Sunday, February 4, 2007

Countdown to Kickoff – Super Bowl XLI is finally here


At long last the Super Bowl game will be played tonight at Miami’s Dolphins Stadium. Earlier this week Forbes Magazine released their latest subjective sports list – “The World's Most Valuable Sporting Event Brands.” The Forbes list was based on the daily revenue generated by that event. Events like the Olympics and soccer’s World Cup may have a bigger overall economic valuation, but Forbes believes the Super Bowl is the biggest single day in the sports industry.

What was Forbes rationale for the decision they made: Commercial inventory for last year's game on ABC--owned by the Walt Disney Co. amounted to $154 million, based on a record $2.5 million commercial rate for 30 seconds of airtime. Sprint Nextel paid $12 million to sponsor halftime, a figure that is expected to be topped by PepsiCo. when the Colts play the Bears in Super Bowl XLI on Sunday. CBS sold their available commercial inventory for $2.6 million per spot and are expected to generate more than $163 million in advertising revenue from today’s game. Those are the spots that air during the actual game, not the spots that run during the six and a half hour of the pre game show.

The Super Bowl's licensing program generated a record $140 million, with the largest share coming from Reebok, owned by German apparel maker Adidas. And thanks to an average ticket price of $613, gate receipts provided $31 million in revenue (net of the 25% of the tickets the NFL gives to the media, sponsors and league affiliates). An average ticket price of $613 was based on the face value of tickets for Super Bowl XL (that doesn’t account for the thousands of dollars paid for tickets on the secondary ticket market).

But the big numbers only begin with what Forbes offered earlier this week in regard to the Super Bowl. The National Football League’s numbers, especially their Super Bowl numbers are mind boggling:

NFL games on broadcast TV (CBS, FOX and NBC) averaged 16.3 million viewers (up four percent from 2005). On cable, NFL games on ESPN averaged 12.3 million viewers (up 41 percent) and 4.1 million viewers on NFL Network.

Super Bowl XL is the second most-watched program ever (141.4 million total viewers).

The 13 most-watched programs in TV history are all Super Bowls.

Super Bowl XL was watched in record 234 countries and territories in a record 32 languages.

More women watched Super Bowl XL this year (40.0 million) than total viewers watched the 2006 Academy Awards (38.9 million).

Thirteen NFL games during the 2005 season had as many or more viewers than prime time’s five most-watched May 2006 season/series finales.

NFL games were the top-ranked program locally a record 80 percent of the time – up from 69.3 percent in 2005 and surpassing the previous record of 73 percent set in 2003.
And a list of the NFL’s corporate partnerships over the last several years reads like a who’s who of corporate America:

December 2000 – NFL signs 10-year deal with Reebok to manufacture and sell NFL licensed merchandise, including uniforms, sideline apparel, footwear and the NFL Equipment apparel line.
July 2001-NFL signs a 5-year deal internet deal with AOL Time Warner, Viacom (CBS) and CBS
Sportsline.
November 2002: NFL signs a 5-year extension with Motorola
March 2002: NFL signs a 5-year deal with Coors
March 2002: NFL signs a 5-year deal with Pepsi
October 2002: NFL signs a multi-year deal with Masterfoods (Snickers)
December 2002: NFL signs a 5-year extension with DIRECTV for satellite exclusivity for distribution of NFL Sunday Ticket
July 2003: NFL signs a multi-year deal with Bayer and GlaxoSmithKline
July 2003: NFL signs a multi-year deal with IBM
September 2003: NFL signs a 6-year extension with MBNA for credit card rewards program
December 2003: NFL signs 5-year extension with Footlocker.com to produce NFL Shop site/catalog
December 2003: NFL signs 7-year deal with Sirius (satellite radio package)
January 2004: NFL signs 6-year extension with Visa
February 2004: NFL signs 8-year extension with Gatorade
April 2004: NFL signs 7-year extension with Pepsi
April 2004: NFL signs 3-year extension with Campbell’s
August 2004: NFL signs 3-year extension with Canon
August 2004: NFL signs 3-year extension with Southwest Airlines
October 2004: NFL signs with Ameriquest Mortgage Company
May 2005: NFL signs multi year deal with Burger King
July 2005: NFL signs multi-year deal Proctor & Gamble’s Prilosec
August 2005: NFL signs 5-year wireless content & sponsorship deal with Sprint
September 2005: NFL signs multi-year extension with Coors
October 2005: NFL signs 2-year deal with Samsung (official HDTV)
September 2006: NFL signs 5-year extension with Motorola
October 2006: NFL signs 2-year sponsorship deal with State Farm
January 2007: NFL signs multi-year sponsorship deal with The Home Depot

