What happens when new systems designed to be more egalitarian than past establishments fail?
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Super Bowl LIV (SBLIV) was in Miami, one of the largest U.S. cities with a Spanish-speaking majority and nicknamed as the capital of Latin America. It is no surprise that Jennifer Lopez and Shakira were the chosen performers during the halftime show as they are from the Latin community and are two of the most famous Latina entertainers. Despite the fact that the Super Bowl consistently ranks as the #1 TV program viewed among Hispanics regardless of language, year over year, Super Bowl LIV was the first time in NFL history that appealed to the largest growing minority fan base with its all Latin-musical halftime experience. The musical program is now the most watched and most liked Halftime show on YouTube ever – and it was able to reach those benchmarks within 24 hours. Culturally the halftime show scored a touchdown, however, Super Bowl advertisers missed the multicultural goalpost by not including more ethnic-centric stories catering to the growing U.S. multicultural population.
THE CULTURAL IMPORTANCE OF THE HALFTIME SHOW
The SBLIV halftime show featured two incredibly talented Latinas who shared a performance which highlighted Middle Eastern celebrations and traditional Afro-Colombian dance, uplifted the people of Puerto Rico, and put the current administration’s family separation immigration policy on center stage. All of the cultural cues shown during the halftime program told authentic stories of diversity and inclusivity – defining how multiculturals shape America. Let’s take a look at some of the cultural references that echoed representation and pride on one of the biggest American stages:
- Middle Eastern culture: Shakira’s performance had belly dancing, a style of folk dance which stresses community and the strength of the women doing it. You also hear the mijwiz and derbeke which are two instruments and common fixtures in Arabic folk music. She performed “Ojos Asi” which was one of the few Shakira songs to have Arabic in it, and she topped it off by doing a Zaghrouta which is traditionally female ululation: an expression of joy and celebration
- Dancing: All of the dancing during the halftime show was a nod to empowerment – including a pole dancing routine showing signs of strength, hard work and athleticism – and most of the routines were from Latin or Afro-Latin culture including Champeta, Mapalé and Salsa. Champeta is a style of dance originating in the Caribbean coastal region of Colombia; Mapalé is an Afro-Colombian style of dance that was brought over by the slaves, and represented the fisherman after a long day of work; while Salsa, is an amalgamation of Cuban dances
- Tributes with Costumes: J.Lo’s performance showed tribute to Selena who is one of the most celebrated Mexican-American entertainers of all time. Lopez, who is of Puerto Rican descent, donned a reversible cape showing the Puerto Rican and American flags on either side
Latino empowerment, pride and representation were the top themes throughout the respective performances. People were excited to see themselves, and for their kids to see themselves, represented. The incorporation of Spanish-language was also noted especially with supporting, but equally outstanding performances by two of today’s hottest and most trending artists: J Balvin (Colombia) and Bad Bunny (Puerto Rico). It’s no surprise that Hispanic Super Bowl sentiment after this year’s halftime show was more positive than in 2019 (91% vs. 64%) – which was especially true as Hispanics felt performers brought recognition to their community.*
REPRESENTATION MATTERS: IMPACT OF INVESTING & REACTIONS BY MULTICULTURAL SEGMENTS
Let’s discuss how sentiment converted into tangible results. SBLIV was one of the most watched games in history with the halftime show drawing in a 22% increase, in TV HHs, over Maroon 5’s performance the previous year and giving Fox “the largest revenue day in TV history” (AdAge). Pre-, in- and post-game year-over-year ratings also increased across all multicultural segments. Within 48 hours of their performance, J.Lo and Shakira secured the top spot for most viewed halftime show on NFL’s YouTube and most liked halftime on YouTube, surpassing 1.8MM ‘Likes’. Their music sales spiked, on average, with Spotify streams rising +283%, on Amazon Music +291%, and Alexa requests +365%.*
Real-time analysis of over 2.6MM digital discussions about the halftime show of the Super Bowl showed the following:*
- Shakira and J.Lo had a combined positive reaction of 98.5% within the Hispanic segment
- 226K conversations were among Hispanics which was at an all-time high with 91% of their sentiment was positive
- 334K conversations of African Americans/Blacks was driven with 71% positivity vs. 63% in 2019
- The impact of the SBLIV on positive conversations towards the Pepsi brand by comparing 24 hours before and 8 hours after
- Overall: 44% Before vs. 59% After (+34%)
- Hispanic: 45% Before vs 71% After (+58%)
- African American/Blacks: 47% Before vs 69% After (+47%)
Versus 2019, total day-of Tweets about the Super Bowl showed an increase of overall conversations by 27% with Spanish-language conversations increasing even more so +61%. In essence, Spanish-language contributed 16% of the total growth in tweets**
- 2019: 6.1MM
- 7% Spanish-language (422K posts)
- Sentiment: 30% positive, 50% neutral, 20% negative
- Race/Ethnicity: 65% white, 13% Hispanic (149 index vs. Twitter gen pop), 12% African American, 7% Asian, 3% other
- 2020: 7.7MM
- 9% Spanish-language (678K posts)
- Sentiment: 33% positive, 53% neutral, 14% negative
- Race/Ethnicity: 62% white, 16% Hispanic (166 index vs. Twitter gen pop), 12% African American, 7% Asian, 3% other
