The annual Super Bowl needs to be viewed as an entertainment property as opposed to a sporting event, says M&C Saatchi’s sports and entertainments strategy director, Luke Haynes in a new statement.
Haynes (main photo) admits his statement may be controversial “depending which side of the fence (or the Pacific Ocean) you sit on”, but says for every 20 minutes of game time, only one minute is actual sport, leaving broadcasters with ample opportunity for extra content, particularly advertising.
“Advertisers spend mega money on the Super Bowl because it’s bigger than sport, it’s culture, and culture is made of many things,” he writes.
“In the case of Pepsi, it’s in pursuit of cultural relevance. They’re seeking to demonstrate that they’re a fabric brand, that they’re worthy of a seat at the top table.”
Haynes says Pepsi (which is presenting this year’s Halftime Show) and other likeminded, global brands use such blockbuster sporting events to obtain cultural capital.
This year, that capital is 90s nostalgia, which Haynes says is “back with a vengeance”, considering the performers Eminem, Dr Dre, Mary J Blige and Snoop Dogg – sans Kendrick Lamar – were extremely popular during that decade.
“It’s absolutely about the number of eyeballs, but it’s also a statement of intent, and an attempt to show that after all these years, and with a product that’s fundamentally undifferentiated, that you’re still a culturally relevant brand,” he writes.
Pepsi – which has presented the Halftime Show since 2013 – has a storied history of leveraging celebrities and cultural figures in their campaigns and advertisements.
In the 80s, Pepsi’s ‘Choice Of A New Generation’ campaign featured pop monolith, Michael Jackson, while in the 90s, its ‘Generation Next’ campaign – which originally premiered at Super Bowl XXXI in 1997 – featured the Spice Girls.
Even last year’s Halftime Show leveraged the cultural zeitgeist by featuring record-breaking artist, The Weeknd, whose track, “Blinding Lights”, would go on to break the record as the longest-charting track in Billboard history.
While this years’ Halftime Show seems to be leaning heavily on nostalgia, Haynes says the younger generation’s renewed interest in the culture of yesteryears means the event will “probably work”.
“This is more than a Gen X love-in,” he writes
“There’s a serendipitous coming together of cultural reference points that will excite the Pepsi Generation of old, but also proves their relevance to millennial and Gen Z audiences.”
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