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Engagement With ‘Last Dance’ Pays Off for Sponsors

(Image credit: ESPN)

As much as fans are enjoying reliving the history of Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls during ESPN’s documentary The Last Dance, sponsors seem to be winners as well.

“The level of engagement for The Last Dance has surpassed all expectations,” said Kevin Krim, CEO of research company EDO. “We knew prior to the pandemic the series would generate interest given its great subject matter and unprecedented depth. However, engagement around this series has been off the charts.”

That would seem to be good news for the show’s main sponsors, State Farm, Facebook and Reese’s.

EDO found that its Search Engagement Rate Index, which measures the increase in online search activity for a brand or product in the minutes immediately following a TV commercial airing, hit levels befitting the story of the greatest basketball player of all time.

Related: Advanced Advertising: 'Last Dance Shows Disney's Agility

The Search Engagement Rates Index hit 500, which is similar to the level reached by the Super Bowl. According to EDO, the impact of one ad unit during The Last Dance has been equivalent to more than 43 ad units during prime time--also Super Bowl like.

"Clearly, positive factors include ESPN's creativity with sponsoring brands and a lighter-than-normal ad load,” Krim said. “Overall, it's very exciting, and goes to show how much people are engaged with this type of content in a world without live sports.”

One spot for State Farm to make it look as if SportsCenter anchor Kenny Mayne had shot it back when Jordan was playing. A viewer who saw the Kenny Mayne State Farm integration during The Last Dance on April 19 was over nine times more likely to engage with State Farm, compared to someone who saw a State Farm ad airing during primetime on competitive networks, excluding sports, EDO said.

The Last Dance also powered a lot of Twitter activity, showing the popularity of the documentary and engagement that benefits the sponsors.

According to research company 4C, engagement with the official hashtag #TheLastDance was up more than 70% the week before the series premiered.

Engagement with the Chicago Bulls is up 321% since the premiere of the docu-series.

“This shows that the value for brands associated with the program extends beyond the commercial airings as people chat about it more and more on social media each week,” said Aaron Goldman, chief marketing officer at 4C.