And Super Bowl Sunday always produces its share of ‘amusing’ sports business related statistical information:

More people watched Super Bowl XL (141.4 million viewers) than voted in the 2004 Presidential election or went out to celebrate New Year’s Eve.
There are 7.5 million parties on Super Bowl Sunday, with 43.9 million party-goers (National Retail Federation)
1.5 million TV sets will be sold the week leading up to Super Bowl (National Retail Federation)
Sales of big screen TVs show fivefold increase during Super Bowl week (National Electronic Dealers Association)
Super Bowl is top at-home party event of year, ahead of New Year’s Eve (Hallmark Cards, Inc.)
Average Number of Attendees for a Super Bowl party is 17 (Hallmark)
Super Bowl Sunday is the second-largest day of food consumption behind Thanksgiving
(American Institute of Food Distribution)
On Super Bowl Sunday, Americans consume 8 million pounds of guacamole (California
Avocado Commission)
Antacid sales increase 20 percent the day after Super Bowl (7-11 stores)
Super Bowl weekend is the slowest weekend for weddings (multiple sources)
Estimated 14,500 tons of chips and 4,000 tons of popcorn eaten on Super Bowl Sunday (multiple)
Following Paul McCartney’s Super Bowl XXXIX halftime show, “products bearing his name were flying off the shelves at Amazon.com." Sales ranks for his CDs’ “All the Best” and “Wingspan” jumped from 3,115 to 331 and 1,060 to 144, respectively

There were more than 2,000 media accredited for Super Bowl XLI. Most will be leaving Miami today doing their best to ‘get out of town’ before the Miami and Fort Lauderdale airports are packed later tonight and all day Monday. Most of the media were in Miami to cover the events leading up to today’s game. By tonight’s 6:30 PM kickoff those who focus their attention on covering actual football games throughout the NFL season will do just that.

The media for the most part loves the Super Bowl, especially the access associated with the event as they have reported over the years:

“Today’s world will not shrink the Super Bowl, but it has shrunk the stature of conceivable competitors –and the will of advertisers to match event-TV with event-ads as they do in the first week of February.” – (Business Week, 1/15/07)
“No competitive endeavor, not even women's figure skating once every four Februarys, can overtake the NFL Playoffs.” – (Washington Post, 1/9/07)
“In an age of limitless distractions and short attention spans, the seemingly endless desire for anything pertaining to professional football has reached obsessive heights...used to be people went to the movies to escape reality, to be entertained for a few hours. Now they watch football.” – (Seattle Post-Intelligencer, 9/19/06)
“According to USA Today, ticket sales for movies in the U.S. declined sharply on NFL Kickoff Weekend, falling 45% from the previous weekend and 30% from the same weekend last year. "The opening weekend of the National Football League season typically is a tough one for studios," the newspaper wrote.” (USA Today, 9/11/06)
“We are Bored Sports Nation. Other than football, nothing can keep our attention” – (Philadelphia Daily News, 2/17/06)

“When it comes to corporate entertaining, the Super Bowl is in a league of its own” – Craig Erlich, president of Star Trax Corporate, a Southfield. Mich. event planning and entertainment company (Detroit News, 1/15/06)

“The Super Bowl is a huge, rocket shot of creativity for a day with a tremendous amount of viewership.” – Bill Cella, CEO of Magna Global, which buys advertising time (USA Today, 1/6/06)
“The Super Bowl in the end has an engagement value that is second to none.” – Ed Erhardt, ad sales president for ESPN and ABC Sports (USA Today, 1/6/06)
“You have to have a product or a service that scales to the constituents. The Super Bowl is one of those properties that do a very important thing in capturing the population and the imagination all in one. It scales, it has lean-forward interest, it’s a sought-after event. And the advertising is as heralded as the game itself. It’s an experiential marketing event.” – OMD East Managing Director Mark Stewart (Ad Age, 12/9/05)

