I have urgent, breaking news, but before you read this announcement please make sure that you’re safely in a sitting position.
Ready? Alright, here it is: advertising during NFL games is pretty good at selling goods and services.
After you’ve taken a few minutes to overcome the initial shock of that revelation, you’ll be truly surprised by the extent to which the expensive ad spots during football broadcasts push product when compared to the same advertising real estate elsewhere.
Anthony Crupi of AdWeek tells the story of an ESPN study that either proves how deranged the company is and how much time and money executives in Bristol have on their hands, or that they’re just damn dedicated to showing football’s market value. The company that apparently has all the fun made a fake candy bar called High 5, and branded it with the ESPN logo.
This fictitious piece of chocolate and nuts was more than just a piece of candy. It was an entire ad campaign.
ESPN hired an ad agency to put together print, digital, and television ads that promoted the fabricated candy bar. Maybe the commercials only aired south of the border, or maybe I was too busy running to the fridge for frothy beverages during commercial breaks last fall to notice them on Monday Night Football. Either way, it’s clear that Crupi isn’t making this up, and that the High 5 bar and its advertising was a real thing that actually existed.
Well, the advertising existed. The candy bar definitely didn’t.
The intention of this elaborate experiment was to demonstrate that the ad space on MNF is indeed worth the $250,000 price for a 30-second spot.
Again, the results aren’t surprising, but it’s interesting to see the NFL’s ability to draw eyes to TV sets in mass numbers during prime time quantified. And although we all assumed the league’s power is nearly limitless, NFL ad space nearly doubling other ad space is still surprising.
Once the commercial was ready for consumption, ESPN essentially had the High 5 spot compete with three ads for authentic and recognized national candy bar brands. The upshot: When introduced within the context of ESPN’s NFL coverage, favorable ratings for High 5 increased 40 percent versus when the same ad was shown during non-NFL programming.
Perhaps more importantly, NFL fans reported that they would pay a 10 percent premium for a High 5 bar after viewing the spot during ESPN’s pigskin coverage.
Ultimately, the High 5 results suggest that the NFL is perhaps the most engaging content in which to advertise. Fans have such a strong affiliation with the NFL that it gives a “lift” to client brands—so much so that many consumers said they’d be willing to pay more money for a product showcased in that particular context.
Football makes you buy things, and in many cases it may even make you do it at a premium price.
It’s looking increasingly like this labor mess will be resolved soon, and some sense of normalcy will be restored in the NFL kingdom. Even if that wasn’t the case and losing games in September was still a serious possibility, major broadcasting companies like ESPN, Fox, NBC, and CBS wouldn’t be funneling down the drain just because football is gone for a few weeks, or even a full year.
But all it took was one fake candy bar to show just how much a Sunday afternoon–and especially a Sunday or Monday night–sans pigskin would hurt the bottom line.