As marketers, advertisers and public relations practitioners, we are constantly building strategy around messaging. How to send the right message to a consumer, how to tell the right story and how to attract the right audience all through delivering a clear message.
Last Sunday marked the night each year where millions of people turn their attention to the Super Bowl. While sports fans are geeked to watch their team bring home a win and advertisers compete for the best ad, this year’s half time show won the coin toss for the strongest messaging. In an event where messaging is at an all-time high, advertisers, athletes and performers take the field for one night, all hoping to leave an impacting message behind.
This year, the Super Bowl was the third most-watched television broadcast in U.S. history, with viewership at 115.5 million. However, these numbers were not reached during the game. They peaked during the 30-minute half-time show when Coldplay, Beyoncé and Bruno Mars took the stage. There was no question of whether or not these performers would hold our attention, they did. What had people talking after, however, was the message behind the performance.
Beyoncé and her dancers sent a Black pride message when they performed “Formation,” the singer’s latest single, which was released just the day before. The performance touched on police brutality, the Black Panthers and referenced Malcolm X. Dancers sported afros and black berets, which referenced the iconic Black Panther Party of the 1960s and 1970s. Their dancing formation revealed a large “X,” which was a reference to the black activist Malcolm X. With strong messaging throughout the performance, the dancers’ exit was not shy of a lasting impression as they exited the field with fists held high, that reflects the salutes Tommie Smith and John Carlos gave for Black Power on the Olympic podium in 1968. Beyoncé wasn’t the only performer who left a strong message, either. Throughout their entire performance, Coldplay incorporated colors of the rainbow as a nod to the LGBTQ community.
But at the end, it wasn’t Coldplay, Bruno Mars or Beyoncé that had everyone’s attention. It was the audience at Levi Stadium. As the performance concluded, the entire audience spelled out “Believe in Love” in vibrant colors, showing their support for LGBTQ equality.
Politically charged or not, some of the strongest messages come through those of influence. As Coldplay, Beyoncé and Bruno Mars effectively displayed, their messaging surrounding LGBTQ equality did not go unnoticed and left a lasting impression. As most Beyoncé performances do, heads were turned and notes were taken during the message-filled half-time show.