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In the brand partnership between Timberlake and the Super Bowl halftime show who came out top?

Last year, Lady Gaga saw sales of her digital catalogue spike by more than 1,000% on the day she performed at the Super Bowl halftime show. Indirectly, it’s worth a lot of money to performers. But which brand is bigger? The Super Bowl halftime show or the performer?

Watching Justin Timberlake last night, I was left in no doubt. The Super Bowl dwarfed him. There were moments when watching the show that I really felt as if I were watching my dad dancing on the stage. The cute attempt by Timberlake to end the Super Bowl halftime show in the crowd taking selfies – and it was a good idea, to end by trying to make the statement that ‘hey, I’m one of you’ – backfired when the chosen crowd members looked somewhat bemused and confused as to whoever this aging pop, rap, hip-hop, whatever he was, was.

When getting into partnership, brands need to be able to match up.

And this is the nub of it. When getting into partnership, brands need to be able to match up. The Super Bowl is one of the biggest sports events on the global calendar. It is football game dressed up in razzmatazz. It’s the greatest show on earth. As such, it needs the greatest showmen and women as brands. The Super Bowl halftime show simply can’t risk getting into bed with a brand that won’t keep bums on seats. The average cost of a Super Bowl ad is $5million for 30 seconds. That’s a huge outlay and a huge slice of revenue for NFL and broadcasters to select. That means the brand simply can’t afford to partner with a brand that won’t guarantee the income.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m not suggesting that Timberlake would have in any way had people turning their TVs off. In fact, I would venture to suggest that producers could have put a tub of lard on the stage, sprayed it with dry ice and the audience would still have come back for the second half. But the question is this? How far does a brand partnership mismatch damage the brand? OK, last night’s game was one of the most exciting ever, but had it finished 15-0 to the Patriots would people be keen to tune into next year’s event – especially a global audience?

Ironically, it was a man who could never be in the stadium last night who gave a glimpse of the right brand partnership. When Prince appeared on a giant gauze-like screen, everyone stopped, sat back and thought wow! In fact, the Super Bowl halftime show could have just shown 20 minutes of Prince on my homemade curtains and 110 million people would have been happier. The trick is to make sure your brand partner is regally suited to yourself. The NFL should bear that in mind next year.

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