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Reddit: a “glitch” turned genius

By Marcelo Wu


The Super Bowl, formerly a regular sporting day started in 1967, has quickly become a beloved American tradition. Just this recent Super Bowl has pulled in more than 100 million viewers, and to put this into perspective, it is like almost every one-in-three Americans will be watching! With this being said, Super Bowl Sundays have become much larger than the game itself.


With the game being around four hours long, a much-needed halftime show has been built into the event. World-renowned artists such as Maroon 5, The Weekend, Jennifer Lopez, and Shakira are only a few names that graced the stages in recent years. Extravagant decorations and special effects are a must-have in these performances, all adding to the excitement this day contains. Additionally, there is another component to the highly anticipated halftime show: the Super Bowl ads.


Companies such as Coca-Cola, Budweiser, and Doritos are frequent sponsors of the halftime show, with the advertisements shown being increasingly more competitive each year. Each ad lasts for a maximum of 30 seconds, and in 2021, it was recorded that companies have spent on average $5.5 million per ad. However, the trend of being extravagant and over the top came to a halt for a brief moment in time during the 2021 Super Bowl.


What appeared initially to be a glitch, the Reddit ad was a block of text that suddenly appeared and disappeared, totaling five seconds. People watching this all unfold in real-time were so shocked that many searched online for what had happened. The result? The advertisement defied all of what the Super Bowl represented, its standards of extravagance, resulting in becoming the second most searched ad during the game of all time.


Reddit’s unconventional approach and usage of the surprise factor were instrumental in its success. People paused, rewatched, and eventually got to read the whole thing, sharing it with others around the world. Reddit’s usage of guerrilla marketing was the first to do so in an event as grand as the Super Bowl halftime show. This move showed how effective guerrilla marketing could be when correctly implemented. The ad by itself generated a 25% increase in website visits and 6.5 billion+ impressions. Guerilla marketing drives brand awareness by using unconventional methods in delivering its promotion. It leaves a lasting impression on the audience, impressing them and naturally wanting to learn more about what was shown. Guerilla marketing has been growing in popularity at magnitudes large and small. Although it is more commonly seen in smaller-scale businesses, Reddit's understanding of the marketing strategy created the desired effect on a much larger audience base.


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