Now that Beyoncé has been officially announced as the performer at the 2013 Super Bowl halftime show on Feb. 3, can she top Madonna's record for most-watched U.S. telecast of all time? The Material Girl's performance during this year's Super Bowl reached more than 116 million viewers, according to Nielsen, and was watched by more viewers than the game itself. But advertising and branding executives think Beyoncé has appeal wider enough-not to mention a buzzy post-Blue Ivy narrative-to draw an even bigger crowd.
"She's one of the biggest stars in the world, music or otherwise. She's an incredible performer and is great with brands," Live Nation Network president Russell Wallach says. "The Super Bowl is an incredible marketing platform for any artist, and this puts her in front of the biggest worldwide television audience."
Although ad time bookending the halftime show during the second and third quarters is already sold out, according to executives who spoke with Billboard, there's still potential for advertisers associated with Beyoncé to synch their spots based on their ad buys. Salesforce.com, for example, was able to secure a spot featuring Will.i.am just before the Black Eyed Peas' performance in 2010, while M&M's bought ad time right before Madonna's halftime show featuring LMFAO, whose "Sexy and I Know It" was in the candy ad. With Pepsi sponsoring the halftime show this year, it's possible the brand will tap Beyoncé, a previous pitchwoman, to make an encore appearance in an ad. Thirty-second spots for the 2013 telecast, which will air on CBS, are expected to match and potentially exceed the rates of $3.7 million to $3.8 million advertisers paid last year.
"For people who have bought media time in the second and third quarter, that's a good thing," says Colin Jeffery, executive creative director for Los Angeles ad agency David&Goliath, whose client Kia bought a lot of time last year for its campaign featuring Motley Crue. "The Super Bowl still skews slightly male, so she'll bring the wider female audience. She also skews young and old, so you'll probably see some record numbers."
Further, the anticipation for Beyoncé returning to the stage as a performer is particularly high. Though she performed a short series of concerts at Atlantic City, N.J., casino Revel earlier this year and appeared during husband Jay-Z's recent gig at Brooklyn's new Barclays Center, she's largely been out of the spotlight since giving birth to daughter Blue Ivy in January. "Fans have missed her music and eagerly anticipate her return to the stage," says Jennifer Hageney, managing director of media agency MEC Access. "Media conversations have exploded, with more excitement than we've seen in recent years. Collaborations with big names like Jay-Z, [Lady] Gaga or a Destiny's Child reunion are rumored and adding fuel to the Super Bowl fire."
Beyoncé could potentially leverage the Super Bowl to debut new music, as Madonna did last year with single "Give Me All Your Lovin'," featuring Nicki Minaj and M.I.A., which later debuted at No. 13 on the Billboard Hot 100. The strategy can also backfire, however, as it did for Janet Jackson, whose 2004 album Damita Jo suffered following the uproar surrounding her "wardrobe malfunction" with Justin Timberlake months prior.
But there's also high precedent for halftime performers to experience a major spike in catalog sales. For example, Madonna's catalog songs surged by 214% in the week after the Super Bowl, when hits compilation Celebration re-entered the Billboard 200 at No. 24 with 16,000 copies, according to Nielsen SoundScan. In 2010, the Who sold 14,000 copies of its Greatest Hits during the week following its performance (an 84% increase from the week prior). If Beyoncé turns in a stellar performance, she'll most likely see a similar bounce.