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Phoenix NFL Ad Insights: Are Advertisers on a Fool’s Errand or Hero’s Journey (Oct 26)

October 26, 2020

While the NFL’s return has allowed advertisers a platform to re-engage with a large number of potential consumers, the changes made by the NFL in response to the COVID-19 pandemic and the social justice movement have changed the makeup of the audience being reached.

With the shifting audience, we anticipate changes in optimal advertising creative and messaging over previous years. Like everything else in our new normal, anyone assuming that messaging and ad motivation that worked last year will work this year has unknowingly imparted down a path of a fool’s errand as opposed to the hero’s journey they hoped to be on.

In a recent study, Phoenix MI found that approximately 1/3 of last year’s NFL viewers report watching less football, while 1/3 report watching more. Surprisingly, half of those who report watching more NFL games also report that they are not satisfied with the current experience.

As of now, those 40% watching less NFL anticipate this to be an ongoing change that will remain after the pandemic, while 48% of those watching more report the same. In the end, it all comes down to audience makeup and size. There is much debate as to why the year over year game ratings were down as much as 70% in the early weeks; the fact is they were down with equal people reporting watching more and less year over year, meaning the same set of eyeballs are now consuming more games.

While the demographics of the changing audience are available, it is the new set of psychographics and motivations that must be understood in order for advertisers to optimize the impact of their messaging.

Interestingly, while there are some differences by political party support, it is not as clear cut as the talking heads would lead us to believe, as indicated in the above chart. Additionally, we see a strong dichotomy amongst those watching more football with half of the heavy viewers agreeing the NFL should be involved in social justice causes, and half of the heavy viewers feeling that the NFL should stay out of all political issues and focus on football.

The “new normal” requires advertisers to be diligent in understanding the rapidly changing consumer market’s emotions and drivers for your messaging to break through the consumer’s pandemic and political haze. Understanding the why’s, how’s and so what’s of today’s NFL advertising is imperative if you want to ensure your Advertising Hero’s Journey ends with the Golden Fleece and not the Trojan Horse.

Source: Online survey among a Census-balanced sample of 1,000 consumers, ages 18+, and nationally representative across gender, region, ethnicity, education, employment, and marital status. Data Collection: Oct 2020

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