Skip to Content

If you’ve watched YouTube throughout the years, you know it’s evolved quite a bit. Long gone are the days when the content exclusively centered on off-the-cuff vlogs. Now, YouTube is a place that millions go to witness major cultural events. But even beyond that, people are turning to YouTube to experience the moments around these moments.

Take me, for example. I recently watched Silk Sonic’s 64th Grammy Awards performance on YouTube. Then I found myself watching video after video of related content, like Kyle Hanagami’s choreography to a Silk Sonic song. I went from enjoying one performance at a major event to digging deeper into the culture surrounding that performance.

This type of watch behavior is ubiquitous on YouTube, and it gives brands the unique opportunity to make advertising budgets go further and work harder. Recent campaigns from Hyundai, bubly, and Mondelēz International are proof of this. Here’s how each company successfully used YouTube to stand out, extend its reach, and increase brand awareness during a key tentpole moment.

Hyundai efficiently reaches EV audiences around the Super Bowl

Last year, Hyundai planned to debut its new electric vehicle (EV), the Ioniq 5, during the Super Bowl. Angela Zepeda, Hyundai’s CMO, says, “The Super Bowl is one of the most-watched televised events in the world. That said, the landscape has changed. In order to connect with our audience, we need to evolve and explore different ways to ensure our brand is front and center.”

With more people watching live sports online, Hyundai wisely opted for a multimedia campaign. It aired a TV spot during both the NFL’s AFC and NFC Championship games and again during the Super Bowl pregame show. However, in contrast to previous years when the brand invested heavily in TV ads throughout the game itself, Hyundai went digital-first during the Super Bowl.

As Zepeda explains, “We know that digital-first audiences care deeply about keeping their pulse on the cultural zeitgeist, but are less likely to have standard cable and more likely to be cord-cutters. That’s where YouTube came in.” After consulting a Nielsen study showing YouTube as the leader in streaming watch time in the U.S., Hyundai felt confident that the platform would put them front and center with its audience.

Hyundai’s “History of Evolution” ad for its Ioniq 5 electric SUV, starring Jason Bateman, was a feature moment in its digital-first Super Bowl campaign.

Core to Hyundai’s digital-first approach was investing in YouTube AdBlitz inventory and surrounding its ads with Super Bowl-related content. This included videos directly related to the big game, such as NFL highlight footage, along with content tangentially related to the Super Bowl, like recipes and cooking demonstrations geared toward foodies and tailgaters. By doing so, Hyundai extended its reach beyond the mainstream Super Bowl culture and tapped into the event’s subcultures.

Timing was also integral to Hyundai’s approach. The company extended its campaign to run for a full month, which allowed it to become part of the Super Bowl hype in the weeks leading up to and following the game.

This video content strategy paid off. After the campaign generated more than 247 million impressions, Hyundai became a big brand winner of the AdBlitz 2022 contest, an honor given to brands who receive the most views on their Super Bowl commercial. Additionally, by starting its campaign early during off-peak days, the brand also reduced its cost per unique view by 50% compared to a traditional Super Bowl buy.

During Pride Month, bubly finds a passionate, eager audience

For Pride Month this year, bubly partnered with the Stonewall Inn Gives Back Initiative to celebrate the LGBTQ+ community, and the chosen families and safe places that allow its members to flourish. As part of the partnership, the brand created a short film called Coming Home, which offered a simple, yet powerful message: Everyone deserves a family.

With the power of YouTube behind it, bubly’s film earned more than 6 million views and a view rate above 50%.

To promote the film and ensure it got the viewership and engagement it deserved, bubly knew it was important to find the right platform. As Conor Dwyer, brand communications lead at PepsiCo, explains, “YouTube was among the only platforms where we could functionally and efficiently deliver a video ad that surpassed two minutes and reach an audience already primed for viewing long-form content.” YouTube also helped bubly’s film reach a wider range of relevant audiences through behavioral and contextual targeting, including affinity segments like LGBTQ Content Enthusiasts, and ensure it appeared alongside relevant content.

With the power of YouTube behind it, the film earned more than 6 million views and a view rate above 50%. The film also drove heightened interest in the brand, which saw a 1091% relative lift in searches for “bubly.”

Mondelēz turns up the volume on share of voice

Mondelēz decided to promote its Philadelphia Cream Cheese brand during Italy’s biggest national music festival and song contest, the Sanremo Music Festival. This involved sponsoring the YouTube channels for the artists in the festival and running a YouTube homepage masthead during the weeklong event. The brand chose YouTube because it knew the platform would be ideal for immersing in the excitement of the festival and reaching as many music fans as possible. It was a smart strategy, as music streaming had been growing in popularity since the start of the pandemic, especially on YouTube.

To reach the largest online audience possible, Mondelēz ran a 25% share of voice YouTube campaign, which guarantees advertisers a set percentage of ads around certain content groups. For Mondelēz, that meant its campaign could run on the official YouTube channels of all the top artists competing in the Sanremo festival. Mondelēz not only extended its campaign reach by leaning into the momentum from the main event, but also by tapping into the excitement before, during, and after the festival.

Mondelēz also secured a YouTube masthead ad exclusively on connected TV. This helped the brand reach a new, fast-growing base of connected TV viewers and keep the Philadelphia brand front and center over the course of the festival.

In the end, Mondelēz’ connected TV masthead increased its reach by 30%, and the overall campaign successfully reached 5.4 million unique users, garnering almost 20 million impressions in just 14 days.

A grouping of 3 people icons. One is red, representing 5.4 million unique users successfully reached. A bar chart overlaid with a red growth arrow pointing up, representing 30% incremental reach.

As video viewers increasingly gravitate online, innovative companies like Hyundai, bubly, and Mondelēz show that it’s no longer enough to simply run ads during tentpole moments. Instead, these companies found wider audiences and increased brand awareness by leveraging YouTube to tap into the subculture and tangential moments around the Super Bowl, Pride Month, and Sanremo Music Festival. Their strategies and resulting success can inspire brands of all sizes to find greater reach and new fans on YouTube.