“I think the game in some ways sums up the American experience. I think a lot of people see their daily lives and the history of the country in the NFL because the game is also linked to the personality and attitude of the country. There’s a high degree of teamwork, an emphasis on toughness,” said Neal Pilson, former president of CBS Sports and now a sports TV consultant. (Washington Post, 9/8/05)
“The Super Bowl is the only event that can take over any city and stop everything that is going on. It’s going to be nonstop action. It’s going to be like no other event,” said Robert Tuchman, President of TSE Sports & Entertainment, a New York-based event planner. (Detroit Free Press, 9/8/05)

“As the old television universe disintegrates into hundreds of channels, and viewers shift time slots and skip commercials at will, the Super Bowl is one event that still puts the mass in mass marketing.” (Wall Street Journal, 1/24/05)
“There is no more mainstream advertising vehicle in the United States than the Super Bowl." – Matt Ferguson, Careerbuilder.com chief executive (Wall Street Journal, 1/17/05)

“The Super Bowl is bigger than television,” said Ray Warren, managing director of Omnicom Group’s OMD, typically the largest buyer of ad time which bought 20% of the game. “The game is a national holiday. It’s the only place to put 100 million people in front of a commercial.” (Advertising Age, 1/12/04)
“They understand that they're in the event and entertainment business," said David Carter, principal of the Los Angeles-based Sports Business Group. "It just so happens that what they're producing is a football game. They make every game a happening. They have managed to brilliantly weave in pop culture. Brands at that level that don't constantly refine their approach to business have someone catch up with them.” (Orange County Register, 11/2/03)
Tom McGovern, director for sports marketing at OMD in New York, a unit of the
Omnicom Group: "The beauty of the Super Bowl is that it hasn't been impacted by the erosion of viewership and ratings that has affected the rest of television. The ability to reach half the population at one time is still there." (New York Times, 11/3/03)
News Corp. President of Sales John Nesvig: “No product sells itself, but time on NFL games comes close.” (Bloomberg News, 7/31)
“The NFL is the most recession-proof of major sports,” said John Mansell, a senior analyst at market researcher Kagan World Media. “The American public has an insatiable appetite for football.” (Bloomberg News, 7/31)

“The Super Bowl is for the big and those just hitting it big,” said Michael Sievert, AT&T Wireless CMO.

“We have very few events that transcend most of the fragmenting parts of the world. The Super Bowl is one of them.” Dr. Jay Coakley, professor of sociology at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs
“It’s interesting how important football, and specifically the Super Bowl, has become to our society.” Dr. Jay Coakley
“People all over the world are attracted to events that endorse a sense of ‘we-ness.’ We love big events like the Super Bowl. We are constantly looking for a connection with each other based on the notion of nationhood. It is an opportunity for us to gather as one.”
Dr. Jay Coakley

Historically as most know Super Bowl I at the Los Angeles Coliseum didn’t sell out. Tickets were priced at $6 and $12. The late NFL commissioner Pete Rozelle flew back to New York from Los Angeles the day after the first Super Bowl and turned to Don Weiss (the man who organized many Super Bowl’s for the NFL) and told Weiss the following year’s game was going to sellout. Rozelle didn’t care how Weiss and his team accomplished that task but he told Weiss the Super Bowl II was going to sellout.
Weiss accomplished that feat and indirectly set the direction for sports sponsorship packaging that began with Super Bowl II in Miami and today is a cornerstone of every sports sponsorship agreement. Not only Super Bowl sponsorships, not only NFL sponsorships, not only sports sponsorship but every sports/entertainment sponsorships that are negotiated.

Weiss believed if he was going to sellout Super Bowl II he had to marry the sponsorship agreements the NFL had with the Detroit automobile industry to the Super Bowl. Weiss offered tickets to the NFL’s automobile sponsors, packaging NFL advertising and commercial opportunities with Super Bowl tickets. Weiss believed an event held in a warm weather city (Super Bowl II and Super Bowl III) were both played at Miami’s Orange Bowl. Weiss sold automobile executives on the concept they could create sweepstakes opportunities, employee sales incentive programs and an opportunity to use a trip to Miami in the dead of winter to entertain their biggest customers. It was Rozelle’s vision and Weiss ability to deliver that created what the Super Bowl has grown into.

