Super Bowl 51: UK fans join in the entertainment

The 51st edition of the Super Bowl proved that American Football has a place in the heart of UK fans.

In the two months prior to Super Bowl Sunday, there were over 265,000 social media mentions around the Super Bowl, American Football, NFL and related terms and hashtags from users in the UK.

In the 24-hours of Super Bowl Sunday, a further 275,000 posts were generated by UK users, almost all on Twitter, and mainly driven by the half-time performance starring Lady Gaga, and of course the Super Bowl commercials.


Gaga steals the show


The Super Bowl half-time show and commercials are almost as big, and as anticipated, as the sports event itself. What is interesting is that, even among a UK audience, the entertainment and adverts aired during the US broadcast drove significant interest.

This year’s half-time show, sponsored by Pepsi, had Lady Gaga performing a 12-minute set with drones, wires, the star jumping from rooftops and towers, alongside a message of inclusion to all Americans that could be seen as a political statement directed to new US president Donald Trump and his policies. Gaga’s performance was described by many as ‘amazing’, ’spectacular, and ‘powerful’, and was the most tweeted half-time act in Super Bowl history receiving a total of 5.2 million Tweets worldwide, according to her fan club, 1% of which were from UK users.

Super Bowl LI gets slightly political


Political and environmental messages were also a key feature of Super Bowl Sunday adverts. The Budweiser ad telling the journey of the company's founder who immigrated to the US from Germany, carrying a controversial pro-immigration message, gained the most traction on UK social channels with over 4,800 mentions in total.

Other brands also based their adverts on social hot topics, such as equal pay (Audi), diversity (Coca-Cola), support of refugees (Airbnb), and Mexican immigration to the US (84 Lumber). The 84 Lumber commercial, although only mentioned in 400 tweets by UK users, reached a potential 4 million Tweeters. It seems that the UK reaction to the advert mirrored US response, where it was reported that more than 300,000 visits to the company's website in the minute after airing had caused it to crash.

Other popular ads


The mobile operator T-Mobile was the second most discussed Super Bowl ad in the UK driving over 3,000 social mentions before the ad was even broadcast on Sunday. The commercial featured pop star Justin Bieber showing the audience the evolution of touchdown celebrations through what was described by many users as “oddly delightful” dance moves.

Yellow Tail’s 30-second advert starring 25-year old Australian model Ellie Gonsalves also drove over 1,300 mentions on social media in the UK, and produced over 9 million impressions, most of which were retweets of Ellie Gonsalves’ own Tweets during Super Bowl Sunday, making her the most popular Twitter user during the weekend.

Popular UK Twitter profiles joining in the Super Bowl chat


Highly followed UK Twitter accounts, from celebrities to news outlets, also contributed to the Super Bowl chatter over the weekend.

A Tweet dating back to 2012 from England national football team captain Wayne Rooney, disparaging of American football, was shared again during the 51st Super Bowl generating over 700 additional retweets by UK users, which could be interpreted as a potential endorsement of Wayne Rooney’s view of the sport.

British celebrity chef Jamie Oliver also took the opportunity to share one of his Sunday snack recipes via his Twitter channels @JamieOliver and @FoodRev, which had a potential reach of over 19 million users.

The British media seem to have played a significant role in driving interest in the event, tweeting prolifically over the Super Bowl weekend, with The Guardian in particular posting more than 100 times, while The Independent and The Telegraph tweeted over 100 times collectively.

Ads beyond borders and brand equity


The Super Bowl, while an all American event clearly drives interest from UK users, possibly more for the half-time entertainment and adverts than the game itself. While advertising is often localised, the Super Bowl is an occasion which sees brands reach audiences across the World thanks to social media. As ever, Super Bowl Sunday is a masterclass in advertising, with the most mentioned adverts carrying strong political and ethical messages, aiming to reflect the current US political and social climate.


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