Super Bowl week is nearly upon us, and while it will look and feel different from past years, all eyes will still be on the nation's "sports and advertising holiday."
Amidst a global pandemic where nearly everyone is searching for something to watch, the Super Bowl will take on even more importance.
Though the hunger for content may be heightened, the on-site experience won't resemble any recent Super Bowl. Veterans PR pros and sports marketers who usually make their annual work pilgrimage to the game will find themselves having the same seat as most fans: their own couch. The absence of what many would call "Super Bowl week," will generate some new trends. Not counting the ads, here are the four we expect to see:
Super Bowl LV will be the largest "second-screen" experience ever in the US
COVID-19 doesn't discriminate just because your favorite team is in the game. Just as large gatherings were discouraged during the holidays to slow the spread, so too will large Super Bowl gatherings.
Super Bowl parties were once estimated to average 17 people per party — this year's gatherings will be much tighter and the number of solo watchers will likely spike. Expect to see social media activity boosts as fans fill the void through more second screen interactivity.
Whether it's texting your friends and family, or scrolling through your favorite platform, game viewers will surely be glued to multiple screens on Super Bowl Sunday. It has been nearly a decade since Oreo "dunked in the dark." This year offers a unique platform for opportunistic brands to become this year's 'second screen star' brand!
Honoring those who risk it all: everyday heroes become the new Super Bowl VIPs
It's true that any gathering, at the game itself or at home will occur because of the help of the everyday heroes who continue to help us get through this pandemic. Here at home and abroad, military service members will gather on bases for socially distant watch parties, many of which will be sponsored by one of our clients, USAA, the Official NFL Salute to Service Partner.
The NFL is reportedly inviting vaccinated health care workers to Tampa, site of the big game, to thank them for their service. With a TV audience that is sure to top 100M, the Super Bowl is likely to ensure that the single biggest audience ever will hear about the benefits of being vaccinated against COVID-19. The message will surely be one of hope and inspiration, looking to a time in the future where we can all pack a stadium again for live events.
You can bet on it... legally
With each passing month, news comes of another record month of dollars wagered on sports betting. Normally the Super Bowl is the most wagered game each year, albeit through not-so-legal or under-the-table means. This year, with more states legalizing sports betting and a flurry of available sports books willing to take bets, the Super Bowl is primed to be the most legally wagered game in history.
And you can bet on it that with more states introducing legislation to legalize sports betting (including New York state), the record won't last long. Expect each subsequent Super Bowl to hit this mark for the foreseeable future.
Brands can still get their message to consumers
Super Bowl Week will feel different as the traditional Super Bowl radio row and the many concerts and hospitality experiences will be downscaled or canceled entirely. Brands can still reach consumers, however — particularly those with purpose-driven messages.
Nonprofits, healthcare, and sports-endemic brands will shift their in-person Super Bowl "radio row" media tours to virtual ones, with many media not broadcasting or reporting on-site this year.
Without needing to build in time to move from one broadcast location to another, smart brands will likely be able to complete more interviews than normal. Other brands will opt for digital hospitality experiences in the lead up to the game, offering fans and business targets the opportunity to e-meet NFL talent.
Oh, and if you have $5.5 million available, you can always just buy a 30-second ad slot during the Super Bowl broadcast!
Sam Stark is EVP PR and communications at 160over90.
This story first appeared on PRWeek.