreo line of cookies with a tweet saying, "Power out? No problem." The accompanying image showed a glowing cookie and the tag-line, "You can still dunk in the dark." It was retweeted 12,000 times according to market researcher Networked Insights.

Being heavily talked about is not always a good thing, of course. Networked Insights found that GoDaddy's ad generated more negative sentiment than any of the other ads.

The half-time show by singer Beyonce was the most talked about topic, with 32 percent of all social media chatter, followed by the Ravens, the 49ers, advertisers and the blackout.

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    Constantine von Hoffman is a freelance writer and writing coach. His work has appeared in outlets such as Harvard Business Review, NPR, Sierra magazine, Brandweek, CIO, The Boston Herald,, CSO, and Boston Magazine.