Super Bowl 2017: Get Social Off the Sidelines


Editor’s Note:  This is the second in a five part series where we discuss the brand stories tied to participation in big event marketing.  Click here to read Part I.

Super Bowl 2017 Advertising - Only the Strategic Will SurviveBy Brian Cristiano, Founder & CEO, BOLD Worldwide

The fractured media landscape has been a pain point for brand marketers for the past few years — and now it’s also become a problem trying to reach sports fans. Marketers are finally starting to ask the right questions: If people aren’t tuning into live television advertisements anymore, how can I reach them? How can I can engage with fans in real time? What’s the secret to blending broadcast with digital? The solution for all these questions is clear: social media integration.

“But second-screen marketing dropped in 2016,” you say? Well, last year 83 percent of Super Bowl viewers used a second screen during the game. Even though social use was down from a record-breaking 2015, taking a look back at other hallmark sporting moments this past year indicates that social media integration is going to be more crucial than ever.

So what platforms stand to win big for Super Bowl LI? I’m putting my money on Twitter. Whatever Twitter’s other problems are as a company, the platform is perfectly positioned for live events because it allows users to interact with brands and peers in real time. Even if Thursday Night Football viewing on Twitter hasn’t blown anyone away, Twitter still has the conversation — it’s the go-to environment for trash-talking and camaraderie.

Not all platforms are as primed for live event engagement as Twitter, especially for brands. Snapchat, for one, won’t be winning any trophies for true brand engagement during the game. Despite its enormous growth since last year’s Super Bowl, Snapchat is a closed-off platform that doesn’t allow for conversation outside of your existing friends. Nothing “goes viral” on Snapchat the way it does on Twitter. Brands still have the opportunity to create great content for Snapchat, but I expect the bulk of engagement to come from Twitter and Facebook, so Snapchat content has to be part of a greater cross-channel campaign.

With that said, Snapchat still managed to make a huge splash last year with a brand (Gatorade) that was a perfect fit for the night. So, this year the platform is reportedly offering $5 million packages and other ad offerings. While I expect to see continued growth from Snapchat, unless you’re Gatorade, I truly don’t see the value in paying $5 million, unless it’s supporting a broadcast ad. Those who can afford $5 million in ads might as well spring for a fully integrated option for a few million more. Combining broadcast with a Snapchat package will give brands the impact worth their money, but trying Snapchat without broadcast will result in a lost message and lost money.

There is more opportunity than ever for brands to connect with fans, but to “win” it’s going to take an integrated approach with a clearly defined reason for fans to engage. If companies simply try to place media against the Super Bowl on social, they will only be disruptive. Brands need to become part of the conversation to come out on top. In the end, that conversation will be on Twitter – the platform was designed for this night.


About the Author: Sports fan, marketing expert, entrepreneur, competitive cyclist, husband, rescue dog dad. As Founder and CEO of BOLD Worldwide, Brian Cristiano helps sports brands like Polar, R&A Cycles, the New York Mets, Pepsico, and Feetures find their voice in a notoriously crowded space. Brian is exhilarated by the constantly evolving sports marketing scene and pours that enthusiasm into each episode of his daily podcast, the Sports Marketing Huddle, a show for the forward-looking sports marketing pro. He has a deep understanding of how social, video, emerging technology, and live activations contribute to sports, fitness, and lifestyle brands. This knowledge and awareness enable the team at BOLD deliver innovative results for clients, while Brian’s passion for sports marketing drives him and his team to consistently create cutting-edge content light years ahead of competition. 


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