Watching Super Bowl Advertising is a Team Sport Too

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A five-year analysis by Gallup & Robinson shows the link between viewing condition and advertising recall.

As the Baby Boomers age and more buying power shifts to the Loner typology, advertisers will want to consider how the limited supply of mass audience events like the Super Bowl can also be used to keep both viewing groups engaged with their products.

Most of us watch the Super Bowl with someone we know. However, some of us watch the Super Bowl by ourselves. Watching the Big Game alone is not nearly as daunting as doing other usually social activities alone (e.g., eating in a restaurant, bowling, going to a concert, celebrating New Year’s Eve), but it does produce an experience that is different from watching the game with others with at least one key consequence. People who watch the Super Bowl with others (“Socializers”) are more likely to remember the advertising that appeared during the game than people who watch the telecast alone (“Loners”).

Most of us not only watch the Super Bowl with people we know, but with people we know well. According to G&R’s Annual Survey of Super Bowl Advertising, the proportion of people who watch the Super Bowl with their spouse, their family, and/or their friends has averaged around 87% of Super Bowl viewers during the past 5 years. Whether by choice or by circumstance, about 13% of viewers watch the Super Bowl alone.

There are many similarities between these two types of Super Bowl viewers in how they characterize their viewing experience. Both Socializers and Loners find the game interesting (68% vs. 68%, respectively) and are persuaded at similar levels (34% vs. 32%, respectively) by the advertising that they remember, for example. However, there is an important difference for advertisers. Socializers remember 14% more of the commercials that appeared during the game than Loners do.

The reasons for this difference are varied. Some are simply demographic: Socializers are younger than Loners, with the Socializer group being 40% less likely to be in the oldest age bracket (50-65) than the Loner group. They are also 29% less likely to be male. Earlier G&R studies have shown that younger people and females tend to remember more advertising, on average, than older people and males in most viewing situations. However, the difference between the two Super Bowl viewing groups is influenced by reasons other than just age. Socializers, of course, converse more about the game and the commercials than Loners. However, they are only about half as likely as Loners to engage in multi-tasking activities during the game, such as reading, working, talking on the phone or surfing the Internet. They are 16% more likely to report that they enjoyed watching the game and 29% more likely to feel that they pay much more attention to Super Bowl advertising than they do to regular advertising. It is important to note that Loners are not less attentive than Socializers to all Super Bowl advertising. Instead, they are as attentive or even more so to certain product types of advertising that fit their demographic profile (car and financial services ads), and ads with visual cues that they find more appealing (older celebrities and humor).

A possible explanation for the lower Super Bowl recall levels is that Socializers tune into the telecast more for the total experience of watching the game, including the ads, than Loners do. As such, Socializers tune out less of the ads that are not directed to them. Loners, on the other hand, turn to the telecast more for the game itself and focus more on advertising that is relevant and appealing to them.

According to Scott Purvis, President of G&R, “Socializers are younger and more female than Loners. They also view the game with different expectations about the advertising and are more engaged with it. Loners are more selective of the advertising they attend to. As the Baby Boomers age and more buying power shifts to the Loner typology, advertisers will want to consider how the limited supply of mass audience events like the Super Bowl can also be used to keep both viewing groups engaged with their products.”

About G&R:

G&R is an advertising and marketing research company based in Pennington, New Jersey. For more than 60 years it has helped leading advertisers understand the effectiveness of their advertising and improve its contribution to their business. For the past 20 years, the company has tracked the quality of Super Bowl commercials by polling viewers on the day after the game about commercials they remember and their reaction to them.

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Stefanie Dursin
Gallup & Robinson, Inc.
(609) 730-1550
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