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Making the most of a Super Bowl promotion

Monday, March 31st, 2008

The Super Bowl is a tremendous opportunity for anyone in the retail business to capture momentum in sales volume early in the year. Though cash-strapped from the holidays, consumers spend an estimated $11.7 billion on Super Bowl parties, a month after the traditional holiday season is over. The event is bigger than the game, as we all head to Super Bowl parties to sample part of the $5 billion worth of goods the hosts bought, or the $6.7 billion worth of goods the rest of us guests threw in nationwide. Sales data shows us that its not just chips ($33.4 million), meat ($16.6 million), soda ($18.6 million), and beer ($20.7 million), being purchased incrementally, but nearly 4 million HD TVs (65 % bought at Wal-Mart or Best Buy) and 1.8 million pieces of furniture outfitting living rooms. This, and the fact that it is consistently the highest rated TV program of the year, makes the Super Bowl a boon for all the brands that stand to benefit from the occasion.

Brands market at retail for the Super Bowl in a variety of ways. Brands like Coors Light, Pepsi, Doritos and others pay the NFL for official sponsorship and rights to the marks for the Super Bowl. Non-sponsors like Coke, Miller Lite, and Kellogg’s use generic terms like the “Big Game” to try to capture the essence of the big game. The biggest retailers “took back” the Super Bowl by creating their own programming themes. But promotional programs that most brands execute offer fewer, bigger prizes, don’t interact with the shopper beyond their experience at the shelf. Despite their efforts, most promotions seem generic because everyone is doing the same thing. Brands with the greatest connection to football parties – especially food and beverage brands – tout the “Ultimate Party” but don’t give us a compelling reason to believe them.

It’s as if most Super Bowl brands are talking to themselves and not their audience – the fans. And the fans can tell the difference.

We the fans want to have the best experience possible. And, unless you are a one of the few fans that has connections, your chance of getting tickets to the game is nil. The biggest fans, the most loyal ones, are watching at home because they simply can’t go to the live event. So the game becomes a reason to get together with friends, consume copious amounts of stuff and enjoy a pop-culture event with no equal. Outside of the host stadium, the Super Bowl is 28 million parties with 154 million viewers, who are there for the game, the advertising, and to be with friends, in that order. The host’s success is measured on putting out a great spread, showing off the home theater, or placing a friendly bet on which quarterback will throw the first interception.

So, what can brands do more to enhance our experience before, during and after the pinnacle moment of kickoff? How can brands connect with the shopper at retail when there is so much clutter and noise in the context of a shopper wants to get in, get out and get to where they are going? At a time when everyone is sponsoring everything, how can a brand be authentic to an increasingly skeptical audience?

When there is so much opportunity to make a great impression for the Super Bowl, brands need to create programming that breaks through the clutter at retail and communicates a relevant message for the shopper. Brands must connect with the consumer in a meaningful way, understanding the insights of what the Super Bowl occasion is about. And perhaps most importantly, brands need to connect to their audience in a way that is authentic to the brand, while most of all remaining true to the fans.

– Contributed by Eric Anhold

Source: ACNielsen: average weekly sales for two weeks ending Feb. 10 2007; BigResearch: CIA survey, Jan 2007

Image credits: In-Store Marketer

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