Loyola University Chicago

Quinlan School of Business

Marketing trends at football's big game

Marketing trends at football

Throughout the past five decades, marketers have changed their approach toward football's big game, says associate professor Keith W. Lambrecht.

With the upcoming championship football game, what are the new marketing trends? Associate professor Keith W. Lambrecht, director of the Sport Management Program, says to brace for the rise of more family-friendly commercials, such as “dadvertising,” and increased social media engagement.

What are the challenges in regards to marketing around the championship game?

First, attending a football game is mostly intangible. You can’t touch it. You spend your money on a ticket, but you don’t leave with anything. These days, you don’t even have a physical ticket to frame or save as a keepsake. Second, it’s unpredictable. The game might not be very good. From a football perspective, most of the championship games have not been as exciting as predicted. That’s why most try to place their ads toward the beginning of the game. 

Those are things marketers think about. They spending millions of dollars, and they just want to meet the needs and wants of their customers. But it’s hard. Using a football game is a challenge, as media usage and demographics change.

What are the new trends in 2016?

Five or 10 years ago, commercials were hidden until their big Sunday debut. These days, they’re released weeks early—or at least teased out—on YouTube. When you spend 4.5 million for a 30 second commercial, you want to get the most bang for you buck. 

And marketers are starting to use social media more and more, because it’s less expensive than doing a $4.5 million commercial. So you see a lot of smaller or minor-league teams use social media to help drive ticket sales. Fans want a more intimate relationship with their teams and social media provides that. The Chicago Bears are on Twitter and Facebook as a general service to their fans. But the Chicago Wolves use social media to help boost attendance.

For the upcoming big game, we’re seeing more and more interaction on social media than what we’ve seen in the past.

What should people expect to see this weekend?

I think they’ll be some advertising playing on the “50th Anniversary” theme. CBS, who broadcasted the first game, has been relying on that nostalgia as they’re set to air the 50th game. Why wouldn’t they?

Years ago, when the games first started, no one was paying attention to the commercials. About halfway through, the commercials started to get more exciting. Then the commercials started to become a bit more brash. You started to see sexualized ads, like with GoDaddy. But in the past few years, there’s been a transition to the family-friendly ads that make people feel good. 

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