As TV networks and brands prepare to reach more than 100 million viewers at the 2021 Super Bowl, advertisers are showing restraint this year. Normally, a large part of the social conversation revolves around brands and their upcoming advertising campaigns, but these are not normal times. In 2020, Fox took in about $600 million in advertising revenue for Super Bowl LV and its pre- and post-game coverage, while the game itself generated around $435 million. However, 2021 is shaping up to be a much different year for marketers and consumers alike.
In recent days, the focus has shifted to the NFL’s invitation to 7,500 vaccinated frontline healthcare workers to attend the game in person. For those who have to stay home, advertisers are even more wary of the lack of Super bowl viewing parties that usually dominate on and offline conversations. Many have expressed their concern that with consumers watching the event in quieter environments, the typical “bombastic” approach may be inappropriate. As marketers recalibrate their efforts to attracting a less celebratory consumer, there is a bright spot in the social data. Viewers might not be going to the stadium or attending large parties, but they are embracing new consumption moments in 2021. With the challenges and expectations of the upcoming event, how can your brand reach these consumers and appeal to these new consumption moments past game day?
Super Bowl Consumption Moments
The NFL imposed numerous restrictions on both players and coaches during the 2020 season to keep everyone safe. As precautions are extended to Super Bowl viewers, advertisers are now weighing their options to attract an atypical audience. The added challenge of the game occurring in the shadow of the 2020 presidential election means that even the most well-meaning of ads can be twisted into a meme on social media.
One thing advertisers, brands, and viewers alike can agree on is that tailgating does not have to end with the imposition of social distancing regulations. A new trend is emerging among consumers unable to pack up the grill and take the party to the stadium for a classic tailgate.
The term “homegating” emerged on social media with posts coinciding with the start of the NFL season in the United States. Consumers have been finding celebratory occasions in the small, everyday moments, and a tailgate is one of those opportunities. The tailgate party has been typically associated with the NFL and American football games featuring alcoholic beverages, barbecue treats, and appetizers.
Source: Linkfluence, Radarly Topic Wheel "Homegating" January 2020 - January 2021
Like other consumption moments seen in the social data during the pandemic, these celebrations have moved indoors and become more intimate. Whether consumers are calling it “homegating” or posting about “tailgating at home”, people are still using football as a reason to celebrate and brands have taken note. AB InBev mark Stella Artois USA partnered with several retired NFL players to capitalize on the trend with “Stella Stadium Bites”. Retired Giants Quarterback Eli Manning, and Wide Receiver Victor Cruz lent their names to the PR push hoping to inspire fans to stay home and stay safe for the upcoming Super Bowl.
Celebrity branded deals are not the only way to tap into this trend. Automaker Toyota Motor Corporation joined in with their #toyotatailgate2go sweepstakes created in partnership with LSU Athletics in November 2020. For some fans, the community surrounding football is more important than the actual games themselves. Even if team supporters can not drive to the stadium parking lot to grill, they are recreating the experience and atmosphere at home. Jagermeister USA decided to help consumers set the mood by starting a party hotline to help homegaters make the most of their at home cooking experience.
Grasping the Culture
For many brands, the Super Bowl is a cultural moment more than a sporting event. Although food and beverage are an expected choice for sponsorship, there is an opportunity to reach new consumers in this atypical Superbowl season due in part to this trend. For brands that can act pre-emptively, it's a real opportunity to associate products with the positive sentiment that currently defines the homegating trend.
The potential is even more evident if marketers consider the demographic split of NFL viewers, and those participating in the homegating trend. Fans discussing the NFL and associated sports team on the social web usually skew younger and male.
Source: Linkfluence, Radarly NFL January 2019 - January 2020
The demographic spread for the homegating trend however more closely reflects the typical viewership demographic for the Superbowl. The game averages about 53% male and 47% female, and that margin has been shrinking in recent years.
Source: Linkfluence Radarly, Homegating Trend, January 2019-2020
While the Super Bowl is one event and cultural moment, the homegating trend lengthens the period of time that advertisers have access to a more diverse consumer base.
Although 80% of total Super Bowl advertising spots were claimed by companies like Toyota in late December, January has not been kind to the CBS Network. Large multinational brands like Coca-Cola, Pepsi, Hyundai and others have taken a step back this year over worries about advertising tone. Even Budweiser, a regular Super Bowl advertiser, has sidestepped this year's opportunity. The AB InBev brand plans to donate some of its airtime to the Ad Council and the COVID Collaborative instead.
With so many brands worried about striking the right tone in this Super Bowl season, tracking the trends and staying on top of the consumption moments is especially important. There are still several approaches to creating successful campaigns in this climate. Following the example of Toyota, marks can leverage the social trends to support customers by encouraging positive moments. Others may take the lead of Budweiser and make empathy and brand purpose the cornerstone of their marketing strategies. Regardless of the approach, AI-backed social data analytics is a tool that can help identify key tribes and how to best interact with them on the social web.
Striking the Right Balance
The ongoing pandemic has made it increasingly difficult for brands to orient their marketing to changing consumer expectations. The Super Bowl and its advertisers are just another sector that can benefit from developing a 360 degree view of the social trends and their key consumers. Brands do not have to rely on conventional research methods alone, these changing consumer trends and consumption patterns are traceable with AI-enabled consumer insights.
As shoppers continue to spend an unprecedented amount of time connected to social media, more consumer touchpoints are pushed from the offline to online sphere. Now is the time to identify your key consumer tribes, and discover how to best communicate with them. With AI-enabled consumer insights, stay on top of the emerging trends in FMCG like homegating and more to maintain consumer-centricity into 2021 and beyond.