I had the opportunity to travel to San Francisco during Super Bowl 50 weekend. While I wasn’t lucky enough to score tickets, I was able to enjoy a variety of festivities in the Bay and also experience some chance meetings including with NFL Hall of Famer Marshall Faulk.
I’ve shared some highlights and observations below from one of the highest spending seasons for advertisers and marketers. According to Ad Age, Super Bowl 50’s estimated share of 2016 U.S. broadcast network TV spending was up 2.4% double the level in 2010 (1.2%), four times level in 1995 (0.6%) and six times level in 1990 (0.4%), with the average cost for a 30-second commercial in Super Bowl at a whopping $4.8 million.
Fan Engagement: Super Bowl City
As the host city for the Super Bowl, San Francisco turned to a variety of sponsors to create Super Bowl City, the city’s free-to-the public fan village in conjunction with Verizon and Hyundai leading up to the game day excitement. Super Bowl City featured family-friendly activities including interactive games, free concerts with leading artists (One Republic, Alicia Keys, The Band Perry, Matt Nathanson and Chris Isaak).
Super Bowl City also featured a Fan Energy Zone where the public had the opportunity to be introduced to the Bay Area’s leadership in technology and innovation, including the latest in interactive gaming, social media and data visualizations featured in the Fan Dome, the Fan Wall and the Fan Stage. Every day I was in the city, Super Bowl City was packed. I can’t speak as much for the NFL Experience as that required an admittance fee and clearly the lesson here was that people are always going to be more interested in free (especially when they have a choice). It’s also nice that the city stepped up to showcase its innovations - beyond sports - to give fans an “all access” window to the city’s leading technology.
Of course there were other fun events taking place near Super Bowl City including Animal Planet’s annual Puppy Bowl, a crowd pleaser indeed.
Community Resources: Microsoft Reactor
Microsoft sponsored a free to the industry session where attendees had the opportunity to learn more about its Azure technology and how this technology is powering sports. The event, hosted at Microsoft Reactor, is the company’s contribution to the community, offering free space for startups. How they came up with the name and concept? According to the organizers of the event, “we wanted to mix things together and see what comes out.”
At the event, Microsoft presented case studies of how a variety of companies are using its technology in sports specifically tied to the occasion of Super Bowl 50, whether it was to reinvent player and management productivity, create more personal and fan interactions, or build performance and competitive insights using cloud analytics. For example, the Oakland A’s were the first MLB team to use cloud analytics to run their team; Real Madrid utilizes the company’s technology for knowing their fans and helping them engage at a deeper level with the team - whether it’s purchasing kits to dress like the players, getting to know more about each of the players, and of course stream the games; and Alabama Crimson Tide’s athletic department and medical school are using the technology through analyzing sensors on players’ uniforms to identify injuries in real-time and assess whether or not it’s safe for that athlete to return to the field.
As the highlight of the Microsoft Reactor event, the company brought in NFL Hall of Famer Marshall Faulk for a meet and greet (and yes, that’s how I got to meet him).
And of course the Ads…
As I noted previously, spending was up 2.4%, double of what it was in 2010, and not surprising as more and more advertisers and marketers know what a captive audience they are reaching - at least by sheer numbers - tuning into the game (and knowing an occasion where consumers actually watch the ads). And with more ways to watch the game now than ever - not just from a physical TV, but from a smartphone or other device, it’s no wonder companies continue to shell out massive dollars for the occasion.
Some of my favorites? (Most of these make the other top lists as well):