The Super Bowl started as a football game most sports fans weren’t interested in. After Super Bowl III and Joe Namath’s "guaranteed" victory on the Thursday before the game, the Super Bowl became an event sports fans everywhere wanted to watch. Over the last 41 years the Super Bowl has evolved from a football game to a sports event, to the biggest sports event in any given year to a national holiday that happens to feature a sports event. Super Bowl Sunday remains the single greatest guarantee for television advertisers annually. Super Bowl Sunday is an event that long ago transcended sports, it’s the one sports event during a year when families get together and enjoy experiencing a moment in time watching a football game. Enjoy the game!!

For Sports Business News.com this is Howard Bloom

Saturday, February 3, 2007

Countdown to Kickoff – Roger Goodell shines on the Super Bowl XLI stage

Roger Goodell offered his first “state of the National Football League” to the assembled media at Super Bowl XLI. Showing the poise and confidence that belied his rookie appearance on center-stage Goodell made it clear to the media that he’s at the helm of the National Football League and all is well with the good ship NFL.

Much has been made of the shining moment that will take place Sunday during Super Bowl XLI when Lovie Smith and Tony Dungy become the first African Americans to lead their teams’ as head coaches in a Super Bowl game. Earlier Friday, Smith and Dungy shared another Super Bowl first earlier Friday, they became the first two head coaches to be photographed together with the Vince Lombardi Trophy days before one of the two men will hoist the trophy as Super Bowl winning head coach Sunday evening.

“We’re proud of Tony (Dungy) and Lovie (Smith) as great football coaches. They have meant a great deal to the NFL. They're people of incredibly high character, and to see the success they're having on the field as NFL coaches is very rewarding for all of us. It is obviously of particular note that they are African Americans, and the success that they are having on the field is something that we're very proud of. And I know they're proud of it as African Americans, but I know they want to be remembered and thought of as great football coaches, and they are, I think, in the NFL's minds.

”I think it will lead to greater opportunities, because the whole basis of the Rooney Rule was to make sure we had the best possible people in those positions. And whether it's coaching for an office or anything associated with the NFL, we want to have a sophisticated process that is open and diverse that will find the best possible candidate for those positions. These are two great examples and it's happening across the league and we're proud of it.” Goodell told the media.

One issue Goodell was grilled on, his reaction to the problems the NFL continues to face off the field. From Chicago Bears defensive lineman’s Tank Johnson’s house arrest, to nine members of the Cincinnati Bengals facing legal issues during their teams current NFL season. Goodell and NFL officials are well aware the image of the league has taken a tremendous hit throughout the 2006 NFL season.

“Well, we have to do something about it. I think it's an incredibly important issue. One incident is too many, in my book. I think we need to reevaluate all of our programs. We have a tremendous number of programs that I think have been quite successful to help our players. But I think we've got to do more. We are going to start that process, one, by evaluating our policies; but two, Gene and I are going to put together a group of players we're going to meet with in the next several weeks to give us their perspective on what's really happening and what are the issues, so we can try to learn something first.

“But I think our focus has to be on reevaluating our policies, make sure we educate our players to what's out there. We continually tell our players and our coaches that we are raised to a higher standard in the NFL and we have to exceed that standard. I firmly believe that and I think Gene does, also.
“We have to make sure our players are more accountable, but I think also our clubs have to be more accountable and we will be reevaluating our position to see if there are ways we should make our clubs more accountable in the offseason.” Goodell said.

It’s next to impossible for Goodell to address the behavior of NFL players away from the football field under the current collective bargaining agreement. At the same time, Goodell is well aware the league’s image is under fire because of the criminal activity of far too many NFL players.

“I see it differently. I don't see it in droves. I think there are very few. But a few is too many in my book. I think when you have the outstanding athletes that we have, and we have two of them here today, that won the Walter Payton Award, Drew Brees and LT (LaDainian Tomlinson). These are two of the finest people I know. Not just football players, but outstanding people.

“We're proud of our players. We recognize that at times some of our players don't do what we would hope they do. When that happens we will be very aggressive in dealing with that and we have stepped up our discipline this year, and I intend to continue to do that, “Goodell offered in a glass is half full view of the problem.

That didn’t stop Goodell from narrowing in on the problems with the Bengals. Nine different players have been arrested in the last 13 months, an ungodly number even for the National Football League.

