Commentary

Tears & Cheers: NBC Sets The Field For A Night Of Consumer Talk

If we can predict anything about Super Bowl Sunday, it’s that tears will be shed — and we don’t mean by football fans (although that may be true, too). Why? The next episode of NBC’s hit show, “This is Us,” is scheduled to air right after the Super Bowl, and with a much-anticipated conclusion to a key storyline.

But we’re confident in making another prediction. This intriguing pairing — the most popular event on television followed by one of the season’s biggest TV shows — will increase consumer conversations about both events and any advertising that appears during these time slots. NBC and its advertisers are likely to be cheering, not crying, by the end of the night.

Beyond the obvious benefit of boosting viewership for both the Super Bowl and “This Is Us,” here’s why this pairing works so well: Families and friends will be watching the game and the show together. We know from our research that co-viewing increases consumer conversations about brands, and essentially, advertisers on both shows will be getting a two-for-one deal.

This particular partnership is pure creative genius and designed to spark talk. As “This Is Us” fans know all too well, football is a big part of the Pearson family lore. They’re huge Steeler fans, and Super Bowl Sunday was a family Event (with a capital E) even before patriarch Jack died‚ and tragically more so after. To have this particular show, which focuses on a Super Bowl Sunday of significance in the Pearson family history, run just after the big game in real life is a perfect alignment of stars. 

We’ve written before about how co-viewing of television is an often under-appreciated opportunity to give consumers something to talk about and how advertising should be designed to leverage such events to prompt conversation. This pairing is a prime example of that strategy.

As the most-watched sporting event of the year in the U.S., it’s not surprising that the Super Bowl is consistently, and by far, the most talked-about sports final of any sports league or tournament. Last year, it drove eight times more conversation in February than March Madness did in March, and five times the number of conversations as the World Series had in both October and November combined.

Though it doesn’t attract the hundred-million-plus viewers that the Super Bowl does, “This is Us” stands out for the number of consumer conversations it sparks. The Fall premiere was the most talked-about in NBC’s lineup. With more than 10 million word-of-mouth (WOM) impressions each week during its first month of episodes in 2017, it peaked at 14 million WOM impressions in one week alone. What’s more, the most recent episode of “This Is Us” set a record as the series’s most-watched episode for delayed views, with a total viewership of 14.76 million.

If there’s any doubt that running an advertising campaign on this night would be a success, consider the experience of State Farm. The insurance company partnered with “This Is Us” on an ad campaign in January. It created three 30-second spots in the same style of the popular show and even enlisted one of the actors for the voiceover. The partnership was a savvy alignment of brand and vehicle. Not only did State Farm tap into the emotional feel of the show, it also understood that the show’s audience is a great fit for the brand. In fact, “This is Us” viewers are about 30% more likely to talk about State Farm than the average American, according to our data. Results of the campaign aren’t out yet, but the strategy seems right on target.

As for Super Bowl Sunday, NBC has set the field for a night of consumer conversations. We’ll know right away which team is getting Super Bowl rings, but it will take a few weeks to understand who are the real winners are. We’re betting on a lot of buzz — and some big winners.

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