Super Bowl XLVII Emails — A Win or A Loss?

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Reflecting back on the marketing efforts during Super Bowl XLVII has left me feeling pretty unimpressed. Marketers spent a ton of money on TV advertisements during the game — CBS was charging between $3.8 to $4 million for a 30-second commercial — but was it worth it?

With email marketing having the highest ROI in general, I was very uninspired by the Super Bowl emails that I received. This is such a huge avenue that advertisers should have taken advantage of during this event, especially since it’s been reported that 91% of viewers used their mobile device during commercial breaks, with email as the top activity performed during “simultaneous screen usage” (ie. TV + smartphone).

Let’s take a deeper look at the Super Bowl themed emails I’ve received over the past week.


For the most part, companies use any excuse to email you about a “special” or a “sale,” and, well, the Super Bowl is the perfect cop-out. Before the game, we received a few of these sales-y emails (although, definitely not as many as I thought!), as well as a few emails that weren’t overly promotional.

The first two Super Bowl themed emails that I came across on Thursday and Friday were from Shaws and Stop & Shop, respectively. It’s a nice tactic that they sent their emails a few days before the big day — people need time to grocery shop for Super Bowl parties!


  • Date/Time Received: Thursday, January 31st at 7:00 PM EST
  • Subject line: Danielle, your party is sure to be an appetizing hit (note: Danielle had forwarded this email over to me)
  • Offer: Coupons for veggie trays & other appetizers

While the main CTA of this email is to order appetizer trays from Shaws (no surprise there!), there are lots of additional CTAs such as watching a video of how to make guacamole, which is a nice non-promotional touch.

The bottom half of the email is comprised of a bunch of different promotions and coupons, such as savings on veggie trays and subs.

Stop & Shop

  • Date/Time Received: Friday, February 1st at 3:40 PM EST
  • Subject line: Get great game day recipes and platters

Stop & Shop’s email was one of my favorite Super Bowl themed emails. I love the game-day inspired chalkboard and the delectable-looking appetizers. In addition, I’m a big fan of the fact that the first CTA is to view party recipes, rather than to purchase something at Stop & Shop (which is the second CTA in the email). It’s nice that it’s event-themed (in a non-cheesy way) and isn’t overly promotional.

For grocers sending out game-day emails, the additional how-to content in both Stop & Shop and Shaw’s emails add a useful touch.


  • Date/Time Received: Saturday, February 2nd at 5:25 AM EST
  • Subject line: February 2013 Spotlight: Super Bowl teaser ads and new shows on Hulu

The sleek design of this email from Hulu is really nice — all of the different shows are displayed in a visually-appealing and organized way. In addition, since the main CTA of this email is to watch the top ads from past Super Bowls and then to come back to the site to vote for the best ads of 2013, it’s a nice way to get your subscribers to return to your email and your site. This email is definitely taking advantage of the sticky factor that Justine discusses in her game-day post.


  • Date/Time Received: Sunday, February 3rd at 10:00 AM EST
  • Subject line: Super deals + FREE SHIPPING. Sunday Only.
  • Offer: Free shipping on Sunday only [coupon: SUPER50]

This email from PacSun is exactly what I expect to receive for a Super Bowl promotional email. PacSun is using this event as an excuse to have a sale on items (such as boots and graphic tees) that are unrelated to the event itself.

I was uninspired by not only the unrelated promotion, but also the imagery of the email — what does it have to do with the Super Bowl? Absolutely nothing.


  • Date/Time Received: Sunday, February 3rd at 12:10 PM EST
  • Subject line: 30% off online + Top 5 faves for Feb
  • Offer: 30% off your purchase [coupon: GAPSCORE]

While there is no mention of the Super Bowl in the subject line of this email, the theme can definitely be seen at the top of the email (which is viewable in the preview pane!). It appears as if Gap took a non-game day related email and added a banner at the top that looks like a football field and added text to it about a “Game Changer” promotion. As a result, the banner doesn’t look cohesive with the rest of the email.


  • Date/Time Received: Sunday, February 3rd at 12:40 PM
  • Subject line: It’s Go Time!

Etsy does a great job of tying the Super Bowl into this email. The first half of the email is promoting football-themed items, such as vintage leather jackets and football invitations. They add some fun into the email by adding local San Francisco and Baltimore items, as well as “Super Bowls.” Even though they’re leveraging the game to sell, it doesn’t feel as gimmicky since it’s promoting items from their sellers. Plus, those items are “football-inspired” or helpful for entertaining. It’s quirky and cute — just like Etsy!


