Super Bowl is not just a big (or THE BIG) American sporting event of the year but it is an annual audio-visual advertising orgy too. For the least sport-educated folks, Super Bowl is the annual championship game of National Football League (NFL). The 1st Super Bowl was played January 15, 1967. Last Sunday (February 4) football fans watched 52nd Super Bowl when Philadelphia Eagles won over New England Patriots and grab the first Super Bowl crown in the team’s history.
The match itself could be an interesting topic for a sports marketing case study (halftime show featuring international entertainment superstars like Justin Timberlake). However we’d like to look at it from a different angle: the unusual cooperation of advertising and traditional media relations. Usually these two disciplines can serve highly different goals (supporting sales vs strengthening reputation of a corporation) but they are good complementary tools for marketers/communicators. What makes Super Bowl TV coverage unique is the fact that here advertising becomes THE media content. It is among those rare moments when not just advertising trade media but general interest news portals, entertainment blogs or even TV news cover advertising.
Super Bowl is one of the most viewed sporting events in the world no doubt about that. Its viewership is dominantly US based, however American football is increasingly popular in Europe and Asia too. Marketers have good reasons to buy extremely expensive ad space here. On average more than 100 million people from the United States alone are tuned into the Super Bowl at any given moment. A huge-huge number indeed. And here comes the interesting part: according to television ratings companies a significant segment of the audience tunes into the Super Bowl solely to view commercials.
Not surprising that advertisers spends millions of dollars on the ad space plus production cost of spectacular Super Bowl exclusive advert. This is the rare opportunity when advertising is not something to ignore, to block or to avoid. Advertising can attract and entertain consumers here. Marketers spends a lot on Super Bowl ads but their ROI is also valuable. Media outlets create lists of the best/the worst/the most successful ads, business papers calculate the investment, bloggers analyze current ad trends. Just like in a good media relations campaign…
The media stories on Super Bowl ads can head to weird directions too. This year’s Doritos advert raised the attention of Game of Thrones fans. Peter Dinklage, the actor who plays Tyrion Lannister in the hit TV show, appeared in the commercial with Morgan Freeman. In the ad Dinklage breathes fire, leading fans to believe that could be a sophisticated hint that Tyrion is actually a Targaryen (for non-Game of Thrones fans: royal dynasty of sons of dragons). You can find fans speculating on the hidden message of this ad in social media….
Can an advertiser dream of anything more?