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Are You Ready for Some Football? Experiential Marketing Shows Promise

Caroline Wu
December 12, 2022
Are You Ready for Some Football? Experiential Marketing Shows Promise

Given the rising costs of digital media – not to mention the recent tumult experienced on several social platforms – it’s no wonder that some of the biggest global advertising agencies are looking to augment digital advertising. For example, retail media networks are now taking on a growing role in the brick-and-mortar environment, lending increased marketing and advertising value to physical stores. And just as retail media networks have capitalized on shifting digital advertising trends, so too can experiential marketing networks tap into the growing crowds at live events.

In-Person Is In

At the onset of the COVID pandemic, some of the biggest players in sports and entertainment took an immediate foot traffic hit as musicians had to cancel tours and settle for Zoom concerts and once-packed arenas became ghost towns. But the desire to gather in crowds manifested itself in creative executions, such as drive-in movies and concerts. In the more than two years since, stadium attendance has risen as restrictions eased, resulting in audiences packing recent live sporting events.

Analysis of the 132 stadiums, arenas, and fields tracked by indicates that foot traffic to these venues is strong year over year (YoY). While visitation to various discretionary categories declined starting around June 2022, Americans still think tickets to sporting and other live events are worth it. Event visits throughout the summer of 2022 remained well above last year’s – when people came out in throngs to travel and party – and stadium visits have stayed above or near 2021 levels throughout the fall of 2022.

Super Visits

On February 13th, 2022, the granddaddy of all sporting events – Super Bowl Sunday – took place at SoFi Stadium in Inglewood, CA, with the Los Angeles Rams defeating the Cincinnati Bengals 23-20.

Not surprisingly, analysis of daily visits to SoFi stadium during the NFL season – which measures all visitors to the wider SoFi complex, including parking lots, concourses, and media centers – shows that Super Bowl LVI on February 13th, 2022 was the most populated game at SoFi during the NFL season. 

Super Ads

The Super Bowl is a lucrative event for TV commercials, and brands invest heavily in ads that air during the game. But stadium and surrounding advertising platforms have tremendous potential to reach target audiences as well, and this has implications for events all year long. While a large audience is part of the equation, for experiential marketing to have maximum impact, an in-depth understanding of event visitors is critical.

Analysis of household income of SoFi stadium goers throughout the 2021-2022 NFL season shows that visitor demographics shifted as the season progressed. During the August 14th, 2021 preseason game at SoFi, the average annual HHI of visitors was 106K, and the median was 73K. During the Super Bowl, the average annual HHI skyrocketed to 142K, and the median jumped to 89K. 

Each event has a unique visitor profile – even the same sport in the same venue can have a changing fan base from day to day – and advertisers need to be constantly analyzing their audience. 

Turning Visits into Value

Live sporting and entertainment foot traffic is sustaining a positive post-COVID trend – phenomenal news in its own right. Even more so, the strength of in-person events presents a golden opportunity for experiential media networks; attendees are eager fans – pumped up to see their favorite team or artist – and advertisers have the potential to equate their brands with the electric atmosphere. Plus, these audiences can’t turn off or fast forward through ad content like viewers at home. 

The tremendous advertising value of large crowds could usher in a new age of experiential marketing, but to make the leap, an understanding of target audiences’ demographic and behavioral profile is paramount.

For updates and more data-driven retail insights, visit

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