On the second day of the Shop.org annual conference, Steve Lubomski, of H&M, presented two key case studies of their marketing efforts in the first half of 2012. The biggest was, of course, their SuperBowl campaign with David Beckham at the helm.

As half of the SuperBowl audience is women and not a lot of people cater to them, they took a chance with their first SuperBowl ad that lead them to garner almost 2 billion impressions in a month.

But what did the H&M team learn from advertising during the SuperBowl?

1) You need everyone on the organization on board.

In October 2011, Lubomski flew over to Sweden to explain the SuperBowl to the CEO and the global CMO and CEO. If it was as big as he thought it would be, the US team would need support around the world and, more importantly, need enough product in store.

Once the US H&M team decided to advertise during SuperBowl, they had to make a few key decisions to do with the ad and they had to make them fast. Lubomski fought for a spot in the 2nd quarter to get the biggest impact, they had to edit the ad to fit the conservative style of the NFL and still maintain their brand identity and they had to pick the right song.

Also they needed to determine the release schedule of the ad and the product line. Do they release before or after the SuperBowl. They decided release everything before the SuperBowl which allowed them to see the impact pre-SuperBowl and compare it to post-SuperBowl. This allowed them to benchmark to determine if the ad worked and to give themselves justification for the investment they put into it.

As you may imagine, one SuperBowl ad couldn’t stand alone. They needed support across all channels (online, mobile and print) and had to branch out into new areas. Though fashion remained in centre, they went beyond into sports with advertisements in Sports Illustrated and other sports publications. 

2) Set a plan and stick to it.

There is a lot of temptation to change once you see what competitors are doing but the H&M team resisted that pull and stayed on track with a pre-determined schedule. Though I believe there needs to be a bit of reactiveness to a campaign, this approach did keep their deliverables set in stone and I’m sure many of the creative team were thankful for it. 

In the lead up to the SuperBowl on February 5, they had the following schedule: 

  • January 17 – Announcement that H&M were advertising during the SuperBowl with David Beckham. They released a number of stills as teasers of the ad.
  • January 30 – Six days before the SuperBowl they launched the full 30 second ad on their YouTube page.
  • January 31 – H&M’s US company head went on a media tour to news organizations such as CNBC and Bloomberg. As the main goal was the raise brand awareness in the US and reach a new market, they had to look beyond just the message of that single SuperBowl campaign.
  • February 4 – They had a big social media push from the H&M social properties as well as from David and Victoria Beckham. She reached out to her millions of Twitter followers and he reached out to his fans on Facebook. 
  • February 5 – The big game saw the release of the ad and their social media war room of 18 staff kept tabs on the whole thing.

3) Social TV is here and here to stay. Watching and tweeting, etc.

During the SuperBowl there were 1.2 Million comments for all the SuperBowl commercials with H&M leading the pack with 114,000 mentions.  8.7% percent of all SuperBowl conversations were about commercials and the David Beckham ad beat the Victor Cruz touchdown in terms of social mentions.

To help grow the online conversations, the social team was live bidding on Twitter keywords as events happened. For instance, they bought Cruz, touchdown, and Madonna and this definitely contributed to the 114,000 mentions.

4) Dedicate the resources needed and hire the right people

H&M went out of their comfort zone. This meant their normal Fashion PR agency wouldn’t be the one to do this so they used sports PR people and reached out to a new audience.

They also had to staff up on the day. 18 people were live tweeting and monitoring in real time. As Lubomski said, if you go for it, go big.

The team engaged with active and influential Tweeters from their 1.6m followers and H&M was actually the most active brand on SuperBowl Sunday. They had a total of 141 engagements:

  • 66 @ Mentions
  • 56 Editable retweets
  • 14 tweets from @HMUSA

Other brands fell way behind. A “major car manufacturer,” for instance, only Tweeted twice.

5) Big moves can produce big results

In four weeks (2 weeks before and 2 weeks after the SuperBowl), they had:

  • 1,942, 595, 173 media impressions
  • 2.3 million youtube views
  • An increase of 6% for their national brand awareness

6) Sex and celebrity can sell 

Though Lubomski couldn’t go into exact figures, they had a triple digit sales increase on the Beckham product line and a boost of male product line in the two weeks following the SuperBowl.

Though they had to invest a lot to make this happen, H&M had the power to do so and integrated both the experience and the expertise of their team around the globe.