“I think we all take it personally. I think it's something we have to address. From our standpoint we have talked with Mike on several occasions. We have offered services and he has taken those services to try to address these issues. It's part of what Gene and I are going to be talking about with the players in the next several weeks to understand a little bit what's happening in these particular markets.

“Why is it happening in one market versus another market? What it is that players need as support or what they need as education? And we'll do that very aggressively over the next several months. But I don't know the answer to that, but we want to find it and we're going to find it.”

Goodell wasn’t asked a great deal about the NFL Network, other than the availability of games and the anger football fans have about the lack of cable carriers offering the NFL Network.

“First off we're very proud of the NFL Network. It has been extremely high quality programming. We think it's been terrific in giving fans another perspective of football that they wouldn't ordinarily see, because it's 365 days, 24 hours a day. That's what we're trying to build is giving fans an opportunity to experience football in ways that they haven't been able to do in the past. We think it's going to be extremely successful.

“I think I'd point out for the fans that it's part of our building process, but we show every one of our football games on live, free television. And that's important. And we will continue to make sure that that's an emphasis going forward.” Goodell commented.

While Goodell wasn’t asked if the NFL will consider adding more games to the NFL Network in the future, it’s clear unless and until the NFL Network has more leverage with cable carriers the network will be unable to grow its subscriber base. It makes perfect sense for the NFL to consider a full Thursday and Saturday night schedule of games when the current television contracts run out in six years. For that to take place the NFL will have to expand by two teams. The NFL will need to expand by two franchises to preserve the integrity of their Sunday schedule. If the NFL hopes to continue to generate $3.75 billion annually in television rights fees and add more games to the NFL Network, expansion has to take place in the next six years.

Goodell addressed not only if the NFL is looking at expansion into Los Angeles, but addressed the future of the San Diego Chargers at the same time.

“In San Diego I've been in close touch with Mr. Spanos and his management team. I was out there for the playoff game. I have not met with any of the local officials. I have offered to do that if I can be of any help.
“But from the NFL standpoint, we want to do whatever we can to support the team in that market. They are working hard to stay in that market. They have, for several years, been focused on various stadium alternatives that they think will work for the stadium and the team. My hat's off for him. I'm happy to play any role in doing that.
“On your second question in Los Angeles. Los Angeles, again, we need to find a solution in Los Angeles that works for both the community and the NFL. It's important to us to be in Los Angeles long-term, but we have survived quite well without Los Angeles, Los Angeles has survived quite well without the NFL. But I think we would be better together. I want to find a way to do that that would be best for all parties.”

Along with Los Angeles the only other city brought up in regard to NFL expansion was Toronto. Recently retired NFL commissioner usually mocked the annual Toronto expansion NFL franchise question during his Super Bowl press conference. Goodell didn’t come out and say Toronto would be getting an NFL franchise, in fact Goodell made it clear he has tremendous respect for the Toronto market and what it represents to the NFL’s future plans not only for expansion, but for the NFL’s upcoming series of international regular season games the league will begin next year in London.

“We've had a great deal of interest from Toronto to host a regular season game. We agreed with the officials in Toronto and the CFL, because they have a Grey Cup. We've had a long-standing relationship with the CFL and hope to continue that. They are a part of the history and tradition.
“We're not in an expansion mode right now. We're making sure our 32 teams succeed at the highest-possible level at their current markets. And Toronto is a great city and would be a great host if they had an NFL team. But that's for another day.”

Goodell was asked if the NFL has any future in Las Vegas. Given the NBA is taking their All-Star Weekend to Las Vegas in two weeks time, and basketball’s Tournament of the Americas will be played in Las Vegas in late August, is the NFL softening its stance on Las Vegas?

“I feel strongly about keeping a very strong line between the NFL and sports gambling, and sports betting. I think it's a real issue. I have my personal views about gambling and I don't think it's in the best interests of the NFL to have any association with sports betting. I think we are working hard with all of our franchises now to stay where they are, to stay competitive and successful in those communities and make those communities even better. I do not, from my standpoint, have any dialogue with anybody about that -- that hypothetical, but we're going to work hard to try to keep our teams where they are.”

