The heavily anticipated royal wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle is just two weeks away and we can expect viewing parties aplenty. The real party though will be the windfall for companies with dollar signs in their eyes, scooping up coveted ad spots as consumers all over the world prepare to park themselves in front of their TVs and computers.
The wedding, which will take place in St. George’s Chapel in Windsor on Saturday, May 19, is not only a rare event, but it will be streamed on a Saturday morning, giving more American viewers the chance to tune in. Americans’ usual royal obsession is further heightened by the presence of an American in the nuptials.
“We are expecting big viewership numbers,” said Ashwin Navin, CEO and founder of data firm Samba TV. “Americans have a strong desire to stay connected to the motherland; as a former colony we have not escaped our royal fascination.” Viewer numbers are expected to exceed the 23 million that tuned in for the 2011 wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton, and seven U.S. networks are going to air it.
“The 2011 wedding already outstripped the 17 million total US audience for the wedding of Prince Charles and Lady Diana Spencer in 1981 by 35 percent,” said Mike Bloxham, an analyst at the media advisory firm Magid. And this couple has a lot of popular appeal, he added.
“It’s also going to help with U.S. viewership that Meghan has star power,” Navin added about the former Suits actress.
With this anticipated turnout, everyone wants a piece of the pie. “News networks will definitely be competing with lifestyle networks for U.S. viewership,” said Jason Damata, founder and CEO of Fabric Media. “On some of the gossip shows, we’re already seeing things like the ‘Markle Diet.’”
ABC is even creating an augmented reality app for the event, which will allow users to take photos with a royal carriage or queen’s guard.
In addition to reality TV, Samuel Stadler, vp of marketing at Parrot Analytics said American’s obsession with the royals extends into fictional work as Netflix’s The Crown, which centers on the current British head of state, has been a hit for the streaming network.
“I’ve previously said that the event itself could generate $100 million in incremental revenue for the U.S. media,” said Bloxham. “As more and more outlets across all media are announcing their plans, it’s likely that the final tally will be far in excess of that.”
Some U.S.-based brands, like Kellogg’s, are rolling out major brand integrations in anticipation of the event. Kellogg’s NYC is hosting an early morning cereal-centric viewing party that day, and is already pushing hashtags to encourage participants to document their experience in real time on social media. Dunkin’ Donuts is also capitalizing on the breakfast theme by introducing the Royal Love donut and promising to open its doors extra early that morning.
While American brands will certainly tap into the royal fervor, the advertising will largely transcend geographic borders, said Navin. Many of these brands are global and the news cycle has shifted in a big way to digital and social media platforms. Digital is likely to work hardest, he explained, especially because TV coverage in the U.S. will be very early in the morning. Still, the age demographic that tends to be most interested in the royals is the TV-watching demographic so it’s really going to be multiplatform campaigns, Damata said.
Brands also have a unique opportunity to target the female demographic with the royal wedding, since most major televised events—like sporting events—tend to skew male. Historically, narratives around the royal family tend to appeal to a wider female viewership. This is going to be a big moment for fashion companies especially, Navin said.
The fact that the couple is biracial also makes it reasonable that the royal wedding will appeal to a broader demographic, Navin said.