Once every year in February, much of America stays riveted to their televisions for that annual sport and entertainment spectacle called the Super Bowl. With its ability to produce a drama on the field and its much-hyped halftime show, the Super Bowl represents the best big-stage entertainment for American audiences. Firms, particularly advertisers, have taken note and created many storied ad campaigns that debuted at the Super Bowl’s halftime. As a faculty at the Kelley School of Business at Indiana University, I am thrilled to write this post because my employer has a relationship with the NFL. Many NFL players are graduates of the top-ranked Online MBA program Kelley Direct, including Joe Thuney, the offensive lineman for the Kansas City Chiefs! Go Chiefs!
One might wonder how this can improve this year, and then Taylor Swift came to the party. It is an understatement to say that she is a cultural icon for the time and has gripped audiences worldwide with her performances. She is probably the only musician with an academic conference in her name; a shameless plug for Indiana University again! Given her romantic relationship with Travis Kelce, who plays for the Chiefs, the organizers must be thrilled at the amplifying effect it creates for the event, drawing a segment of consumers, many of whom are Swifties, who would have probably not tuned in otherwise. From a marketing standpoint, this is as good as it gets. There is already news that health and beauty brands and female-focused brands are buying up pricey spots. Not to mention the euphoria that might swell if the Chiefs win the game.
One thing that probably does not belong in this annual entertainment bonanza is politics. However, given the current state of American politics, it may not surprise the readers of this website that conspiracy theories bordering on incredulity have crept their way into this year’s event. However, I see a silver lining for the game, the event, and all parties involved on the receiving end, of course, no pun intended. I teach marketing for a living, and one thing we teach in social media is that bad news is better than no news. If conspiracy theories bring more attention to the event, the advertisers will probably end up welcoming more of it because it improves their ROI.
More importantly, the 24-hour news cycle will find something else immediately after Super Bowl night and move on it before audiences can internalize any fallout from the said conspiracy theory. From the game’s standpoint, I am confident that its image will not be affected negatively, given America’s obsession with football. From Ms.Swift’s standpoint, she will probably continue to rule for many years and move on. There is very little evidence to believe that a grand endorsement of one side of the political spectrum will happen at this stage, and even if it does, it might have a minimal impact on voting behavior, given the current political climate. While celebrity endorsements can affect voter emotions, evidence of a meaningful impact on voter behavior is hard to find.
America’s issues are more severe, profound, and require a gravitas bigger than NFL, Swifties, and an entertaining blend of the two. Using this platform for political purposes is not the right thing to do. As much as these two cultural icons dominate the American psyche in today’s age, I hope folks on either side of the political spectrum realize and treat them for what they are – just pure entertainment because many of us watch the Super Bowl for the ads, the music, and of course the game.
Girish Mallapragada, PhD
Girish is an Associate Professor of Marketing and Weimer Faculty Fellow at Kelley School of Business, Indiana University. He teaches marketing in Kelley Direct, the #1 Online MBA program and does research on social media, innovation, and marketing strategy. He is also Associate editor at Journal of Marketing and Journal of Marketing Research, two of the top academic journals in marketing.