Super Bowl LIV wasn’t a huge one for commercials, and with good reason: It’s been a rough past year, and it wouldn’t be appropriate if every one of them was about goofy animals or something. That didn’t mean every one of them was a somber meditation on pain and loss. After all, one of them was about Edward Scissorhands’ son. And possibly the most clever commercial thought way, way outside the box: the one for the social news aggregator Reddit, which was all of five seconds long.
It starts off looking like a normal ad: Two cars are racing across a desert when, all of a sudden, things got glitchy. A Reddit logo filled the screen, followed by another screen filled with dense text. But you only had three seconds to read it all before it cut back to horses running in slo-mo.
Of course, people don’t only watch TV on live television, do they? Soon as people were able to dig up a copy over YouTube or Twitter, you could pause it and discover what on earth Reddit was thinking. “If you’re reading this, it means our bet paid off,” read the slate. “Big game spots are expensive, so we couldn’t buy a full one. But we were inspired and decided to spend our entire marketing budget on 5 seconds of airtime.”
The slate goes on to indirectly address the GameStop-Reddit saga, in which users on the site fomenting a stock market meltdown. “One thing we learned from our communities last week is that underdogs can accomplish anything when they come together under a common idea,” it read. ““Who knows, maybe you’ll be the reason finance textbooks have to add a chapter on ‘tendies.’”
It then encouraged forward-thinkers to name Reddit as their home: “Powerful things happen when people rally around something they really care about. And there’s place for that. It’s called Reddit.”
Of course, because it was only five seconds long a lot of people may have missed it the first time. But enough people caught it.
— philip lewis (@Phil_Lewis_) February 8, 2021
And people praised its ingenuity.
— Erin 😷 👟🗳 Schmidt (@___schmitty___) February 8, 2021
Reddit wins today
— CRAY (@craymusic) February 8, 2021
— Greg McLaughlin ⛳ (@greg___m) February 8, 2021
— Martini Tuesday (@sdotmarte) February 8, 2021
— Money Line Marco (@marcojimenez441) February 8, 2021
10/10 Super Bowl commercial for Reddit pic.twitter.com/led6VFUT0M
— Stock Market News (@StockMKTNewz) February 8, 2021
And Reddit top brass patted each other on the back for a job well done.
TV networks: Is this your commercial?
TV networks: …but it's a JPEG.
Us: Just run it.
— Reddit (@reddit) February 8, 2021