Super Bowl

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Super Bowl: a case study of buzz marketing

Keywords
Super Bowl event marketing internet advertising buzz marketing word of mouth advertising tools

Abstract
In the US, the Super Bowl is annually the nation’s highest-rated TV programme and the most watched single-day sporting event. But could the Super Bowl, like other sporting events that traditionally attracted millions of people, fall prey to competition? This case study argues that despite the increasing fragmentation of viewing audiences, Super Bowl is an event in itself. The case describes the marketing and social environment encompassing the Super Bowl, and addresses the metamorphosis that has helped it maintain its competitive edge. The study concludes with a discussion of buzz marketing as a complete solution for maintaining competitiveness in today’s sporting environment.

CASE STUDY

Iris Mohr
Associate Professor, Marketing Department, Tobin College of Business St John’s University, 8000 Utopia Parkways, Jamaica, NY 11439, US Tel: +1 718 990 7307 Email: mohri@stjohns.edu

Peer reviewed

Executive summary
When it comes to American football, the Super Bowl is the premier game of the National Football League (NFL) in the United States. The Super Bowl is annually the nation’s highest-rated TV programme and the most watched single-day sporting event. A great deal of excitement revolves around the game, the halftime show and the advertisements. The game tends to have high Nielsen television ratings and on average 80–90 million Americans are tuned into the Super Bowl at any given moment (Associated Press, 2007). With consumers more broadband- and wirelessconnected, Super Bowl has become an entertainment and social extravaganza in its own right, and has emerged as ‘must watch’ television. But what happens when the few TV programmes that traditionally attracted millions of people fall prey to competition? Despite the hype surrounding the 2006 Winter Olympics, the Games proved no match for television’s gold medal-winning American Idol. Given that the sporting environment is moving in

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OCTOBER 2007

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International Journal of Sports Marketing & Sponsorship

33

Super Bowl: a case study of buzz marketing

unexpected directions, is it possible that the American Idol phenomenon could happen to Super Bowl? This case argues that unlike the Olympics, Super Bowl is not only about competition between TV networks, the game itself or about the specific ads, but about the social dimension of the event – the parties, gatherings and betting – which made it a shared national experience. The game and its ancillary festivities constitute Super Bowl Sunday, which over the years has become likened to an unofficial American national holiday. This case study describes the marketing and social environment encompassing the Super Bowl sporting event, and addresses its metamorphosis over the years, which has helped it maintain its competitive edge. Finally, the case concludes with a discussion of buzz marketing as a complete solution to improve the chances of maintaining competitiveness in today’s sporting environment. CASE STUDY

This year’s crop of Super Bowl ads was notable because they were available almost immediately online

Introduction
Today the sporting industry is moving in unexpected directions and is vulnerable to changing consumer behaviour, generational shifts, new technologies, media clutter, audience fragmentation, ambush marketing and increasing competition. Traditional communications vehicles such as advertising and sales promotion are faced with increasingly fragmented consumer markets and an overabundance of messages and clutter aimed at consumers (Meenaghan, 1998). Even with today’s fragmentation trend, the Super Bowl is annually the nation’s highest-rated TV programme and America’s most watched single-day sporting event. The Super Bowl is a grandiose event that people anticipate from the start of the football season. For spectators,...
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