Domestic Violence Expected To Impact Super Bowl Ads

NFL’s off-field issues should have a creative effect on Super Bowl advertising next February.

Well over half of Americans in general (62 percent) and advertising professionals in particular (65 percent) think recent domestic violence issues will affect Super Bowl advertising, according to recent surveys commissioned by the American Association of Advertising Agencies (4A’s) and powered by IPSOS OTX.

In particular, survey respondents believe that advertising during the Super Bowl should be improved in the following ways:

– More focused on families (34 percent of Americans; 33 percent of advertising professionals)
– Address issues surrounding domestic violence (30 percent of Americans; 37 percent of advertising professionals)
– Contain more public service announcements (PSAs) (25 percent of Americans; 38 percent of advertising professionals).

Advertising professionals cited the Super Bowl as “an opportunity to be a platform for domestic violence awareness,” and voiced hope that advertisers would “strike the right tone and do something that feels genuine in terms of reaching out to women.”

However, those same studies indicate that domestic violence revelations and the National Football League’s confusing response to them have had limited negative impact on Americans’ views of the NFL, principally because people’s views were already jaded. In fact, many Americans find themselves uncomfortably torn between loving football and feeling queasy at the way money seems to dominate decisions of the sport’s governing organization.

Three parallel studies commissioned by the 4A’s (one among consumers that was powered by IPSOS OTX and two among 4A’s members through fielded in October 2014 found that enthusiasm for the Super Bowl and its advertising is high, but Americans are hoping to see ads that address child abuse (21 percent of the general population; 16 percent of advertisers) and are more female-focused. Despite the recent domestic violence headlines, 67 percent of the general population and 82 percent of the 4A’s professionals surveyed think people should enjoy the Super Bowl the same way now as they would any other year.

Topline findings include:

One-third (35 percent) of Americans rank Super Bowl ads as one of their top associations with football.

Partying and socializing rank as the main driver for Super Bowl viewing for 36 percent of the general population and 63 percent of 4A’s members.

The controversies are an opportunity for brands and companies to promote positive social messages, according to 78 percent of Americans and 73 percent of 4A’s members.

“In some respects, football is in an ideal position,” said Nancy Hill, 4A’s president and CEO. “Many millions of Americans love the product despite what they see as the shortcomings of the NFL brand. Whether the NFL is willing or able to deal with those shortcomings remains to be seen and could be a side issue because Americans engage with the game, not with the NFL.”

“Brands and agencies have the chance to step up and use football’s place in popular culture to take the lead in creating positive social messages relevant to the context,” said Alison Fahey, 4A’s chief marketing officer. “This is a massive opportunity for creative ideas that convey the right message, with just the right tone.”

This is the first in a series of surveys commissioned by 4A’s as part of a new initiative. Each will focus on topical issues that affect the marketing and advertising business and how ad agencies and brands can connect with consumers in the most authentic and engaging ways.

The 4A’s commissioned the three studies, which were carried out online in October 2014. IPSOS OTX powered the general-population survey, a quantitative study of a random and representative sample fielded to 1,005 Americans. The 4A’s fielded the same questions through to a sample of 408 4A’s members drawn from the organization’s membership database. The 4A’s also fielded a separate quantitative/qualitative survey through to a sample of 119 4A’s executives. Havas PR aided in the analysis of the survey, as well as positioning of topline findings for best media angles.

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