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Intelligence Briefs

Super Bowl sellout shows Australia needs more major sports events

Industry Contributor

Steve Martin, Global CEO
M&C Saatchi Sport & Entertainment

8 December 2019 2min read

The Super Bowl advertising sell-out shows the pendulum is continuing to swing away from digital

  • In late November, Fox Sports announced it had sold all the advertising slots for Super Bowl LIV, which will be broadcast on 2 February, 2020
  • Advertisers have paid up to $5.6m (that’s US dollars) for a slot
  • The price per slot has gone up by more than 107 per cent since 2008
  • Variety reports that it’s the first time in five years the network showing the game hasn’t had to go down to the wire to sell its pricey inventory

My Takeout

Reports that Fox had sold out Super Bowl advertising inventory early came as a surprise to many given there was a 5 per cent drop in US audiences last year, not an insignificant fall for a broadcast that generates viewership in the hundreds of millions.

When it comes to sporting events, the Super Bowl has a unique arrangement in that it rotates between three broadcasters – Fox, CBS and NBC. Few other sporting events have such a setup and in 2020, Fox has the honours.

Of course, the sales of ad inventory depends not just on the viewing figures. The sales teams play a vital role and the Fox sales team knows what it is doing. Still, with the advertising market down globally, to hear that advertisers are looking ahead to February 2020 with such enthusiasm is extraordinary.

I believe it reflects a continued desire from brands to align with passionate and engaging content, a contrast to so much of the content produced by brands that people barely engage with. Live sport is still the Holy Grail for engagement.

Here in Australia, there’s much to be learned from this. Live sporting properties are vital and we need more of them. We need a strategy to increase the number of events held in Australia.

We can’t exactly host the Super Bowl Down Under but what can we do to attract other major sporting events to these shores? Massive live moments create advertising moments and will put Australia firmly on the map for global brands.

The other learning here is the continued reassessment of digital advertising which we’re seeing across categories and brands. In the sporting space, we’ve seen Adidas shift from digital-heavy spend, a strategy the brand says has led to an increase in brand scores and sentiment which dropped significantly when digital was the main channel being utilised.

Major moments such as sporting broadcasts are ideal for brand building as the emotional nature of the event creates a halo effect for advertisers. And this, in turn, links back to sales.

In the coming months, I believe we will see more brands shift back to major broadcast moments that offer scale and presence as opposed to getting lost in the digital world.

Let’s go. What do you think?

Industry Contributor

Steve Martin, Global CEO
M&C Saatchi Sport & Entertainment

Steve Martin is the Global CEO for M&C Saatchi Sport & Entertainment.

He joined the M&C Saatchi Group in 2004 to set up Sport & Entertainment, formed to exploit brand communication and sponsorships in the world of sport, music and film.

Most recently Steve was voted the most influential in Sports Communication by PR Week for the second year running. In 2018, he also received industry recognition award from the UK Sponsorship Industry as the first-ever sponsorship executive invited to join the UK Sponsorship Hall of Fame.

Steve joined the M&C Saatchi Group from Adidas having been at the company for almost 10 years. He was Global Sponsorship PR Manager across all major sports events, teams and individuals. He managed the global launch of the brand’s contract with the NZ All Blacks, still the biggest sports marketing contract in rugby to this day. He also managed the brand’s activation of individual contracts with the likes of Jonny Wilkinson, David Beckham and Zinedine Zidane as well as managing the global PR for the Adidas’ involvement in the 2000 Sydney Olympics and 2002 World Cup in Korea/Japan. Before that, he was Head of PR for Adidas UK for five years.

He is currently based out of the agency’s Sydney office.