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Major sports events and the attraction of advertising revenue – the case of the Super Bowl

The biggest sports events are so important to sports fans that they have been transformed to cultural trademarks so essential that even the commercials make noise and attract the interest of fans and corporations in a well-balanced entertainment show that acts as an event in the event. In the case of the Super Bowl, this development is illustrated by the rapid increases in advertising spending and TV viewership, see graphics below.

SuperBowl ad spending since 2003Skærmbillede 2014-06-19 kl. 08.43.24

Graphics: Super Bowl Ad Spending 2003-2012 (source: Kantar Media) and TV viewership of the Super Bowl in the US 1990-2014 (source: Statista).

So, along with other major sports events like the UEFA Champions League Final, the Super Bowl rates in the top measured on the most-watched annual sports event on TV. This popularity has a positive correlation with consumer spending, which to some extent explain why corporations invest heavily in sports. Simply, there is a commercial interdependence between sports sponsorship, fan identification and the passionate sports fan behavior stimulating intensions to purchase.

Skærmbillede 2014-06-19 kl. 08.51.29

Graphic: Super Bowl related consumer spending in the US 2007-2014 (source: Statista).

Media corporations hold a powerful role in determining the future development of the business models associated with major sports events. Right now, we have a seen a scenario in which media corporations can invest highly in sports events due to the corporate willingness to allocate money to brand promotion via sports. At the same time, there is an interrelationship between media corporations and sports rights holders in the sense that major sports events can also attract sponsorship revenue due to the fact that these events appeal to massive amounts of fans globally. This may also explain why the business model of media corporations may stimulate ‘ambush marketing in sports‘. The latter situation happens because corporations are strategic about the fact that it is difficult for the NFL, FIFA and other sports rights holders to control more than the commercial access to specific physical zones given the ambiguity that has grown due to globalization and the surrounding media and social media context around major sports events. This may (from a ceteris paribus perspective) have a devaluating effect on the price setting on Super Bowl sponsorships although that is not necessarily the case in practice.  New commercials have their own and fruitful viral impact on TV or via social media and thus underscore the recent development where commercials are created in the form of small films (Nike’s ‘the Last Game’ or Beats by Dre’s ‘The Game before the Game’) with their own life and existence for sports fans. Oreo’s famous 2014 Super Bowl tweet ‘You can still dunk in the dark’ illustrates how a corporations can win from the association with the Super Bowl without investing large amounts of money to become an official sponsor. With this in mind, ad spending will continue to rise in the future as the passion of major sports events like the Super Bowl will not slow down.




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