As soon as the Kansas City Chiefs knocked off the Buffalo Bills in the AFC Championship game to secure a date with Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, the sports world began to dissect every possible angle of this year’s Super Bowl matchup. In the spirit of comparisons, SportsAtlas leveraged its database to compare the sponsorship portfolios and social media performances of this year’s top two teams.
Neither the Chiefs nor Buccaneers rank toward the top of the NFL in social followers. Those spots are reserved for franchises with more storied histories such as the Cowboys, Patriots, and Steelers. However, the Chiefs and Bucs gained a significant number of followers this season. In particular, the Buccaneers’ growth on Instagram impressed with a follower count that grew 22.1% to more than 900K.
Each team’s social audience is based primarily in its home region. Forty-three percent of the Buccaneers hail from Florida, while 47% of Chiefs followers reside in Missouri or Kansas. Compared to the average NFL follower, the Chiefs’ followers are passionate about craft beer, indicating how important this burgeoning category is to Kansas City. Similar to , Buccaneers’ fans display a high affinity for pets compared to the rest of the NFL.
While it comes as no surprise that each team’s signal-caller leads his respective team in Instagram followers, neither player tops his team on Twitter. Le’Veon Bell (1.9M) and Rob Gronkowski (3.1M) pace the Chiefs and Buccaneers on Twitter despite only gaining a small percentage of their followers during their time with their current teams. In addition to having the most followers of any Super Bowl contestant on Twitter, Gronkowski was also incredibly active on the platform with 55 posts throughout the season.
While many players benefit from their team’s success when it comes to follower growth, Scotty Miller (+148% on Instagram) experienced the largest growth since the beginning of the season. From an endorsement standpoint, Mahomes (18 deals) and Gronkowski (13 deals) each rank toward the top of the league in partner count. Mahomes’ endorsers have been particularly active during the postseason with Bose, Head & Shoulders, Oakley, and State Farm each consistently running ads during the past few weeks.
When watching a Chiefs’ home game, GEHA and CommunityAmerica featured prominently across the stadium with their portfolios of in-venue assets. Each brand’s alignment with the team also carried over to social media where each ranked in the top five for value earned on social among Chiefs’ partners, according to Zoomph. The Buccaneers’ primary partners this season, both in-venue and on social, included naming rights partner Raymond James, AdventHealth, and GEICO. The sign of an effective partnership is strong brand affinity among a team’s fans. Partners benefitting most from their partnerships, according to Zoomph’s social affinity data, include Hy-Vee with the Chiefs and Publix, AdventHealth, and Raymond James with the Buccaneers. Each team’s followers are 10 times more likely to follow these partners on social compared to the average NFL follower.
Despite ranking ninth in post volume compared to other playoff teams during the postseason, the Chiefs led all teams with a 3.94% engagement rate. The team’s engagement rate was particularly high on Instagram (10.7%). Zoomph’s social valuation model, which focuses on engagement and platform specific CPMs, revealed that the Chiefs’ 454 posts across the playoffs were worth nearly $7M. While the Chiefs ranked toward the bottom of the pack in post volume, the Buccaneers posted more than twice as much throughout the playoffs and ranked third among all playoff teams. The Bucs also leveraged a high engagement rate (3.54%) to drive significant value ($5.7M) during the past few weeks.