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An ‘Asian Super Bowl’ would prove to be a boon to savvy advertisers

THIS PAST Monday, we witnessed a sea of red on social media. Netizens proudly posted pictures of their family gatherings, alongside slaughtered pigs and chickens and, most important, the ‘Ang Pao’ envelopes received from their elders as a way of pledging

To my surprise, it was also a day when a lot of people here in Thailand emerged as self-proclaimed experts on the Super Bowl – the 50th edition of the annual championship game of America’s National Football League (NFL), to be exact.
This was American imperialism at its best, where conversations about the American game took centre stage, as viewers worldwide and notably more than a third of the US population took to social media to express their views, celebrating the winner and, of course, to troll the loser.
According to Nielsen ratings, the 111.9 million viewers who tuned in to the game were just 2 per cent shy of last year’s record viewership and the third-largest audience in US television history. In terms of reach, the game drew 167 million who watched the game for at least six minutes, a historical record.
I specifically mentioned the |success of American imperialism as the focal point of this topic |because gridiron football feels virtually alien to me, a typical Asian guy living in a nation where soccer is the national obsession. Not exactly the type of profile advertisers would like to target through the Super Bowl.
Yet, as an event, it made a lot of noise. It has an appeal that transcends borders, languages and any kind of sporting knowledge of the game.
Whether or not you are well versed in the language and tactics of gridiron football, you cannot deny that people all over the world eagerly waited in great anticipation to witness the spectacles that the event promised to offer during half-time.
More importantly for marketing practitioners, it was a stage where the world’s most creative advertising works were showcased in attempt to grab the average viewer’s attention.
So it was not surprising that viewership peaked at 115.5 million during the half-time break not only to witness Beyonce, Coldplay and Bruno Mars show off their swagger, but actually to watch the ads during the intermission!
Now how was that possible? People waiting eagerly to watch ads?
Over the span of half a century, the Super Bowl has successfully established a half-time celebratory culture that entices people to wait keenly for creative works from their favourite brands and, more recently, engage with them. No other sporting event can truly claim this feat.
One work that definitely stood out and deserves a special men-|tion was Jeep’s “Portraits” ad, |perfectly run and planned by Global Media Agency of the Year Universal McCann (UM), an important media arm of IPG Mediabrands.
Aside from the nostalgic feel |of the execution that celebrated Americans’ relationship with the brand throughout its 75-year history, what made the ad truly remarkable was that it used only a third of the screen.
The ad was made with the smaller screen in mind, largely because of viewers’ changing media-consumption behaviour.
This was the epitome of progress, keeping up with the |times and the era’s evolutionary devices.
According to the Columbia Broadcasting System, streaming coverage of the game on CBS and NFL properties averaged 1.4 million viewers, and viewers consumed more than 315 million minutes of coverage across laptops, desktops, tablets, connected TV devices and mobile phones. This excludes other non-official streaming sites that reached millions unaccounted for.
Implication 1: Multi-screening planning is now and next. If you are not planning for other screens aside from TV, you’re missing out on the golden opportunity to gain incremental reach.
Innovative media-planning initiatives like this are one of many reasons UM was recently named Adweek’s Global Media Agency of the Year, having also retained J&J’s global businesses last October.
Jeep’s “Portraits” ad was also the No 1 advertisement on Super Bowl on Facebook in terms of engagement rate, according to Adweek. This includes total views, likes, comments, shares and tweets. |Not bad for an ad that featured just a montage of static black-|and-white photos and a cheery piano score. Oh, it did cost |Jeep a mere US$10 million |(Bt355 million) to air it for 60 seconds.
Implication 2: Context and moment. Keep them engaged under the atmosphere of the carnival.
Finally, you may wonder, what does this have to do with Asia and an Asian context?
We have a sporting event like the AFC (Asian Football Confederation) Champions League final and the regional Suzuki Cup final to utilise and possibly the final of the Thai FA Cup, to give the context a more local flavour.
The passion for sport is there, the rivalry between the tribes exists, the technology and infrastructure are ready and, most important, the media behaviour has evolved.
All we need now is to create a carnival atmosphere that is uniquely Asian, uniquely Thai, and emulate a tried-and-tested model that has succeeded over the years and finally to call it our own – and own it.

Pradon Sirakovit is associate director for corporate communications at IPG Mediabrands

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