Is Amazon Primed to Replace Pepsi as Super Bowl Halftime Sponsor?

Is Amazon Primed to Replace Pepsi as Super Bowl Halftime Sponsor?

WANTED: New sponsor for Super Bowl halftime show, with opportunity to replace Pepsi, which in late May pulled out of its 10-year $2 billion deal.

OPPORTUNITY: Possible reach of over 100 million viewers and “the biggest opportunity in music and entertainment of the year,” according to Brian Feit, founding partner of marketing agency BMF.

QUALIFICATIONS: Deep enough pockets to pay what branding experts estimate could be a $50 million per-year cost, a relevant product to sell to an audience interested in music and sports, the ability to expand this marketing push to social media and promotional ads, plus, ideally, some history of operating in the music business. “Brands are thinking about how they could connect the dots: Could the artist be in their commercial? Could the artist do their socials?” Feit says. “So it doesn’t look like they just slapped a logo onto the halftime show.”

THE SEARCH: Nana-yaw Asamoah, the NFL’s vp of new business development, is working with a small, “streamlined” team to find a new halftime-show sponsor to “take the show to the next level” — meaning “someone who wants to come in and understand what’s in front of them and bring creative ideas to the table and what ones are additive,” he says. The NFL hopes to make a multi-year deal this summer.

THE CANDIDATES: “If we’re being real, there are only eight to 10 brands that can do something like this,” says Nathan Hanks, founder and CEO of Music Audience Exchange, which links brands with music partnerships. He favors the first of four companies below that branding experts believe might make the deal.

Amazon

With a substantial marketing war-chest and a music-streaming service that would fit perfectly in “sponsored by” spots, the online giant is a likely candidate. And it already has a relationship with the NFL, in the form of Amazon Prime Video’s deal to broadcast Thursday Night Football beginning this coming season. Rick Faigin, executive vp for Acceleration, an advertising and marketing agency, says Amazon, like rivals Apple TV+, YouTube TV and Hulu, also has the potential to expand a halftime-show deal into other kinds of creative content — like a football-related show a la HBO’s Hard Knocks or a behind-the-scenes documentary following halftime-show headliners as they rehearse. “They’re always looking for new content,” Faigin says, “and there are backstories, preparation, rehearsals.”

Then again, “What [product] would Amazon be looking to move with the sponsorship?” asks Martin Conway, a Georgetown University adjunct professor of sports and business. The company may be satisfied where it is.

Crypto.com

Cryptocurrency companies have spent hundreds of millions on sports branding over the past year: Cryptocurrency exchange FTX bought a 2022 Super Bowl ad, which featured Larry David and LeBron James; Blockchain.com partnered with the Dallas Cowboys for a sponsorship deal, and Crypto.com reportedly spent $700 million for 20 years of naming rights for the Lakers, Clippers and Kings arena in downtown Los Angeles that was formerly known as the Staples Center. “They’re the ones that are spending crazy, crazy money,” says a branding business source. “The traditional brand partners — the Pepsis and the Cokes, automotive, insurance, beer and liquor — seem tired right now.”

Acceleration’s Faigin isn’t so sure. “The crypto world seems to have a lot of money to work with,” he says, “but it’s as volatile a business as we’ve seen.”

Facebook/Meta

‘Over the past decade, Pepsi’s halftime-show sponsorship helped broaden Super Bowl marketing beyond traditional TV commercials to social media and streaming. The next step, Conway predicts, may be to expand to virtual reality or game spaces like Fortnite and Minecraft. Given Mark Zuckerberg’s plan to invest $10 billion in Facebook’s VR business, the recently renamed social-media giant could be well-positioned to take advantage of such new opportunities. “You can [go] beyond the 100 million viewers on let’s-call-it-television, and add millions more, who are not in front of their television, in other places around the world,” Conway says. “I could see people needing to wear a virtual headset to enhance those 12 minutes.”

Verizon

Already a prolific Super Bowl advertiser, Verizon comes with a built-in music connection, given its long-running, six-months-free Apple Music deal for some customers. And last year the telco announced a 10-year NFL partnership to provide wireless access in stadiums and “support innovation and technology adoption throughout the league.” “They’ve got deep pockets, too,” says Michael Provus, chief brand officer for Music Audience Exchange. Hanks adds that these kinds of consumer brands with a history of music ventures “fit culturally” and wouldn’t feel like a stretch posting corporate logos behind Dr. Dre or Madonna at halftime.

Neither Provus nor Hanks picked Verizon as the odds-on favorite, however. “I’m going to go with Amazon,” Hanks says. “Amazon has roots in music, Amazon Music is a huge brand, and they’re doing Thursday Night Football, so they don’t have a conflict.”

Is Amazon Primed to Replace Pepsi as Super Bowl Halftime Sponsor? WANTED: New sponsor for Super Bowl halftime show, with opportunity to replace Pepsi, which in late May pulled out of its 10-year $2 billion deal. OPPORTUNITY: Possible reach of over 100 million viewers and “the biggest opportunity in music and entertainment of the year,” according…