To many, the New England Patriots' improbable comeback during Super Bowl LI Sunday was all about team perseverance and one of the best quarterbacks to ever play football.
Buffalo Wild Wings had other ideas.
With a shrug emoticon and an incriminating "It Wasn't Us" message it posted on Twitter and Facebook, the Golden Valley-based sports bar chain continued to hint that it has a magical power to influence sports events with just a touch of a button, a common theme of its broadcast ads in the past.
Buffalo Wild Wings' engagement with football fans on social media Sunday was a prime example of the growth of real-time marketing.
"What's great is that they had it in their back pocket. … That opportunity was waiting for them and they had the concept ready," said Tony Rivera, president of the Minnesota chapter of the American Marketing Association.
For Buffalo Wild Wings, the strategy paid off with more than more than 5,000 likes, retweets and favorites. In another Twitter post, the brand said, "An overtime 51 years in the making. You're welcome." That tweet was liked more than 4,000 times and retweeted more than 800. Earlier, it generated more than 18,000 votes in a poll about the chances of the game going into overtime.
The company has often jokingly claimed it can change the course of sports events. It continued that theme in a pregame ad Sunday that featured football Hall of Famer Brett Favre, who is told that Buffalo Wild Wings is the reason why he was the most-intercepted passer in NFL history. The company's logo appears at the end of the commercial with the words "It Wasn't Us" that fritz out and lose the "n't" along with #HitTheButton.
The way Buffalo Wild Wings used #HitTheButton on social media was relevant and smart, Rivera said.
"What's so cool about that is that they can continue using that because there is always going to be a crazy moment in sports," he said.
Buffalo Wild Wings is no stranger to capitalizing on the popularity of social media. When the lights went out during the Super Bowl in New Orleans in 2013, the company also took advantage commenting on Twitter (though more famously so did the Oreos cookie company).
The campaign has garnered almost 30 million online video views on YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and the company's website. A lot of the social media work for Sunday was orchestrated by a collaborative of marketers at Buffalo Wild Wings and Minneapolis agency Space150.
For Buffalo Wild Wings, the Super Bowl is its biggest day of the year. It sold about 12.5 million wings last year on Super Bowl Sunday. This year's total has not yet been released.