The Super Bowl or The Olympics: Which event has a better audience?


The Olympics ignite a feeling of nationalism around the world. Ross Hugessen, the Vice President of Ipsos ASI said that “the Olympics are one of the world’s premiere events, touching the hearts and souls of millions of people. The Olympic aura transcends the timeframe of the event and creates lasting long term international goodwill.” In the United States, the event that leads a similar level of popularity is the Super Bowl. The comparison of these two incredibly popular events bring up a common question faced by brands around the country and around the world: is a spot during the Super Bowl or a series of spots during the Olympics a better option?


The popularity and viewership of both of these events is enormous. The 2012 Super Bowl, featuring the New York Giants and the New England Patriots, drew 111.3 million viewers, which increased to 117.7 viewers during the last 30 minutes, according to Nielsen. Between August 8, 2008 and August 24, 2008, the 2008 Beijing Olympics drew an audience of 4.7 billion viewers, which is 70% of the world’s total population, according to Nielsen. In the United States, the total audience of the 2008 Olympics was 211 million, averaging 27 million people per day. Cost of advertising during these events is also a cause for discussion: a 30-second spot during the 2012 Super Bowl was roughly $3.5 million, according to ESPN, while a 30-second spot during the 2008 Olympics cost $750,000, according to the Los Angeles Times.


So the question remains, which of these immense audiences is a better target for advertising? While they both have their pros, it is my opinion that the Super Bowl remains a better audience for advertising in the United States. In the United States, Nielsen found that Super Bowl advertisements were 34% more memorable and 42% percent better liked than normal commercials aired throughout January 2012. A Nielsen survey also recently found that 9 out of 10 US households will watch the Super Bowl at home or at a friend’s house instead of a bar or restaurant. While this is still a social setting, this can help ensure that better attention would be paid to the advertisements. One of the main reasons I feel that the Super Bowl holds a slight advantage over the Olympics is the time period. For 3 or 4 hours on Super Bowl Sunday, advertisers can be sure viewers are tuned in. During the weeks of the Olympic Games, the ease of targeting the audience is lost. How can advertisers be sure that their target audience is watching when their advertisement is shown? How can they determine which of the many swim races a fan is going to watch? These types of questions can severely hurt targeting during the Olympic Games. Lastly, the Super Bowl is known for its commercials. Some watch the game solely for the commercials. The anticipation that builds for these commercials is common and these commercials are discussed for weeks following the Super Bowl.


Both the Super Bowl and the Olympics will give you great exposure to the US market. So, think about it, which do you think is a better advertising opportunity? Tell us your thoughts on Anthem’s Facebook or Twitter pages.


Posted by Frances Giordano on 08/07