Why Super Bowl 50 is the Best Place for 2016 Brands
As a Canadian who has
spent most of my career working with iconic global brands like Emirates Airline, Jim Beam and
Heineken, finding a single evening that
has the effects of Super Bowl is rare.
Living in the US, it's easier to understand the magnetic pull and awesome power of the Super Bowl as a place for brands. For those outside the US, it all may seem a little foggy. OK, everyone knows the mythology of how Apple broke out against IBM in 1984 using a Super Bowl spot directed by Ridley Scott. In those days - the olden days - Super Bowl was the place where the greatest brands dared to place an ad. It was the arena of boldness. Of daring. The most hard core advertising forum of all. In 2016, however the data is clear, this reverent platform is an effective place for smart brands. Here's why.
Super Bowl 50 is designed to capture the hearts, minds and 260 million eye balls on CBS this year. They will come for the game and also for the commercials because the ads are seen as entertainment in and of themselves. With the fractalisation of TV viewing and the consumer having choice overload, appointment viewing television is a stronger tool than ever before for marketers to utilize. The Super Bowl is an American social cultural phenomenon; no one wants to be left out of the loop. Leading up to the game, during the game, and for days after the game the event is a point of social discussion and debate. The Super Bowl makes more sense than ever because it provides a brand an important platform.
When devising your Super Bowl commercial, you need to keep the mood of the country in mind. We are living in conservative times, people are fearful, anxious. Alongside ads that are silly, humorous, wacky, we will deliver a profound ad with an optimistic message because people want to feel good. That is why our clients, my team and our partners are launching the 'onUp movement' for SunTrust Bank during Super Bowl 50. It will be introduced with an innovative commercial called "Hold Your Breath." If you hold your breath while watching it, you'll get the full experience. It is, I believe, one of the first interactive ads that will engage people from the first second and keep them engaged until the end, participating in the SunTrust ad, and then drive people to onUp.com where an immersive experience is waiting for you.
Platforming Gives Brands a Bigger Role
It is exactly this powerful platform that gives a select group of brands such as SunTrust the opportunity to stand out. Platforming a brand lets you punch above your weight, connect with the power of culture, hang with other American icons and in the end create mass awareness and engagement. I saw this first hand when Karin Drakenberg and I brought Heineken to James Bond and when our young independent agency StrawberryFrog did the Casino Royale global Heineken campaign, and later when we brought Heineken to Champion's League as the official sponsor. We experienced this when we brought Pampers to Super Bowl and later to the Olympic Games. Platforming works.
Think about it. Between barking dogs, screaming babies and the millions of daily interruptions and flashes of messaging that seem to enter and exit our brains in the blink of an eye, the many different ways we watch programs, and don’t forget the tiny social media messages that pop up incessantly, brands today need BIGGER platforms to breakthrough, and bigger brand ideas to galvanize the general public to make waves and get people to remember them. How many millions of messages and hundreds of millions of dollars are spent on client messages that never register?
Super Bowl and spiralling fragmentation
In the United States, the Super Bowl platform makes even more sense when you look at the devolution of traditional television. There’s a downward spiral in regular TV ratings on American television, which continues with no end in sight. Super Bowl stands out as a powerful platform for a brand that wants to accelerate its trajectory, and make an impact with the American consumer. Against this are the numbers that underscore the rapid changes in how TV viewers are consuming content. Americans are increasingly watching TV shows on Netflix, Hulu, Amazon streaming and other services. Some 40 percent of households now have subscription video service, Nielsen reported at the end of 2015. In an era of fragmentation Super Bowl is the only media program remaining that has any mass American ritual component.
In 2016, I have been working on a purpose driven Super Bowl 50 campaign for SunTrust Banks that will break during the 2 minute warning in the fourth quarter. Getting here required a lot of research and uncovering the cost and benefit of the Super Bowl. Working closely with our clients who think big, and our media partner on SunTrust, 22 Squared, we uncovered tremendous insights. Jenny Reed, VP Media Director of 22 told me that using the “Super Bowl as a launch platform for the SunTrust campaign provides the opportunity to not only instantly reach 46.6%* of their core target, but many others, to aid in jump starting the movement support at a national level that will then fuel the local support. “
There is tremendous power in being associated with positive culture. It’s completely a feel good time when people are surrounded with friends and family, and enjoy watching and discussing commercials and what they mean. Another benefit of Super Bowl is that many of those tuning in to the commercials are the very same hard to reach consumers who don’t watch commercials the rest of the year.
Millennials’ Super Bowl TV Viewership Far
Outpaces Closest Competitors
For Millennials, perhaps the most adept audience at avoiding advertising, the Super Bowl far eclipses the closest competitors in viewership, and represents a rare occasion where the ads truly become a central part of the event itself. I spoke with Chris Boothe, CEO of Spark, our media partner on StrawberryFrog’s Gold Cannes Lion winning Orexo and the past European Wax Center campaigns. He told me that the game delivers an avalanche of viewers from this coveted young generation: “Super Bowl XLIX most recently delivered a 35.81 live + same day rating (vs. an average 1.02 primetime number for the top five markets), reflecting a mindboggling 34.6 million total Millennial viewers (ages 18-34) in a span of just under 4 hours. To juxtapose the Super Bowl viewership with two popular hit shows, the current season of Fox’s Empire totalled 45.1 million viewers over the course of 10 episodes, while AMC’s The Walking Dead has collected 58.5 million total viewers for the entire current season (ages 18-34). When compared with the Super Bowl, it took seven episodes of Empire (36.1 million) and five for The Walking Dead (37.0 million) to surpass the Super Bowl XLIX Millennial total audience.”
But what about hard to reach affluents? Or C-Suite Management? Opinion formers? Or Women? Isn’t Super Bowl a male dominated football loving, sporting event? No, this is a social and cultural event that unites and has some of the highest engagement numbers with hard to reach audiences. It has cultural relevance, the phenomenon probably dates back thousands of years to the Roman Empire. Just like the scene from Ridley Scott’s Gladiator when the Roman Forum reveals an audience made up of the Roman elite, royal family members as well as men, women and children in the bleachers and the cheap seats - all sitting together, eating marzipan and taking in the spectacle. Food tastes have changed but much remains the same.
"Contrary to many long-held beliefs, the Super Bowl attracts an impressively large number of female viewers. “Super Bowl XLIX most recently delivered a 36.94 live + same day rating, which translates to a total of 34.8 million female viewers (ages 18 49). This reflects a 25% increase of female viewers when compared to prime-time broadcast viewership among the same demo, which averaged a 1.85 rating. Millennials, females and, in a sense, all viewers enjoy the Super Bowl as a competition on two levels: who wins the big game, but also who has the best commercials. The data is clear, the Super Bowl is an investment that delivers superb results for marketers," Chris told me.
For CEOs and CMOs and marketers wanting BIGGER impact. Super Bowl 50 is the biggest awareness opportunity and it doesn't require much to sustain. It offers awareness that starts building pre-game for weeks and is big with social. For a brand delivering a BIGGER brand idea, the Super Bowl is the kick off to the year. It enables brands to have local activities across markets and make all those diverse efforts
work even harder. "It’s the one venue in which the commercials are every bit as important to viewers as the programming," says Shayne Millington, ECD of StrawberryFrog.
Once you understand the power of the platform and why it's the smart choice now, then you need to focus on the ad itself. And then the decision comes down to what kind of ad you want to make: Wacky, absurd celebrity endorsements, straight product pitches or, an opportunity to deliver an important galvanizing message to America.
Scott Goodson is Founder & Chairman, StrawberryFrog & author of bestseller Uprising (McGraw-Hill 2012)