Is Super Bowl the American version of IPL?

04 Feb,2020



By Prabhakar Mundkur


The Super Bowl represents the most prestigious marketing event of the year. Which is why it draws so many specially made commercials and each has an aura around it.  Everyone is watching the Super Bowl so marketers almost think that they will be judged by the quality of their advertising.   It is also a great place for peer comparison, so how good the advertising is a matter of company prestige as well. It is also the day when the second largest food consumption happens in the US.


Ticket prices normally hit the roof.  This year the cheapest ticket was priced at $4308 with the most expensive ticket going for $385,000.  And the most expensive 30 second commercial this year cost $ 5.6 million. In comparison a 30 second commercial cost Rs. 18 lakh on IPL.  While both are league games one has to remember that the Super Bowl is a one-day show, while the IPL lasts 6-7 weeks, so it is almost like a season.


One difference I have noticed between the IPL and Super Bowl is that while the IPL is likely to have a lot of cricket stars in their advertising, the Super Bowl has a wide array of celebrities from TV, Hollywood and other sports, or in other words not just football stars.


For example, take a look at the Amazon ad for this year’s Super Bowl starring Ellen DeGeneres and Portia de Rossi, where they wonder what the world might be before Alexa.



The Google Ad for this year’s Super Bowl was quite a tear jerker.  I couldn’t help shedding a few tears for Loretta.



Social psychologists refer to two kinds of reactions from sports fans. For those of you who might describe the Indian fans as fickle, the reactions of Indian fans are in line with the global experience.  BIRGing which stands ‘basking in reflected glory’ typically happens when the home team wins and people start feel better about themselves. They will often say “we won”, that’s how closely they identify with the home team.


CORFing (or Cutting Off Reflected Failure) and BIRGing happens at the Super Bowl as well just like it happens at IPL.  This is evident when people use the third person and when Patriot fans say “They couldn’t stop Denver”.  Of course, because the Super Bowl is just a 4-hour game including the break and advertising, the effects of BIRGing and CORFing doesn’t last as long as say the IPL does which is a tournament that lasts 6-7 weeks.


The Super Bowl boasted of a 48% female viewership and in 2019 had an audience of 98.2 million people. IPL has a male viewership skew 58-59% with females at 41-42% which is not so bad.How does the Super Bowl advertising compare with the IPL?  Many marketing experts I spoke to felt that the advertising on the IPL didn’t feel as special.  While many ads are created especially for the IPL, some are extensions of regular campaigns. Certainly, the ads have a lot of cricket celebrities.


David Warschawski, CEO and Founder of Warschawski the integrated ad agency, said in a 2016 article in Adweek “America has a love affair with Super Bowl advertising.”  Would we say that we have a love affair with IPL advertising? I am not so sure, but maybe we are getting there. But we are in love with cricket and if the same passion was translated to its advertising, we might just push the bar a little up from where it is now.


With the Star Re-imagine awards to reward creativity for ads aired in the IPL, advertisers might want to give the IPL a better shot.



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