Goodell took the opportunity Friday to announce the two teams who will play a regular season game in London, England on October 28 will be the New York Giants and the Miami Dolphins, with the Dolphins giving up a home game at Dolphins Stadium. While that didn’t come as much of a surprise, Goodell was asked why the 2007 NFL international regular season game didn’t end up in Germany. Germany is home to five of the six NFL Europa franchises, the last time England was home to an NFL Europe franchise was in 1999.

“I just met with the Lord Mayor of Dusseldorf just last week and he has a tremendous amount of interest from doing this game. We also do it from Berlin and Frankfurt.
We understand the growing popularity of the game on a global basis. But we think this has to be done on a limited basis. We have tremendous fans here in the States also, that it's difficult to take a game away from a home team. So we're doing that on a very small basis out of concern for our fans here in the States.
“On the other hand, I think there are new technologies developing or new technologies where we can share our game with fans throughout the globe. And hope to get too many of your readers in Germany.”

And what about Mexico City, is Mexico City part of the NFL’s current plans for one or two games annually through the 2011 season being played on foreign soil?

“It actually was considered. We have had, as you know, we've played our first regular season game in our history in Mexico City last year. It was a great success and it led, frankly, to the fact that our ownership would approve playing regular season games on a more limited basis annually.
“We love Mexico. We have a great fan base there. It's growing every day. We are very interested in going back. And we hope to be dealing with the various officials in Mexico to try to get that done for the 2008 season,” Goodell said.

Goodell was asked a very pointed question relating to the current NFL CBA. There have been suggestions that the players will look at opting out of the CBA after the 2008 season, there are issues with revenue sharing and NFL big and small market NFL owners are not enamored with the current CBA.

“I think the first thing we have to do is do a great deal of analysis. We've had a great system with the Players Association for a long period of time. We have a new agreement we're operating under. It obviously has new mechanisms; it has new aspects of the deal we have to evaluate to make sure they're working, not only to the NFL but also for the players.

“I think, from our standpoint, I know there's some concern about the cost of the deal. But we have to do that evaluation. So I would urge all of us to be patient, to understand it, do the evaluation. It is our job, our responsibility with the players to strike a reasonable agreement that works for all parties. And we are assured, at least, that we will have labor peace through 2010. So we will have a lot of work to do. We will be in great contact with Gene and his team. But I feel confident that we will be able to address the issues as we go forward, because we have a responsibility to do that.”

The National Football League continues to raise the bar in terms of helping franchises build stadiums. The NFL’s G-3 Fund allows teams to borrow against future stadium generated revenues to help finance their portion of whatever stadium agreement they reach with their local and state governments. In the last year alone the Kansas City Chiefs and the New York Giants/Jets stadium projects have all benefited from the G-3 Fund. With the San Diego Chargers and San Francisco 49’ers looking for their share of the G-3 pie, and with the New Orleans Saints and Oakland Raiders playing in facilities that no longer offer the revenue generating features newer stadiums have, where is the NFL’s G-3 Fund and how many more teams can go to the well before it runs dry? Goodell delivered the bad news Friday.

“The G-3 Fund has been exhausted. We used that on our last three facilities, Kansas City and -- two facilities, two New York teams in New York and the Kansas City facility. And that represents a huge investment by the league in trying to get these done.

“We have always had a league-wide stadium funding mechanism. I anticipate we will. But this has to be considered within the context of our labor agreement and revenue sharing with the Players Association. They were cooperative and worked with us on the New York stadium and we appreciate that.
“But I think there's a much broader, deeper issue that we're going to have to get to, to be able to continue to have the kind of funding mechanisms we've had on the league level. And we look forward to having those conversations. We'll continue to work with the California authorities to see what we can do to work for both the community and the NFL.”

It has been a great year for the NFL. Record attendance, the first eleven weeks of the schedule completely sold out, the best television ratings in years, there are many challenges ahead for Goodell but overall it’s steady as she goes for the good ship NFL. Sunday night when either the Indianapolis Colts or Chicago Bears get to hoist the Vince Lombardi Trophy in a sea of confetti, Roger Goodell’s first year will come to an end. Monday morning the many challenges for year two begin in earnest.

For Sports Business News this is Howard Bloom.

