Three Lessons the Reddit Super Bowl Ad Can Teach Marketers

Did you catch it?

Chances are you didn’t. Sandwiched between celebrity endorsements and the biggest sporting event of the year was a five-second spot from Reddit. The advertisement flashed before viewer’s eyes and then disappeared.  But that doesn’t mean you won’t be hearing about it for the next couple of weeks. It’s trending on Twitter. Every major media outlet has a take. The marketing community is buzzing. Reddit easily won the evening.

When I first saw it flash on my screen I was excited to see something from the brand that has been causing waves over the past few weeks. Before I had a chance to read the message on screen, it was gone. But the ad caught my attention. I quickly rewound and paused the spot. That’s when the sound strategy of this ad really stuck with me. The brilliance of the Reddit Super Bowl ad is something marketers everywhere can learn a lesson or two from. And short of that, it should leave you inspired.

1. Capitalize on Timing

Timing is everything when it comes to the success of a campaign. Sometimes the fear of launching at the wrong moment can hold a brand back from success. Sometimes the moment is right in front of you and you need to act fast to capture it. Reddit became a household name early on in 2021, as it sent shockwaves into Wall Street with one of its user groups rallying for GameStop, sending investors into a tailspin. Everyday consumers have been dialed into the news, intrigued by what the users of Reddit were able to accomplish.

Reddit made a quick decision to capitalize on its brand being top of mind to push its message and values front and center with millions watching during the Super Bowl. I can only imagine how quickly the five second ad was secured and produced––but the challenge didn’t stop Reddit from taking advantage of this moment where its brand has never been talked about more.

2. Be Strategic in Spending

Within the ad’s message on screen, Reddit claims to be spending its entire annual marketing budget on purchasing the five-second spot. That’s about one-sixth the amount of time of the average 30-second commercial that most brands purchase. Why would they decide to blow their entire marketing budget on five seconds of air time? Reddit knew the five seconds would get them much more publicity than the actual return on the number of people who happened to see the ad when it aired.

They know nearly everyone watching the Super Bowl is able to rewind and pause, exponentially increasing the number of people who took in their ad’s message. They also recognized how much traction Reddit currently has on Twitter. A message that is impossible to read in five seconds built demand for people who missed it to go back and watch.. Not only that, but word of mouth spread like wildfire. Reddit knew they were placing a bet on something that may not have worked out: they said so right in their ad. But the strategy in this spend is something marketers can learn from. When timing and audiences align, it can pay off to try something new outside of your normal marketing mix.

3. Don’t Be Afraid to be Different, But Be You

Knowing the audience you’re catering to is important for every brand. Reddit is a community for everyday people to find a place to discuss their unique interests. Just like the infamous r/WallStreetBets community that took on Wall Street. Reddit used its five seconds of screen time to connect its recent notoriety with its brand values and purpose. In just a few sentences the brand promoted why Reddit can be a place for nearly every Super Bowl viewer to discover like-minded communities of people just like them.

Through its message, Reddit connects with viewers who may see themselves as the underdog, and showcases the power of coming together to rally behind something you believe in. They even cleverly nodded to its r/SuperbOwl group, that isn’t related to the Super Bowl at all, but rather a community of owl enthusiasts. Marketers strive to find ways to connect with their target audiences and capture attention through memorable brand experiences. What this Reddit ad teaches is that sometimes the simplest message can have a huge impact. When you’re authentic to the core of your brand, your audience will take notice.

While the Reddit Super Bowl ad disrupts all of the traditional marketing rules, it was successful in ways that marketers everywhere can learn from. When you’re not afraid to act fast, invest in something new, and remain true to the core of your brand, great things can happen.

Amanda McCarthy's headshot

Amanda McCarthy

As Director of Marketing, Amanda motivates brands to explore new tactics and methods of connecting with audiences. She gets to the heart of the matter by using art, data, and science to create customer-first experiences that serve a purpose.

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