At this year’s Super Bowl, Rihanna ended her first live performance in 7 years suspended high above the State Farm Stadium field, singing her hit “Diamonds”. The halftime show was for the first year sponsored by Apple Music, giving the brand a major boost among Football and Rihanna fans. In this video, I’ll walk you through why Apple is the brand that won the Super Bowl in my opinion and share tips on how to apply a similar strategy regardless of the size of your business.
A bit of history
Apple made what is perhaps the most memorable commercial in Super Bowl history way back in 1984. Apple’s 1984 ad is often called the greatest commercial in Super Bowl history. Directed by Ridley Scott of “Alien” and “Blade Runner” fame, the 60-second ad only aired only once, as the first commercial going into halftime of Super Bowl XVIII. It was designed to generate hype for the announcement of the Macintosh on January 24, 1984, and it certainly accomplished its goal. This often leads to the thought that Apple and the Super Bowl go hand-in-hand, but actually, Apple’s history with the game is quite short.
Fast forward to today.
In September 2022, the NFL and Apple signed a five-year, $50M a year deal - for a total of $250M
Apple was taking over Pepsi who was the title sponsor for the previous 10 years
When you hear Tor Myhren, Apple’s VP of Marketing, the decision to jump on for Apple was quick an it apparently only took just one conversation.
While Apple is a massive $400B business, Apple Music is a challenger in the music streaming business behind Spotify [Music streaming slide]. So this is a no brainer to grab the Halftime show.
A quick note that the artist who performs, gets a 10 to $15M production budget. This budget covers 2 to 3,000 part-time workers, including set design, security, dancers, and marketing but the artists don’t get any of the money.
NFL: The NFL was looking for a partner that could make the show “bigger….making it stand way outside of the 12 minutes”
For Apple, this is premium content play. All of the brand’s content and product features surrounding the Super Bowl halftime give the company an opportunity to attract new subscribers, retain existing ones, and woo people to its products.
The Super Bowl halftime show is one of the most valuable 12 minutes of media in the world. What Apple has done, is take that 12 minutes and stretched it out into many weeks in terms of the excitement around it, starting with Rihanna, the ideal partner for it. She hadn’t performed live in 7 years and her last released song dated back from 2016.
When I worked at Twitter, every time Rihanna was in the press - from launching a new Fenty product to attending the MET gala, fans were quick to request the release date for her hypothetical album.
Apple’s marketing approach to the Super Bowl treated the halftime show like a new Apple product.
The cadence was over a period of a few weeks and followed Apple’s product launch playbook: They built anticipation with a mysterious trailer featuring actual radio commentaries about Rihanna come back followed by a a trio of spots - Stay, Diamonds, Run This Town, each one based on a song from her.
Apple Music radio produced 2 new shows such as Halftime Hype Radio, a 10-part series reflecting on some of the most notable Super Bowl halftime performances of all time, and Rihanna Revisited Radio, an eight-episode roundtable exploring the star’s cultural impact.
Apple Music also worked with Rihanna over the past year to remix and remaster her entire catalog in order to be available in spatial Audio.
All the way to Rihanna’s participation to the press conference 2 days prior to the Super Bowl.
So why Apple won the Super Bowl?
Immense reach to build awareness and woo people to its music streaming service
Fox, the official broadcaster, reported that Rihanna’s performance, excluding the rest of the telecast, reached an average 119 million viewers.
Rihanna’s full performance available on YouTube for replay, clocked 30M views within the first 24h
Add to that the additional content such as the trailer, spots, radio shows, and social media and you get another 100M views
By paying the NFL 50M for 12 minutes, that’s $4.1M per minute. How does this compare to other advertisers? In 2023, advertisers were paying an average of $7M to air a 30-second commercial
For the NFL, in addition to get guaranteed $250M over 5 years, they partnered with the most valuable brand in the world and extend their reach beyond Football fans (which is in majority based in the US)
What about Rihanna?
As far as the artist is concerned, I mentioned earlier in this video that the artist doesn’t get any of the money. So why do they do it? Exposure and the data backs it up. In addition to the above mentioned viewership, Rihanna’s music revenues have instantly been boosted. As an example, Spotify saw a major jump in streams about an hour after she hit the stage with one song alone. They revealed that Bitch Better have my money streams climbed 2600% between 11pm and midnight ET. On the same token, Diamonds spiked by 1400%, Red Boy by 1170% and We Found Love by 1160%.
But wait, there is more. Do you remember Rihanna stunt in the middle of her performance? [show video extra as V)] The stunt garnered Rihanna’s Fenty Beauty line 312M impression on that Sunday and an estimate $5.6M in earned media value within 12 hours.
What are the key takeaways?
The NFL, Apple and Rihanna are some of the most powerful players in the world today and this recap aims to inspire all of you watching this video. I’d like to leave you with 3 takeaways that you can apply when considering a sponsorship, regardless of you size of line of business. Sponsorship gives you the ability to quickly tap into a new audience but also woo your current one.
Maximize the sponsorship as far as you can:
Evaluate the different packages and the audience. Is there a package that suits my needs? Look at the size and characteristic of their audience to align with what you have to offer.
Is there IP (logo, imagery, videos) you can use? Content you can create?
Get special access for your customers, fans, or teams?
Can you talk about it before, during, and after? Remember that Apple Music stretched their 12 minutes of halftime show into a month long campaign and after the event, has a collection of videos available for replay and Rihanna’s music catalog upgraded to Spatial Audio.
Don’t blow all your budget on the sponsorship fee
Keep some of it to create high quality content and be able to support the content with paid advertising. If it’s an event, save some budget to show up in a meaningful manner. This is often the challenge small entities face: They have limited budget and put all of it into the Sponsorship and have nothing left to maximize the partnership
Finally, give yourself time to plan and execute and think long term. Can you sign at least 3-6 months or ideally 6-12 months prior to the start of the sponsorship? Can you commit to a long-term arrangement to build the relationship and momentum over time?
Bonus: What if you don’t have money? While sponsorship requires monetary compensation, it is possible to enter into a marketing partnership with only exchange of value. Let me know if you would like to talk about it in another video - I personally have done marketing partnership for over 10 years.
Sorry, one more thing: If you partner with an artist, ora creator just pay them. Thank you
Let me know if the comments if you agree or what brands do you believe won the Super Bowl. Also let me know if you like me to cover another topic.