Social & Influencers

How will brands use TikTok in Super Bowl marketing this year?

Experts say we shouldn’t expect the platform to overtake prime-time commercials anytime soon.
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Illustration: Dianna “Mick” McDougall, Photo: plherrera/Getty Images

4 min read

For many brands, TikTok has quickly become part of Super Bowl campaigns.

Last year, Taco Bell recruited Doja Cat, who starred in its Super Bowl ad, to promote its rewards program and tease a promotion ahead of the game on TikTok. The year before that, Ocean Spray did a campaign with the man who went viral skateboarding while drinking its juice. And the year before that, Mountain Dew made a dance challenge on the app inspired by The Shining to coincide with its Super Bowl commercial.

This year, the trend doesn’t seem to be slowing down: Experts told us that for the most part, brands using TikTok around the Super Bowl are on the rise. However, they noted that campaigns on the platform are often supplementary, supporting brands’ larger, more traditional Super Bowl spots rather than replacing them altogether.

Going all in?

After its first Super Bowl ad in 2021, State Farm ran a TikTok-only campaign last year in which people were encouraged to submit videos for a chance at being in the company’s next commercial.

“In 2022, we wanted to build on the early success of the Jake from State Farm TikTok account,” Alyson Griffin, VP of marketing for State Farm, told us via email. In total, she said it received almost 460 total submissions, 13.2 million views on TikTok, 77,100 new followers, and more than 50 media placements that resulted in nearly 312 million impressions.

Megan McMahon, SVP of celebrity and influencer at The Marketing Arm (TMA), said that State Farm’s standalone TikTok campaign, which the agency worked on last year, and campaigns like it, are “usually more of a one-off” than an indicator of a trend. However, FedEx seems to be taking a similar approach this year, tapping several TikTok musicians to perform during halftime of playoff games in lieu of a Super Bowl spot.

Enda Conway, senior VP and head of connections strategy at BBDO, told Ad Age that “it is so easy to get lost in the noise around the Super Bowl when the hype really starts a month beforehand in new platforms,” something the FedEx campaign aimed to avoid.

Another potential reason for going all-digital? Cost. Brendan Gahan, partner and chief social officer at Mekanism, told us that an advertiser could have run 37 branded hashtag challenges for the price of a Super Bowl spot in 2020.

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“When you look at Super Bowls from years past, you walk away remembering one, two, three spots,” he said. “I think for most brands, their dollars would be better spent elsewhere.”

Prioritizing social over TV is something brands have done in the past. Several have opted to run Super Bowl campaigns on Twitter over the years, from Esurance to Volvo.

Why not both?

Even among the brands that run Super Bowl ads this year, given economic concerns, Gahan expects to see more taking a “two-pronged approach,” running promotions on TV and TikTok in an effort to help their dollars go further.

Not promoting online or with influencers, Gahan said, is a “missed opportunity,” particularly for brands targeting younger consumers, who tend to trust creators more than celebrities in advertisements. He said Mekanism is working on a campaign that involves a pre-game spot as well as a TikTok activation featuring creators.

“My gut tells me we’re going to see more of the A-level, B-level celebrities in the ads themselves, but you’re gonna see a lot of chatter and a lot of support online from content creators about the same campaign,” McMahon told us.

Doritos seems to be taking that approach this year, having posted a TikTok dance challenge earlier this month in which participants could win $5,000 and a chance to be featured in its prime-time ad, which will feature rapper Jack Harlow.


Part of the reason that brands tend to f prioritize celebrities over creators in Super Bowl ads, McMahon said, is that they’re often more instantly recognizable than creators. It’s also what viewers seem to want. According to TMA’s 2022 Super Poll, more than half of 1,000+ viewers polled across all age ranges said they would “prefer to keep influencers in their respective social media channels” versus on TV during the big game.

“I think marketers are realizing that having these creators post to their native platforms to support whatever message they want around a cultural moment is actually more impactful than trying to cut and paste them into [their ad],” Meridith Rojas, chief brand officer at influencer marketing platform Captiv8, told us.

We’re also living in a world in which some creators can be more expensive than celebrities, which, all things considered, could make any decision easier for some marketers.

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