  • Date/Time Received: Sunday, February 3rd at 1:30 PM EST
  • Subject line: Superbowl Special: Beer for the BIG Game
  • Offer: Duo pack of specialty beer for $18

Justin had signed up for Rewinery’s emails after a visit to San Francisco and, after telling me how great they were, I signed up for them myself. Their templates are sleek (as well as responsive) and I really enjoy receiving them — including this Super Bowl themed one. Rewinery was able to tie the football game nicely with their imagery — putting the two teams’ logos on beer glasses — and the content of the email is in full support of the 49ers (they are based in San Fran afterall!).

While it’s definitely a promotional email (offering a discount on a duo pack of specialty beer), it’s not overly-promotional. There’s a lot of personality in the copy and the beers they feature cleverly tie into a game-day theme, with names like Payback and Betrayal.


Shockingly enough, I only received one email during the game! Other retailers missed out on a huge opportunity. I received this email from Rue La La during the halftime show (at 8:03 PM EST), about 20 minutes prior to the blackout. Its blackout timing was likely a happy accident, but it worked out perfectly.

Rue La La

  • Date/Time Received: Sunday, February 3rd at 8:03 PM EST
  • Subject line: Turn up Beyonce. And turn up the Styleathon. It’s time to shop.
  • Offer: Promotes the Stylathon — a sale that features discounts from numerous different brands.

While this email may not have football-themed imagery, the brilliance of their strategy was in their timing. This email was sent during the halftime show, while Beyonce was performing, so the subject line would immediately catch the reader’s eye. In addition, they included an animated GIF showing off their iPad app. More than anything, the timing of this email was huge (and it was the only email I received during the game!).


I’ve also received a few post-game emails over earlier this week (mostly promotional emails and nothing too exciting, unfortunately!).

  • Date/Time Received: Monday, February 4th at 4:15 AM EST
  • Subject line: Ravens Reign Again: Join the Celebration with Official Super Bowl Gear

Like the majority of’s emails, the template and design is really simple and organized. There is a nice hierarchy and the purple Raven’s color is evident throughout (though, not overdone).

While there is no sale in the email, is definitely promoting their NFL gear, particularly their Ravens’ jerseys and championship tees. It’s what I expected from — trying to sell the winner’s gear!

Under Armour

  • Date/Time Received: Monday, February 4th at 1:20 PM EST
  • Subject line: Congratulations To Our Hometown Baltimore Ravens!

Similarly to the email, Under Armour doesn’t offer a discount, but is promoting their football gear. There is a nice “hometown” feel to this email since Under Armour is based in Baltimore and shows that there are actual people behind the brand who have “Baltimore Pride,” as seen in the preheader.

However, it should be noted that by using Ray Lewis as the imagery in the email, it could be a little controversial due to his reputation.


  • Date/Time Received: Tuesday, February 5th at 2:00 AM EST
  • Subject line: Vote For Your Favorite Super Bowl Ad on YouTube!
I really enjoy this YouTube email. It’s simple, to-the-point, and has clear cut CTAs. In addition, the language of the email is fabulous! It’s casual and full of personality (ie. signing the email “Yours in chicken wings and nachos, the YouTube Team”). Between the design and content, it’s a great strategy to extend the CTAs from the ads and continue engaging with fans long after the game.


  • Date/Time Received: Tuesday, February 5th at 6:30 PM EST
  • Subject line: Time is running out.
  • Offer: Discounted packages on DIRECTV for a limited time

My favorite aspect of this email is, of course, the ticker that counts down til the discounted sale ends (a nifty technique using Movable Ink’s technology). It reminds me of a football scoreboard too, which is a nice touch! DIRECTV is able to nicely tie a football stadium into their typical designs (blue colors), but it’s still a bit of a reach: they’re just offering a discount deal.


First and foremost, marketers should definitely take advantage of email during big events like the Super Bowl. People are constantly multi-tasking (watching the game & playing with their phones), so there is an opportunity to reach consumers at a different time than you usually would (a Sunday night).


What did you think of the Super Bowl emails? Were you impressed? Did you receive any great/awful ones? I’d love to know your thoughts.