3 Feb 2017

Cast your mind back to 1967 and the very first Super Bowl in Los Angeles. NBC have delayed the second-half and the eponymous Vince Lombardi is furious as his Green Bay Packers side look to build on a narrow 14-10 halftime lead. 

The reason for the delay? Not a power outage or too many players on the field, but an advert for Winston Cigarettes overrunning to millions of televisions across America. 

While Lombardi’s fury certainly didn’t affect the Packers who won the game 35-10, the moment became a sure sign that the Super Bowl would become the single most important event in global advertising. 

Fast forward 50 years and marketers are writing cheques upwards of $5 million per 30-second slot with a fifth of Sunday’s broadcast time taken by ads. The Super Bowl is a window to American culture.   

Now, that window is a small hand-held screen with masses of interactive, digital possibilities. While traditional advertising will still dominate conversations around this weekend’s Super Bowl, those conversations are ever more likely to take place digitally with 69% of Americans now on social platforms such as Facebook and Snapchat. 

The medium through which millions of people consume major sporting events has transitioned from broadcast to digital platforms and this change has never been more apparent than at Super Bowl LI.  

With 51% of content expected to be consumed over Facebook, Pittsburgh Steeler Antonio Browns’ Facebook Live Scandal couldn’t have come at a better time for the brand’s new video platform.  

Albeit an expensive faux pas by the wide receiver, the behind-the-scenes content was adored with 17 minutes of live footage being viewed by nearly a million people. Fans will flock to Facebook come Sunday night, not just for rolling news but on the look-out for the latest nugget of content gold.  

With Snapchat, reportedly, auctioning off Super Bowl packages for minimum $3 million, I anticipate big things. Last year’s effort saw an exclusive lens partnership with Gatorade that achieved 165 million views and won The Cannes Lion Award for Creativity. Leaks suggest we will experience two filters on this occasion, providing users with a unique Super Bowl experience from the comfort of their sofa.

However, Snapchat glasses could steal the show. With NFL legend, Deion Sanders, already proudly modelling the spectacles at Super Bowl week, Snapchat’s recent innovation will be on display everywhere and what better way for fans to experience the Super Bowl experience than through the eyes of its biggest stars?  

Those who routinely patrol the twittersphere will also expect major things considering Twitter’s recent match broadcast partnership with the NFL. With 22% of fans expected to be on the platform during the game, the opportunity is ripe for brands to engage with consumers. Whether they can match their digital rivals for innovation remains questionable but Twitter still remains the most immediate platform for game action and instant reaction. 

Whether it’s snap, video or tweet that leads the way in 2017, the competition to be off-field Super Bowl MVP has never been fiercer.