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Future of TV John West Super Bowl

Whistle Sports CEO John West on how brands can reach millennials during Super Bowl 50


By Adam Flomenbaum, Co-Executive Editor

February 1, 2016 | 5 min read

Super Bowl viewership numbers continue to increase, but so too does second screen use during the game.

MIllennials love sports and they love creative advertising, but they also love their smartphones, tablets and laptops; for brands spending millions of dollars during the game, capturing the attention of millennials is more important than ever.

Whistle Sports, the digital sports media company with over 300 YouTube channels and 140 million aggregated fans and followers, has researched millennial media consumption habits and the company’s CEO, John West, thinks that success for brands with millennials during Super Bowl 50 boils down to five things: being mobile, multiplatform, authentic, responsive, and short.

For more on how brands can reach their most coveted audience, we spoke with West:

Found Remote: How can brands capitalize on Super Bowl buzz even if they don't have a traditional ad running during the game?

John West: Since the Super Bowl is the most watched television event of the year, the challenge to brands is how to have an authentic, engaging and witty presence to cut through all of the Super Bowl noise. With over 24.9 million tweets, more than 65 million Facebook posts and 4 million hours spent on YouTube on Super Bowl ads alone from Super Bowl 49, brands have to look for a unique place to have their content stick out during Super Bowl 50 and the days and weeks leading up to it.

While interest in the game peaks on Sunday night, brands need to plan to be part of the buildup in fan intensity and interest leading up to the game and be flexible enough to be part of the conversation during the days that follow. That means content that triggers conversation and an active role in responding to commentary as it happens. Everyone mentions the Oreo blackout tweet as the high water mark for spontaneous fan engagement, but that kind of lightning in a bottle happens as rarely as the lights going out during the big game. Better to have a strategy day-by-day to build up beforehand.

FR: Which brands are already doing a great job engaging millennials based on your five ways? Who will you be looking to make a splash this year?

West: To create engagement with their #PepsiSB50Sweepstakes that will bring some lucky fans to the big game, Buffalo Wild Wings and Pepsi have been engaging millions of fans online. They teamed up with YouTube personality Scooter Magruder and NFL player Derrick Brooks to create a four-part series around football fan stereotypes such as “Linebackers Be Like” or “Frenemies.” The videos, which already have over 4.5 million views on Facebook alone, were shown on multiple social platforms, were short and sweet to resonate on mobile, were authentic both to Scooter’s brand of comedy and Derrick’s legacy on the field, and were responsive to the audience with the contest.

FR: Why is it so important to "be mobile" and to "be multiplatform" even when most people will still watch the game on TV?

West: While we still think of the Super Bowl as a bunch of friends gathered around the largest possible screen to watch the broadcast in real-time, the odds are that many to most of those friends will have another screen open and active in their hand between them and the Big Game. Head into any sports bar in the country on any given night and the odds are that millennials and younger will have their heads down and thumbs engaged while also paying attention to the broadcast. This doesn’t change just because it’s the biggest game of the year and they’re watching in their living room, instead of in a bar or restaurant.

Compared to the 114.4 million people that tuned in to watch Super Bowl 49, the conversation was even bigger on social media, where 3.67 billion posts were sent. As we look towards Super Bowl 50, we assume that multiple platforms and mobile conversations will continue to enhance Super Bowl consumption and brands will work towards being an important part of the conversation.

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