Marie Clayton of Carat: why Eurovision could be bigger than the Super Bowl for brands

Everybody thinks the biggest advertising event of the year is the Super Bowl. With 98.2 million people tuning in, 30 second ad space sold for $5.25m. What could possibly top this? One word – Eurovision.

Although historically regarded as a quirky continental curiosity, Eurovision has become one of the biggest opportunities for brands to connect with their audiences, almost doubling Super Bowl’s numbers with an estimated 200 million viewers tuning in on Saturday night.

While the Super Bowl’s ratings have been in decline, the cost of advertising during the event has remained at a premium. It’s baffling why more brands aren’t investing in Eurovision and building opportunities to connect to this huge audience. Let’s compare.

Brands need to get on-song with Social

Social media, has increasingly become a large driver of Eurovision’s growth in popularity. The event itself is filled with opportunities for audiences to use social media, primarily Twitter, to comment and react throughout the song contest. If we look at peak social engagement for the Super Bowl, the half-time Show generated the most engagement, and not even the show itself but Adam Levine’s tank top.

Just to confirm, Adam Levine’s show-time attire garnered more engagement than the game itself. Social listening data from Eurovision shows that this is still an area where brands could do more to activate audiences. Aside from local activations from fast food and tourism companies, exposure from brands has been low.

A rare example of a brand not advertising either pizza or travel was Fisher-Price, who advertised a video of their “baby rock microphone” toy, and asked their followers what Eurovision song they would sing. Music brand Sennheiser (posting through their Czech and Slovakian Facebook page) wanted to promote Eurovision singers performing on their products. The Fisher-Price post received 175 views and the Sennheiser post received 5 likes respectively (at the time of writing).

This contrasts with the buzz generated by audiences. This year there were an estimated six million posts on Twitter that mentioned Eurovision. Clearly, brands are not engaging with this audience through social channels in an effective way. There are also emerging video-based platforms such as TikTok, that lend themselves to music in a far more effective way and engage with younger demographics. Eurovision is full of entertainment value. Brands just need to lock into that and offer more of that entertainment value to their audience.

Eurovision gives brands the chance to reaffirm their purpose

Eurovision is one of the only events in the world where politics does not affect the success of the entertainment. In a post-Kaepernick era, the Super Bowl has experienced dwindling numbers for this reason.

In the build-up to the Eurovision semi-finals this year, the contest was overshadowed by political discussion, with hashtags such as #BoycottEurovision2019 and #BDS trending on Twitter. However, once the semi-finals began, the conversation shifted firmly back onto the music. Positive sentiment increased from 19 per cent to 30 per cent with audiences refocussing their commentary on the participating countries and their flamboyant acts. On Saturday’s final, positive sentiment balanced out at 25 per cent – indicating the event was absorbing negative political sentiment.

The singing contest attracts vast audiences from all walks of life. It’s a celebration of being different and pushing boundaries. This provides brands with the ultimate platform to reaffirm their political presence. A platform, unlike any other, where brands can express what they stand for in a contextually appropriate forum.

The World is a (Eurovision) stage

The true beauty of Eurovision is that there are multiple groups within the Eurovision audience to target. Compared to the Super Bowl, one can argue Eurovision is a lot more accessible to different and diverse audiences: Countries will have a vested interest in their own acts, therefore running local market activations will carry more weight.

In Sweden, their Melodifestivalen is a huge event. Over 15,757,707 votes were cast in the final show to decide who should represent the country, with John Lundvik winning with over two million votes. Imagine winning that competition and finding yourself top of the leader board after panel voting, only to lose after the public vote. This is gripping TV people.

But it’s not just countries taking pride in their own performances. Data from Foresight Factory shows 37 per cent of global audiences enjoy immersing themselves in celebratory occasions not usually associated with their own country. On top of that, the same data shows that the UK, US and Australia are in the highest grouping of countries that enjoy those celebrations. Again, these are massive audiences brands could be reaching.

For decades the Super Bowl has retained the crown of being adland’s show-stopping moment. That’s unlikely to change for now, and Eurovision might not be to every brand’s taste. It probably caters more for brands with some personality than those without.

But the combination of Eurovision being a global event, with its huge swathes of differing demographics to connect with, and in an environment that offers both purpose-driven and tactical planning, this can be a bigger opportunity than the Super Bowl. As this year’s UK entry Michael Rice sang, it’s bigger than us.

Marie Clayton is global head of audiences and insight at Carat.

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    Love this article. Eurovision has been an under represented media event which has been under invested in by both US and UK advertisers, from lack of awareness and fear of it being too kitcsh. Besides that the difficulty with Eurovision is how do brands engage with it authentically.

    My Heritage sponsored a lot of content this year for Eurovision but it didn’t seem to land as they didn’t seem to make the correct connection between Eurovision and genealogy (there is a connection in there somewhere!).

    A truly global brand could really do well with an element of sponsorship across all 42 countries of Europe… Perhaps Pepsi going back to their musical roots? Or something more musical like Beats… 200m viewers isn’t something to turn down at what must be a decent cost….

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