Thinking About the Super Bowl Outside of the Box (of the Living Room)
February 10, 2012 by Karlin Linhardt, CMO, InStadium
Well, the numbers are in for the latest chapter of our annual secular holiday, The Super Bowl. A record audience of 111.3 million people tuned in for the game, and for our annual celebration of advertising creativity. Whether this year’s commercial crop stands up to the idolized efforts of the past remains arguable. But for advertisers, one issue remains constant: finding ways to replicate the power and impact of the Super Bowl “stage” for great advertising throughout the year.
With a 40.5 rating, this year’s game delivered an incredible average audience of 51.6 million Adults 18 – 49. But, huge reach is not the only factor that makes Super Bowl advertising so powerful. We all tune in for the content and the commercials, and watching great ads with a crowd of friends can magnify the impact and recall of the messages. In a world of consumers who are increasingly empowered (in-command; on-demand content), distracted (multi-tasking & media-surfing), and elusive (shrinking ratings), it seems that no other vehicle can compare to the Super Bowl’s extraordinary opportunity for marketing communication: reaching a huge audience that’s excited, attentive, and open to commercial messages. The Academy Awards and the Olympics (every two years) also attract huge, socially-oriented viewing opportunities, but after that short list, the size, scale, and impact of these unique media events is hard to come by the rest of the year.
Then again, maybe there is another option we’ve been overlooking: the stadiums themselves. There’s a ton of similarities to consider.
First and foremost, the content: live sports. Unlike most televised sports, the Super Bowl game is much like attending a live game: you can’t record it, because being a part of the “real time” experience is the whole point. It’s “can’t miss” content. And that experience includes watching the game and the commercial messages, resulting in an integrated communications platform that keeps most viewers (or attendees) in their seats during breaks in the action. Like the Super Bowl broadcast, live sports fans watch this integrated content in a social setting that magnifies the impact of great advertising messages. That’s why key metrics like awareness and recall are equally superior for Super Bowl commercials and live in-stadium messages.
Then, consider the reach. While average prime time network ratings have plummeted in the past 30 years, Super Bowl audiences have grown substantially. So has live sports attendance. For the four major leagues, annual attendance has increased more than 60% in 25 years. As a result, over eight consecutive weeks during the fall, approximately 25.4 million unique Adults 18-49 will attend a game among the four major leagues and major collegiate sports.
In a world of ever-shrinking audiences, copy-cat content, and "ADD" viewers, maybe it's time for us to start thinking outside the box of the living room, to the stadiums themselves. Because that's where advertisers can reach a huge number of growing, attentive, and excited viewers, and where Super Bowl-like impact can be felt for longer than just one day in February.
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