Study: 63% of Americans say the Super Bowl is ill-suited for political messages
- Sixty-three percent of Americans believe the Super Bowl is not the appropriate place for political messages, according to a study by Burson-Marsteller's Fan Experience group and WPP Group's PBS research consultancy. However, millennials are more open to political statements during the game, with 51% saying the Super Bowl is a "very appropriate" or "somewhat appropriate" venue. Thirty-six percent of Gen Xers said the same, while more than half of baby boomers said it's not appropriate for political messages.
- Meanwhile, 55% of both millennials and Gen Xers would be disappointed if the Super Bowl didn't include ads, compared to 41% of baby boomers, the survey found.
- Three out of five viewers, along with 87% of "constant social media users," said they're interested in the social media content that brands provide alongside commercials during the game. Among all respondents, 64% said they plan to use social media during the game on Feb. 4 — 78% of millennials and 42% of baby boomers. Facebook is the social channel of choice for 53% of respondents, followed by Instagram at 22%, Twitter at 20%, YouTube at 17% and Snapchat at 16%, per the study.
When it comes to whether or not to address political or social issues in marketing, research from different sources suggests marketers need to determine the answer on a case-by-case basis. The current NFL season has been plagued by political and social controversy stemming from players taking a knee during the national anthem amid declining viewership. Following the season-long controversy, it appears that many fans want to focus on the game and spectacle of the Super Bowl instead of viewing messages about hot-button issues. The Burson-Marsteller study found that most fans want to keep their entertainment political-free, but other recent studies have shown the opposite, with many consumers rewarding brands that take a stance on an issue or focus on a social cause. About 70% of consumers believe brands should take public stances on issues, such as immigration and race relations, a survey by Sprout Social found.
For most viewers, the Super Bowl is more than just a football game, but a broader experience with some of the most talked-about ads of the year and an elaborate halftime show — and 55% of those surveyed said they like it that way. Super Bowl commercials are a big part of the entertainment for many, and this year, some marketers have used social media to tease their ads before the big game as a way to drive engagement on their social channels and generate buzz in the weeks before the game, as opposed to releasing the full ad early. This approach appears to be a win with fans, as 69% of consumers said they will wait to see ads during the game. Before the game, 13% will learn about ads from news stories, and 12% (19% of millennials) will look for previews of ads, the study found.
Facebook is where 72% of consumers go to see clips of Super Bowl ads before the big game, a smart move, as 87% use Facebook to share ads with family and friends on social channels. These findings emphasize the value of a comprehensive Super Bowl campaign that includes a strong social media element.