Home Marketing How the Pop-Tarts Bowl Took a Bite Out of Super Bowl Value

How the Pop-Tarts Bowl Took a Bite Out of Super Bowl Value

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How the Pop-Tarts Bowl Took a Bite Out of Super Bowl Value

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Brands still flock to Super Bowl 58 for its massive reach and potential rewards, but Pop-Tarts and AT&T have worked to make less crowded college bowl matchups into Big Games of their own.

On Dec. 28—a Thursday night—in Orlando, Pop-Tarts parent company Kellanova and its creative partners at Weber Shandwick introduced fans to their Frosted Strawberry mascot… and sentenced it to death. It was lowered into a giant toaster and consumed on the field by the victorious Kansas State Wildcats.

The game didn’t draw anywhere near the 115 million viewers who tuned into last year’s Super Bowl on Fox, nor did it produce the roughly $600 million in ad revenue Fox CEO Lachlan Murdoch claimed Super Bowl 57 did. But the 4.31 million people who watched on ESPN were a larger audience than any college bowl had produced in the first two weeks of bowl games and bigger than the audiences of the following Saturday’s Arizona Bowl (1.1 million on The CW) and Music City Bowl (2.63 million on ABC) combined.

Ads that ran during the Pop-Tarts Bowl outperformed the primetime average by 33% (compared to 307% for the Super Bowl), according to EDO, while Pop-Tarts ads that ran during the game outdid their primetime counterparts by more than 1,800%. Search intelligence provider Captify, meanwhile, said searches for the Pop-Tarts brand are 10.53 times greater than they were before the bowl game.

“Fan experience is a core focus for building brand love,” said Julie Bowerman, Kellanova’s CMO for North America. “From unveiling a mascot you can actually eat to getting a Cheez-It cracker buzzed into your hair at an on-field barbershop, the ability for fans to physically connect with our brands in unexpected ways is key to creating conversation and building brand equity.”

College football doesn’t command the Super Bowl’s nearly $7 million per 30-second ad, but college bowl games—and collegiate sports marketing in general—often involve significant commitment of a brand’s time and resources to pay off.

AT&T, for example, has served as the presenting sponsor of college football’s championship game for a decade and has been a top-tier Corporate Champion sponsor of all NCAA sports since 2002. To reap the rewards of the college football championship and other collegiate sports championships like March Madness, AT&T’s work and those of other brands often starts months in advance—and needs to be deeply ingrained in the sports’ culture to succeed.