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Monday, February 6, 2012
Some off-the-field Super Bowl winners

By Kristi Dosh

Eli Manning may have won the MVP and given himself a boost in net worth, but Victor Cruz ruled social media, just as he did during the NFC Championship Game. According to Twitter’s official Super Bowl tracker, Cruz led Manning in Twitter mentions most of the game, although Manning took over once the game ended.

So will that end up being simple trivia for Cruz, or could the buzz lead to more endorsements?

“If you’re making clutch catches game in and game out through the playoffs and the end of the year, you’re going to become marketable and have that recognition factor right away,” said Doug Shabelman, president of Burns Entertainment & Sports Marketing Inc.

Shabelman isn’t aware of any national endorsements for Cruz going into this season, but thinks he could get some now: “Can he? Yes. Is he going to be a big six-figure or seven-figure endorser? No.”

Record tweets: The game prompted a record number of tweets per second for a sporting event, with 12,233. Madonna’s halftime performance peaked at 10,245. The prior record: 9,420 tweets per second, when the Denver Broncos defeated the Pittsburgh Steelers in overtime during the AFC wild-card game.

#hashtagseverywhere: Dawn Zencka, vice president at iProspect, a global digital performance agency, noted the prevalence of Twitter hashtags in this year’s commercials. She was especially impressed that Coca-Cola's polar bear ads reacted to the game in real-time and with the ability of fans to interact with the polar bears via Coca-Cola’s Twitter account.

“[It was] great in terms of a fan watching and tweeting. It was complete interaction and getting characters involved in the game in a way I haven’t seen any other advertiser do,” she said. “It [made] Coca-Cola a part of the conversation instead of just being talked about.”

“Heads” for free pizza: Papa John’s will dish out millions of free pizzas and soda bottles after website members collectively -- and correctly -- guessed the pregame coin flip. Website members will receive an email Monday with information about how to claim a free one-topping large pizza and 2-liter Pepsi MAX.

Sound expensive for the company, which is an official partner of the NFL? It might be worth the cost.

“There are people who will become loyal consumers of that product, which will offset the cost,” said Michael Lysko, director of Southern Methodist University’s sports management program.

“When you consider the money they’re spending on their NFL partnership, they’ve got to do something to break free of the pack,” he said. “They have to do something like this to activate their partnership. Otherwise, it doesn’t make sense to be an official partner, they could just buy the airtime.”

Doritos, consumer ads big winners: For the sixth year, Doritos aired consumer-created commercials, and they scored well again with viewers. Two Doritos commercials -- “Sling Baby” and “Man’s Best Friend” -- lead the USA TODAY Ad Meter.

If the commercials retain their current positions through Tuesday evening, the creator of the first-place ad will receive $1 million, with the creator of the second-place ad earning $600,000. Third place pays $400,000.

“Other advertisers are starting to get into it, like Chevy with their Camaro ad this year,” said Zencka of the consumer-produced ads. “I wouldn’t be surprised to see more next year, especially advertisers like Budweiser that have so many spots in the game.”

Pregame sizzle, fizzles: Two ads released prior to the Super Bowl to great fanfare fell flat during the game: Honda’s "Ferris Bueller"-inspired commercial and Acura’s Seinfeld commercial rank 11th and 14th in USA TODAY’s Ad Meter.

Alex Rowland, chief revenue officer and co-founder of Alphabird, an audience development viral video company that worked on this year’s Seinfeld and "Ferris Bueller"-themed ads, said the Ad Meter isn’t the only way to determine a winner, however.

“At the end of the day, brands are not buying first-place ratings, they’re buying impressions,” he said. Acura’s Seinfeld ad has more than 15 million views on YouTube, while Honda’s ad has more than 12 million.

The Doritos “Sling Baby” ad? Just a bit more than 300,000 views on YouTube since being uploaded by Doritos as part of its contest a month ago.