How has Digital Media changed advertising in major events like the Super Bowl?

The NFL’s Super Bowl is one of the most watched single mega events in the world providing global companies with the opportunity to reach a global audience with their latest digital campaigns. According to SportsMedia Watch, the last 10 Super Bowls have been the 10 most watched Super Bowls with viewership audiences often reaching more than 100 million people.

As the years have passed and audiences for the Super Bowl have grown so too has the price for advertising slots on TV. During the first ever Super Bowl in 1967, a 30 second advert cost roughly between USD 37.5K & 42.5K whereas for 2021 a 30 second advert cost companies an incredible USD 5.6 Million according to studies carried out by Nielsen Research Media & AD Age. This growth in coverage and advertising costs is as a result of the ever evolving technology developed enabling companies to operate all different kinds of digital campaigns relevant to what is going on in the world currently in order to achieve different objectives. Below are a series of examples highlighting how digital technologies have transformed the way in which companies have used the Super Bowl to implement and execute their digital campaigns.

If we analyse the 3 commercials above dating back from Super Bowl IV through to the most recent Super Bowl, Super Bowl LV, just a matter of weeks ago now we can see the change in the way we advertise as a result of technological development as well as lifestyle changes. Studies suggest at the time of Super Bowl IV cars were becoming a growing trend in the USA. Therefore, in order to reflect this growth from 1970 onwards Pontiac used their TV commercial to help consumers come around to the idea that cars are more than just a mode of transport, rather they are a signal of a person’s social status. This commercial is a good example of the theory developed by Gabriel & Lang who suggested that falling behind fashionable trends is a sign of social decline.

If we fast forward to Mountain Dew’s advert during Super Bowl LV, a Super Bowl taking place during a global pandemic, we can see the clear aim of Mountain Dew’s commercial is to generate brand engagement on Twitter, a social media platform, rather than focus on time spent. The interaction element of Mountain Dew’s commercial is only possible as a result of digitalisation and UGC platforms, a theory highlighted by McQuail & Deuze, whereas in 1970 this interaction is not possible making Pontiac’s commercial objective all about sales.

Digitalised media and UGC has led to a change in how brands are now engaging with us and what they are trying to achieve through their marketing efforts. As a result of COVID brands will no doubt need to adapt their marketing offerings in the short and long term future in order to produce further business results in their key areas.

How do you see adverts changing in the near future at mega events? Are there any digital trends that mega events and partnering brands can capitalise on to improve the efficiency of their marketing efforts?


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