As noted earlier, the top themes and topic of discussion throughout the performances were not only palpable on the Miami stage, but also throughout Social conversations:**
- okay but for real, this is such a big win for the latinx community. i feel so proud to be latino and the empowerment these women just gave us all. we won tonight. SI SE PUEDE CHICAS! #SuperBowl2020
- I hope little Latin girls see themselves today and know how powerful they are and always have been♥️ Language and all! #RepresentationMatters #SuperBowl #HalftimeShow
- It was truly empowering to watch TWO, I repeat TWO, amazing Latina women be featured in a “mainstream” show that was televised across the nation!! How amazing is it to see ourselves being represented on such a large stage?! #SuperBowl2020 #Shakira #JLo
- Well it’s official. Latinos are taking over. Loved hearing Spanish at the #HalftimeShow. #Shakira and #JLo killed it!! The rhythm was great. Love my Latino nation!! #SuperBowl
- [Superbowl goes off] [Duolingo courses on Spanish increase 19,000%]
SBLIV COMMERCIALS: INSPIRING FIRSTS AND HAIL MARY’S
In comparison to 2019, Super Bowl LIV commercial categories represented went beyond tradition such as beer, soft drinks, snacks and automobiles, but was inclusive of technology, beauty and, of course, politics. Female-targeted spots were in full force, with empowering messages as were messages of sustainability, homelessness, police shootings, and the LGBTQIA+ community. The universal ads fared well, regardless of race or ethnicity, because there are common human truths, humor and references that we can all relate to, such as:
- New York Life’s ‘Agape’ kind of love on the courageous actions people take to protect their loved ones
- Budweiser’s ‘Typical American’ juxtaposing extraordinary uplifting moments with the common labels placed on Americans
- Verizon’s ad about the ‘amazing things 5G won’t do’ focusing on First responders
- Facebook’s ‘Get Ready to Rock’
- Jeep’s ‘Today isn’t just Game Day. It’s Groundhog Day’
- the next installment of Bud Light’s Post Malone
- Google’s ‘Loretta’ where technology helps a man recall loving moments with his late wife including how ‘she snorted when she laughed’
- Dignity Health’s ad with a German Shepard leading a wheelchair-bound woman, and WeatherTech CEO’s ‘Scout’ ad
Moreover, there were some ads that did feel culturally authentic. Leading the pack was Olay’s all-female ‘Make space for women’ as they specifically had a target for their message. Olay targeted women with a message of empowerment and the potential impact of women across a variety of fields, and this worked beautifully with women empowerment emblazoned on the stage during the halftime show. Other successful inclusive ads were,
- NFL’s tribute to the past and next 100 stars
- Secret’s ‘Let’s kick inequality’
- Pepsi’s bold ad for Zero Sugar set to ‘Paint it black’ with Missy Elliot and H.E.R.
- Microsoft’s ‘It only takes one’ with Katie Sowers’ inspiring first as a female Super Bowl coach
- TurboTax’s ad ‘All People Are Tax People Remix’
- T-Mobile’s 5G coverage ad with Anthony Anderson and his real-life Mom
- Doritos’ ‘The Cool Ranch’ with Lil Nas X, Sam Elliott and Billy Ray Cirus; and,
- P&G’s ‘When we come together’ ad
Out of 72 ads that aired during SBLIV, majority of the commercials played it safe with humor, notable actors and TV personalities that could appeal to a large audience. Although casting selection made major strides in terms of diversity, with spots featuring protagonists representing the Black, Asian, Hispanic, 50-plus and LGBTQ+ communities, overall casting was effectively used to punctuate inclusion. Few ads made any attempt to appeal to the heart of consumers by leveraging a segment or cultural insight. While the ads were appealing not all were compelling.
SBLIV COMMERCIALS: DIVERSITY WITH RESTRAINT. TOUCHDOWN WITH NO CONVERSION.
With few exceptions as noted above, SBLIV ads were close to being truly inclusive, but did not score any strategic multicultural representation points. No brand truly seized the opportunity to connect with the Latino consumer during a Super Bowl that was deeply infused with Latino culture and energy. The backdrop was Miami, a city that bridges the U.S. and Latin America. Demi Lovato, who is of Mexican and Portuguese heritage, opened the show by singing the National Anthem. The halftime show entertainment came courtesy of Puerto Rico and Colombia. Together they all gave us a sensational celebration of Latino culture that was fit for the global stage and indicative of Latino influence on American mainstream culture. Despite all of this, the advertising shown largely ignored America’s largest minority group.
While Hyundai tapped Dominican MLB player, Big Papi – although it was more so for the good-humor over his accent – and P&G tapped Sofia Vergara and her one-of-a-kind personality for a spot that featured multiple brands, overall, advertisers fell short of connecting with Latinos in a way that matched their contributions to viewership of this unforgettable and iconic festivity. While true there was a commercial for Presidente Beer that featured Alex Rodriguez sharing his prideful story as a son of Dominican immigrants, note that creative only aired in Miami and New York.
It is entertainment in the end, but multiculturals are living in a time when they are thirsty for messages that are not only cast-inclusive and engaging, but also culturally relevant as the halftime show proved out to be. Let’s see what next year has in store at Super Bowl LV in Tampa, which is another Latino-oriented city providing an opportunity for companies to score big by truly reflecting today’s New America.
Source: *CulturIntel; **Netbase 2/3/19 & 2/2/20