By Barry Janoff
January 23, 2015: While Tom Brady, Rob Gronkowski, Russell Wilson, Richard Sherman and their respective teams compete on the field in Super Bowl XLIX for the Lombardi Trophy, Anheuser-Busch, Pepsi, Unilever, Kia and a bevy of marketers will be competing on-air for the attention of viewers.
With companies spending upward of a record $4.5 million for 30 seconds of airtime, and possibly more than $330 million overall, to advertise on NBC during the Big Game, the stakes are high when it comes to such key metrics as brand awareness and conveying a call to action that turns watchers into buyers.
The early numbers, at least, look good for companies that have commercials running on Feb. 1.
The game between the defending NFL champion Seattle Seahawks and the New England Patriots will be the catalyst for what could be a record in viewing and spending, according to the just released Super Bowl Spending Survey from the National Retail Federation, the trade association that represents more than 1.6 million businesses worldwide.
Industry analysts predict the TV ratings might equal or surpass what translated to an average of 112.2 million viewers reported by the NFL and broadcast network Fox last year for Super Bowl XLVIII, which was the most watched Super Bowl and the most watched program in U.S. television history.
All told, NRF expects some 184 million people to be watching the game, which they said takes into account not just the traditional TV ratings numbers but the multitude of instances where numerous people will be gathered together around TV sets and other media outlets.
The amount of money people will spend in conduction with the Super Bowl will also reach a new high, with people potentially spending a average of $77.88 — up from $68.27 last year — on such items as food, new TVs, athletic wear and decorations for Super Bowl parties, according to the NRF survey.
Total spending is expected to reach $14.3 billion, which the NRF said is an "extrapolation of U.S. population ages 18 and above."
Among those surveyed by Prosper Insights & Analytics for the NRF, 79.3% said they would purchase food and beverages, 10.8% would buy team apparel or accessories and 8.8% said they would acquire TVs to watch the game at home.
Meanwhile, nearly 43 million people are either planning to host a Super Bowl party or attend one, with another 13 million planning to watch the game at a restaurant, bar or other food establishment.
Calling it the "second biggest eating day of the year after Thanksgiving," the National Chicken Council said that on Super Bowl Sunday 1.25 billion wings will be eaten, 56% with ranch dressing, the equivalent of putting 572 wings on every season in all 32 NFL stadiums. According to Harry Balzer, chief industry analyst and vp for research and analysis firm The NPD Group, "We know wing consumption increases more than other foods during the Super Bowl."
As for those $4.5 million spots, 77.1% of those surveyed say they look at Super Bowl commercials as entertainment, and 20.1% feel that the commercials make them more aware of the advertiser’s brand.
“With renewed confidence in the economy and the outlook for 2015, consumers are looking forward to some good old-fashioned fun with their friends and family to celebrate the big game,” Matthew Shay, president and CEO for the Washington, D.C.-based NRF, said in a statement. “Retailers will take full advantage of the expected traffic from avid fans by making sure they have adequately invested in décor, party food and accessories and other Super Bowl-related inventory.”
And as for Pepsi's investment of title sponsorship of the Super Bowl Halftime Show, this year starring Katy Perry, 11.9% of those surveyed say it is the most important part of the game.
Last year, a record viewership of 115.3 million watch the Pepsi-sponsored half time show with Bruno Mars, which topped the 114 million who watched Madonna during Super Bowl XLVI and the 110 million viewership during Beyoncé's performance during Super Bowl XLVII.
Of, course, there are people who do not have favorable opinions of the commercials, including 16.6% who feel that advertisers should save their money and pass the savings along to the consumers and 9.7% who believe the commercials make the game last too long.
Broken down by demographics, adults ages 18-24 plan to spend an average of $95.92; people 25-34 will spend an average of $101.54 and the 35-44 age range will come in with an average spend of $102.82, according to NRF..
“More viewers than ever are planning to tune in on game day this year as these connected consumers reach to multiple channels to join in with other fans and follow their favorite national brands,” Pam Goodfellow, principal analyst for Prosper Insights & Analytics, said in a statement. “Beyond the game, viewers will use this day to catch up with friends and family and treat themselves to their favorite game day treats.”
The survey was conducted for NRF among 6,375 people from Jan. 6-13, 2015 (with a margin of error of plus-or-minus 1.3 percentage points).
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