Super Bowl

Is Madonna the Worst Choice Ever for a Super Bowl Halftime Show?

Social Sentiment About the Material Girl's Imminent Performance: Negative!

By Published on .

Friday's New York Post
Friday's New York Post

Madonna is on the cover of the New York Post today for having done a Victor Cruz-style salsa victory dance at a press conference yesterday. You'll be forgiven if you suspect that the Material Girl was merely engaging in a last-minute attempt to associate herself somehow with something football-ish as her Super Bowl halftime show approaches. Madonna said that in addition to intense rehearsals, she'd be relying on "the support of the universe and the grace of God" to pull off her performance.

The support of the universe? I guess the universe doesn't include football fans, who have been grumbling in social media about Madonna since the announcement of her halftime gig was first made in December. And it didn't help Madonna's cause that there was also a good bit of grumbling about her appearance on the Golden Globes telecast last month. She may have sold hundreds of millions of records, but a lot of very vocal people seem to be very sick of Madonna.

Ad Age has been working with Networked Insights, a social-media analytics company that advises brands and agencies on media planning, to track social sentiment surrounding Madonna.

Credit: Jo Hale, Getty Images (Madonna)

Some notes and context:

  • Networked Insights tracks sentiment across the social web, including Twitter and Facebook, but also in forums and blog posts. Over the past couple of months, the No. 1 recurring theme (at 45% of volume) in social-media commentary about Madonna's upcoming Super Bowl halftime show is that she was a lousy choice (on the part of NFL and its broadcast partner NBC, although the culprits are seldom called out by name). Some 15% of comments dis Madonna's appearance, and 12% make fun of her fake-sounding British accent. By the way, the percentages in our chart don't add up to 100% not only because they don't comprehensively cover all conversational themes but also because there's often overlap between sentiments -- for example, tweets that dis both Madonna's looks and her selection for the gig, like this one from @RoxyCavendish: "Madonna. Not feeling it. She's old. She's looking like a skeleton. With a wig. #notthrilled #halftime #superbowl."
  • "Anyone who has bought advertising during the halftime show should be concerned from a media-planning perspective," Dan Neely, CEO of Networked Insights, told me. Not only are there plenty of counterprogramming options available on TV (including, of course, the kitty halftime show during Animal Planet's Puppy Bowl), but tons of Super Bowl viewers will surely be turning to second-screen experiences -- choosing media on their mobiles* over Madonna.
  • Networked Insights also tracked recurring themes in social-media conversations about Madonna's appearance at the Golden Globes last month. The most common discussion had to do with her feud with fellow nominee Elton John (a one-sided feud, granted, that was started by sore loser Sir Elton and his equally ungracious partner David Furnish), with comments acknowledging her Best Original Song win coming in second and disses of , yep, her weird-sounding faux British-y accent coming in third.
  • Have Madonna and her people been monitoring her negative social-media buzz? From the sounds of yesterday's press conference, I'd say yes. If you watch the brief excerpt video on the New York Post's website, you'll find that not only has Madonna suddenly scrubbed the annoying British accent from her voice, but she made a point of emphasizing her American-ness: "This is a Midwesterner girl's dream to be performing at the Super Bowl halftime," she declared in a flat Midwestern accent. (Oh, right -- she's from Bay City, Michigan, not York, England. Almost forgot!)
  • Have the NFL and NBC been monitoring the negative social buzz surrounding their halftime choice? I'd say yes, judging by the fact that , as The Guardian reports, "Both Nicki Minaj and MIA announced they would perform alongside the 53-year-old Material Girl on Sunday, cannily bridging any generation gap between headliner and target demographic." (Minaj and MIA guest on Madonna's new single, "Gimme All Your Luvin'," out today.)
  • Who would Super Bowl fans rather see than Madonna? From its blog and forum monitoring (three sample comments appear in our infographic above), Networked Insights saw a lot of love for the stadium-rocking Foo Fighters.

* "mobiles" pronounced with a British accent

Simon Dumenco is the "Media Guy" columnist for Advertising Age. You can follow him on Twitter @simondumenco. You can follow Networked Insights on Twitter @NetInsights.

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