The PSA Uses the Super Bowl to Capture Audiences

By: Tom Malone

The Super Bowl approaches. The New York Giants will face the New England Patriots in a championship rematch after each team displaced the Baltimore Ravens and San Francisco 49ers in the conference finals.

Sure, the Super Bowl might not always provide the most entertaining athletic competition, but one aspect of the spectacle never ceases to bring excitement to the screen: Super Bowl commercials.

Some television experts say Super Bowl Sunday draws the largest audience of the year, meaning advertising prices skyrocket. With the right budget, the small screen during the NFL’s final season game can drastically enhance a public relations campaign and extend its reach.

Public service announcements grace the famous Super Bowl commercial stage every year. In 1993, FAIR ran an ad aimed to stop domestic violence. The PSA stirred a bit of controversy with some reporters, but seemed to influence the significant drop in Super Bowl Sunday domestic violence reports that year.

Through a partnership with the NFL, United Way produced a PSA in 2009 that promoted healthy kids and increased awareness regarding childhood obesity. This public relations tactic enhanced the NFL’s image by displaying the league’s consideration for kids and future health.

The next year, New York Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez appeared in a PSA that aimed to raise awareness about female heart attacks. The ad served as a portion of the CBS Cares campaign and further promoted the NFL’s image positively.

Why wouldn’t public relations practitioners use the Super Bowl? The commercial time slots have the power to reach arguably the largest male audience of the year. Many viewers enjoy the commercials more than the game itself. If the campaign has the bank roll (average Super Bowl commercial price: $2.6 million for 30-second time slot), why not use the audience potential to do some good?

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