The NFL is doing well. The most recent edition of the Super Bowl (Super Bowl XLV) holds the record for total number of U.S. viewers, attracting an average audience of 111 million viewers, making it the most viewed television broadcast of any kind in U.S. history. However, the growth of its European equivalent, the UEFA Champions League Final, is outpacing its American rival. I personally expect the ratings for the 2011 UEFA Champions League Final to outperform this all time best Super Bowl – but still feel the NFL Super Bowl is the more iconic and impactful sport event.
Two of the world’s biggest teams will be facing each other in the final: FC Barcelona and Manchester United FC. The Final at Wembley Stadium will be match number 125 of a competition that started on September 14th (or even earlier if you’d also include the qualifying matches in this count). The final of Europe’s premier club competition first passed the Super Bowl in global audience numbers in 2009, making it the most-watched annual single sport event in the world for the first time. 2011 will be the first time ever that the UEFA Champions League final will be played on a Saturday evening, aiming for ‘Super Saturday-like’ TV domination and – most probably – the advertising revenue to match. However in terms of horizontal impact, cultural importance, advertising and entertainment value, the UEFA Champions League – in my humble opinion – still has some catching-up to do.
The social and cultural impact of the Super Bowl can hardly be overrated. Because of its high US viewership, commercial airtime during the Super Bowl broadcast is the most expensive of the year. Watching and discussing the broadcast’s commercials has become a significant aspect of the event.
Some random well-known examples include;
- The legendary 1984 Apple Macintosh 1984 Commercial directed by Ridley Scott, and starring Anya Major (also know as Elton John’s nikita) released for a single airing on January 22, 1984 during the third quarter of Super Bowl XVIII.
- The Larry Bird vs. Michael Jordan McDonalds Commercial made in 1993 (What IS M.J. wearing?!) and the 2010 update featuring LeBron James and Dwight Howard
- The 2003 Reebok commercial featuring Tery Tate the Office Linebacker. “The pain train is coming, whoo whoo”!
- The “winner of the 2011 Super Bowl was Volkswagen with “The Force”. Guess all of you would have seen it by now. Click here for some deleted scenes.
More legendary Super Bowl advertising here. The UEFA Champions League does not know a similar culture. The advertising is most certainly strong, but be no means as highly anticipated – and therefore not as valuable – as the commercials on Superbowl Sunday.
Moving the Champions League final to a Saturday will have a positive impact. It will extend the impact of the game and increase its reach and audience. However, Superbowl Sunday is practically an American national holiday! It is the second-largest day for US food consumption, after Thanksgiving Day. In addition the event’s pre-game and halftime ceremonies have featured some of world’s best entertainers and boast some absolutely legendary performances, such as:
- The memorable patience and control of Michael Jackson, who froze for almost two whole minutes during his Super Bowl Performance in 1993
- The legendary U2 Super Bowl halftime-show of 2002, honouring the victims of 9/11
- The notorious show of 2004 featuring Janet Jackson, Justin Timberlake and the world’s most famous “wardrobe malfunction” ever
- Prince’s Superbowl Performance in 2007 featuring the Florida A&M University marching band, the marching 100.
- and the “put the chicken fingers down”performance of “The Boss” in 2009
American Super Sunday vs. European Super Saturday
Reviewing the above I feel it’s fair to conclude that similar traditions surrounding the UEFA Champions League Final still have room to grow. Of course I’m excited about seeing the world’s best player(s) perform in the most important football match of the year and I wonder which team will win its fourth UEFA Champions League trophy (FC Barcelona). However I’ll also be very interested in some of the other aspects around the game. Let’s take a look at the entertainment and the advertising this Saturday. Budweiser has always been able to activate the Super Bowl in a fantastic way. Heineken is an Official Sponsor of the UEFA Champions League and has done some fantastic activations work (check THIS out, it’s great work). Will Heineken also be the biggest winner this Saturday?
Enjoy the match!