By: Angela Walschinski, Account Assistant, Leonard & Finco Public Relations, Inc.

This past Sunday millions of viewers tuned in to watch Super Bowl XLIV and I was one of them. Don’t get me wrong, I love watching football, but when it comes to the Super Bowl my attention is equally focused on the commercials. This is the one day in which the commercials are just as important as the game. After all, companies spend 2-3 million dollars or more on a 30 second spot in the world’s most popular sporting event just to showcase their specially created ads to generate a variety of public reactions, whether it be developing an image or changing public perceptions.

This year companies used humor, celebrities and the presence of social media to enhance their Super Bowl ads. From Google’s first Super Bowl commercial “Parisian Love” to the humorous Doritos ads submitted by fans, the commercials were viewed by millions around the world.

Social media networks such as Twitter, Facebook and YouTube were utilized to increase the anticipation for these expensive advertisements. For instance, on Facebook, fans were asked to select the commercial they would most likely want to view during the Super Bowl, giving viewers the opportunity to help determine what commercial would be aired.

During the Super Bowl, social media networks helped create an instant buzz of feedback online through real time tweets on Twitter as well as postings to Facebook Fan pages regarding opinions of the ads. And, if you did miss out on a commercial during the big game, YouTube offers a place to go to view all the commercials again and again.

What was traditionally referred to as “word of mouth” now has morphed into “word of social media.” Companies are realizing the full power and reach of social media and what it means to their bottom line. When used correctly and, in conjunction with traditional media, social media is a cost effective way to increase the effectiveness of the ad campaign and to attract viewers to a company’s social media network.

What are your thoughts? With another Super Bowl completed and millions spent on advertising, which companies do you feel spent its money wisely?