Super Bowl host cities normally get flooded with out-of-home ads leading up to the Big Game. However, this year OOH advertising might look different for Super Bowl 55 host city Tampa as rising Covid-19 numbers will likely lead to a significant decrease in attendance.
NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said the league plans to have as many fans as safely possible attend the event on Feb. 7, but capacity numbers—and who exactly will be invited—are still up in the air.
A representative from Outfront Media‘s Tampa Bay outpost, which operates more than 1,800 digital and static billboards in the area, said OOH advertisers are operating with a “wait and see” attitude. “We have had many inquiries and expect to see some last-minute buys based on the attendance guidelines set by the NFL,” the representative said.
Rick Robinson, CSO at outdoor agency Billups, said the pandemic will likely lead to less OOH advertising around the Super Bowl than in a typical year, but a desire to “be there” means brands will find ways to be involved.
“The context will have a different feel with fewer NFL execs, former players and corporate types hovering around the game,” he said.
Mariana Skeadas, local activation director at independent media agency Noble People, said the pandemic hasn’t impacted OOH in Tampa as significantly as might have been expected.
“Many of the traditional advertisers and categories are returning—like alcohol, wireless, automotive—despite the unique nature of the event this year,” she said. “Tampa, for the most part, is ‘open’ so while there will be a limited capacity of fans at the game itself and incoming traffic to the market, there is still a higher-than-average occupancy on outdoor inventory in the area.”
As far as where consumers will likely see ads, the Outfront representative explained the NFL has established two clean zones: one surrounding the centrally located Raymond James Stadium, and another encompassing the majority of downtown Tampa, where most pre-game events will occur. The representative said vendors who want to operate within a zone need to get permission from the NFL and the City of Tampa to promote anything related to the event.
“Clean zones prevent businesses from selling non-licensed NFL gear. But this also means local restaurants and businesses located inside clean zones will need to apply for special use permits to capitalize on the Super Bowl,” the representative said. “Everything that is posted on signs, tents, walls or anywhere around the city within a zone is regulated by the NFL. It basically protects the fans from purchasing non-licensed gear, regulates activities and monitors all advertising near the game and surrounding its events.”
Anna Bager, president and CEO of the Out of Home Advertising Association of America, said local OOH media has been integral during the pandemic and will play a major role in Super Bowl 2021.
“While national brands will be present at the game, it is the local advertisers who will be upping their share of voice during the Super Bowl,” Bager said. “Local restaurants and amenities are eager to reach Tampa Bay-area football fans and those driving into the market to partake in the outdoor activities and events that will be underway out in the Florida sun. As a result, traditional highway bulletins and digital formats are experiencing the greatest bookings.”
Outdoor advertisers will also need to consider the people who might be in attendance, as the exact number of regular fans, as well as NFL executives and players, remains uncertain.