Monday night football took on a new meaning Monday, January 7th with the much-anticipated Alabama vs. Clemson College Football (CFB) National Championship game. Despite the team’s third matchup in four years, 28.4 million Americans tuned in to see Dabo Swinney and the Tigers defeat Nick Saban and the Tide. With viewership for both the CFB Playoffs and National Championship games growing each year, and the 2019 CFB National Championship game drawing 13 percent more viewers than 2018, and with the 2018 game claiming the number 10 spot of top U.S. TV Broadcasts, could College become the next Super Bowl?
A unique aspect of the games are the number of opportunities brands and advertisers have to make an impression. According to Senior VP of National Sales for IMG Andrew Judelson, having three total CFB major games, two playoffs and one national championship, “creates a larger promotional window for advertisers and marketers and sponsors to activate around and for consumers to engage with,” meaning that unlike the Super Bowl brands have three chances instead of one to break through and make an impact. These spots come with a price however, with advertisers paying up to $1 million per 30 seconds of play time, so it pays to have a backup in your playbook. Which is what brands like Taco Bell have done through advertising both on and off the field. This year Taco Bell sponsored the Live Mas Student Section, which assembled a “group of college football experts from around the country to watch, rank and reward student sections each week before an overall Live Más Student Section of the Year winner is crowned at the end of the season” throughout the thirteen week regular season. Additionally, Taco Bell continued its sponsorship this year of 500 students seats in the CFB Playoff and National Championship games. Taco Bell didn’t stop there but went overtime with an additional Twitter campaign featuring #TheTacoBellShow at the #TacobellTailgate with students and fans at the game.
Pairing traditional media channels with social media is a safe and smart bet for brands looking to utilize college sports as a spring board into the CFB arena. Football teams themselves bring hefty followers, with the University of Alabama Football @alabamafb Instagram with 700K followers and Clemson University Football @clemsonfb coming in with 384K Instagram followers, teams bring their fans with them. Twitter utilized these teams followers as well as the trending nature of the #NationalChampionship game to launch their #LockedIn campaign on both Clemson and Alabama Football Twitter accounts. Both teams tweeted that they were #LockedIn for the #NationalChampionship accompanied by a video montage of tweets and players post-press conference.
The CFB Playoffs and National Championship games give brands an opportunity to tap into huge viewership and followers, while bypassing the deluge and hype of Super Bowl ads, which is a win no matter who you pull for.