How a five-second ad shone in the Super Bowl

|| February 11, 2021

By Jordan McDonald

55 comms Social Media Coordinator

The Superbowl ads can be as entertaining as the game and this year’s 55th annual clash delivered.

Amazon, SquareSpace, Mountain Dew, Pringles, UberEats, Tik Tok and more made up an impressive list of brands who spent plenty for placement during the broadcast. Amazon’s Alexa ad and Cheetos’ It Wasn’t Me ad unofficially claimed most of the popularity vote.

However, a debutant to the Superbowl ad-show seems to have generated the most online buzz with a five-second ad.

Revealing… Reddit!

The five-second ad began like a car commercial with two SUVs travelling across the desert. The signal then appeared to be interrupted with Reddit’s alien logo, followed by a lengthy statement in the form of a reddit post that left viewers to take a photo or screenshot to fully take in. Here are the grabs from the ad:



The execution was so perfect that viewers thought there was interference with the CBS broadcast, causing the ad to become one of the most talked-about (and posted-about) of the day.

Reddit’s chief marketing officer Roxy Young said Reddit did not commit to running the ad until after a zoom meeting with R/GA, a marketing agency on February 1.

The timeframe is fascinating when you consider how many months would go into the campaigns of other ads.

Reddit has seen its fair share of headlines over the last few weeks because of the chaos r/WallStreetBets created – a subreddit of market traders who are attempting to get back at hedge-fund juggernauts. They’re currently winning.

It’s because of r/WallStreetBets and people’s growing desire to support what they believe in that Reddit had earned a Superbowl ad spot, according to Ms Young: “I felt like, with all the conversation around Reddit, we had really earned the right to be in that Super Bowl moment, where there are millions of people tuned into a singular event. I just didn’t think that we could come together with 30 seconds of beautifully produced material — but I was confident that we could do something in five seconds.”

The success of the Reddit ad also highlights the fact that our audience’s attention is only becoming more precious and that communicating a key message in as little 5-15 seconds is critical to engaging with your audience.

Reddit’s ad was able to cut through the noise and capture the viewer’s attention in less than five seconds and to disrupt an audience the size of those watching Superbowl is a tremendous win.

There are two key take-away’s from the Reddit ad:

  • How powerful people can be when they rally around something they really care about
  • How important it is to communicate your key message quickly

Audience habits continue to change rapidly.

But they remain attentive – you just have to be creative and innovative. Reddit’s approach is a perfect example.