Why The Weeknd was a great fit for the Super Bowl LV?

4 min readFeb 11, 2021


And the power of collaboration.

It’s been a few days since the Super Bowl passed and I still read articles mentioning the incomprehension about why The Weeknd hasn’t been paid to perform and why he put $7M of his pocket to deliver the show he imagined. I think that people having those reflections don’t understand the power, and the importance, of collaborations in the sports and entertainment industry today.

First, remember that The Weeknd is not the first artist that was not being paid to perform at the Super Bowl. They are ALL not paid. I get your point, it doesn’t seem fair. All work deserves a salary but instead of a check, they got a massive exposure that generates way more than what they would have been paid.

Secondly, if it seems to you that $7M is a lot for a show that lasts 15 minutes just remember that brands pay around $5M for a 30-second advertising spot during the Super Bowl. With a simple calculation, you can tell that The Weeknd paid $230,000 the 30-second which seems to be a good deal.

The real questions here are why the Super Bowl collaborated with The Weeknd and why The Weeknd accepted this collaboration?

Let’s get on the side of the Super Bowl asking us what The Weeknd can bring to the Super Bowl, why this halftime show is the key for the event?

If you think that this show is just here to make the time go faster at the halftime, you got wrong. The idea is not only to entertain us but mainly to attract a new audience, the one from the performer, that will stay to watch the game.

In the case of The Weeknd, you want to attract more Canadians, as he is Canadian remember, and his young fanbase as he is highly popular among millennials and the Gen Z, two generations massively targeted by the sports industry.

48% of Gen Zers were unlikely to watch the Super Bowl. They are not interested in watching a 3 and a half-hour game, they prefer to consume short, snackable and entertaining replay content with just the last pass that made a touchdown. Also, it’s a generation that wants to have an active experience and watching a game is being passive.

According to Morning Consult, 41% of self-identified fans of The Weeknd were more likely to watch the Super Bowl this year compared to past years. 61% of millennials and 54% of Gen Zers have a favourable view of The Weeknd when only 38% of adults overall have a favourable one of the singer. It was also a way to attract more democrats who are 47% to have a good opinion of him versus the republicans who are only 28%.

And you what? It paid off. 43% of Gen Z viewers and 31% of millennials said they liked The Weeknd’s performance “very much” compared to 22% of all adult viewers.

Now, from the point of view of The Weeknd, let’s make a list of how he capitalized on the exposure of the event.

Announced as the halftime performer on Nov 12, he got 2 more million Spotify followers in November and December.

On Feb 3, The Weeknd rescheduled his “After Hours Tour” to 2022 and announced new tour dates going on sale on Feb 8, the day after the Super Bowl.

On Feb 5, The Weeknd released his new compilation “The Highlights” featuring eight of the nine songs heard during the halftime show.

Billboard reported that on Feb 7, day of the big game, his collective songs and albums sold 36,500 copies, up 385% to the 7,500 sold on Feb 6.

Between Feb 4 and Feb 9, The Weeknd gained a total of 898,246 followers across Facebook, Twitter and Instagram and if anyone has the number of impressions generated, I am highly interested in it.

After his performance, the share of U.S. adults that heard of The Weeknd jumped from 71% to 83% revealed Morning Consult.

The most important rule when you get into a collaboration is to achieve a win-win situation. Both parts need to get value and benefit from each other notoriety.

Collaboration doesn’t always mean a long term partnership. It can be a one-time activation like this one or a licencing deal such as the one between the Paris Saint-Germain and Jordan.

The best collaborations are the one that helps you expand your reach and explore new territory and what I mean by territory is from a geographic point of view, gender, age, passion, lifestyle…

When Nike arranges a collaboration between Mbappé and LeBron it’s to help both of them reach the geographic market of the other and mixed their audiences coming from two different sports.

Collaborations drive business and they are extremely important in this era in which sports brands become global lifestyle brands.

Think about it for your next collab: which territory do you want to expand and who/what could help you to do that?




When I am not drinking coffee, I talk a lot about sports marketing. For french-speaking people, I have a french newsletter: https://romanse.substack.com/