Women like the ads more than the Super Bowl game

comScore Networks, a leader in the measuring the digital age, today released the results of a survey of more than 1,500 Americans' attitudes and opinions related to Super Bowl XLI. The survey was conducted among consumers who plan to watch this year's Super Bowl, and respondents were evenly divided between men and women. The study revealed differences in expectations for the Super Bowl along gender lines, with women more likely than men to look forward to watching the ads, including this year's line-up of consumer generated commercials.

Men Watch Super Bowl for the Game, Women Watch for the Ads

Although the Super Bowl will be watched by a wide majority of Americans, men and women reported substantial differences in the aspects of the game they most enjoy. Men overwhelmingly responded that "watching the game" (64 percent) was the most enjoyable part of the festivities, while fewer than half of women responded in kind (31 percent). Conversely, women were more than twice as likely as men to say they enjoyed watching the ads (36 percent vs. 17 percent). Women were also more likely to respond that their favorite aspect was spending time with friends or family (22 percent vs. 13 percent) and the half-time show (9 percent vs. 4 percent).

Q: "Which aspect of the Super Bowl do you enjoy most?"

Source: comScore Networks, Pre-Super Bowl Survey
N = 1,530
Males Females
Watching the game 64% 31%
Watching the ads 17% 36%
Spending time with friends or family 13% 22%
Half-time show 4% 9%
Other 2% 2%


Consumer Generated Commercials Attract Pre-Game Interest

During this year's Super Bowl, some brands will be joining the consumer generated content bandwagon by airing commercials created, filmed, and produced by members of the general public. Among the brands intending to air these commercials are Doritos, Chevrolet, and the NFL. In the months leading up to the Super Bowl, Doritos promoted consumer generated ads for its brand at http://www.crashthesuperbowl.com/ , where people could view and vote for their favorite submissions. From January 1st through January 28th, the site attracted 227,000 unique visitors, which demonstrates the broadening appeal of the consumer generated content phenomenon.

In fact, when asked about their expectations for these commercials, more than twice as many respondents (27 percent) said they thought the consumer generated commercials would be more entertaining than thought the professionally-produced commercials would be (13 percent). Women had even higher expectations for the consumer generated commercials, with 32 percent believing these spots would be more entertaining, and just 10 percent favoring the professionally-produced commercials.

Doritos' effective promotion of the consumer generated commercial concept appears to be influencing consumer opinions. Thirty-three percent of respondents said that they were looking forward to seeing the Doritos ads, ranking the brand second only to perennially popular Super Bowl advertiser Anheuser-Busch (66 percent) in terms of consumer anticipation. Fed Ex, Pizza Hut, and GoDaddy.com each benefited from noteworthy ads during the 2006 Super Bowl, with more than 20 percent of respondents saying they were looking forward to this year's spots.

Q: "During this year's Super Bowl, which of the following company's ads are you most looking forward to?"

Source: comScore Networks, Pre-Super Bowl Survey
N = 1,530
Percent of Respondents
Anheuser-Busch 66%
Doritos 33%
Fed Ex 26%
Pizza Hut 24%
GoDaddy.com 21%
Snickers 19%
Chevrolet 16%


Internet Usage an Important Part of Game Day

Of those planning to log onto the Internet on the day of the game, many will do so for Super Bowl-related reasons. Fifteen percent plan to log on to monitor Super Bowl stats and stories, while 13 percent will look for recipe and party ideas. Super Bowl advertisements are also likely to spur Internet usage on game day, with 11 percent of those surveyed intending to watch ads online and 10 percent planning to visit Web sites of Super Bowl advertisers.

Q: "For which of the following activities do you plan to use the Internet on game day?"

Source: comScore Networks, Pre-Super Bowl Survey
N = 1,240
Percent of Respondents
To monitor stats and stories related
to the players and the game 15%
For recipe and party ideas 13%
To watch ads or video clips 11%
To visit Web sites of Super Bowl advertisers 10%
To forward ads or video clips to friends 5%
To download ads or video clips 5%
To place or follow bets on the game 4%
To play fantasy sports 4%
To buy NFL/Super Bowl merchandise 3%

Fans Predict Colts to Win, Manning to be Named as MVP

Indianapolis registered as the slight Super Bowl favorites, with 53 percent predicting that the Colts would walk away with this year's Lombardi Trophy. Prognosticators also indicated that the quarterback position will be especially pivotal to the game's outcome, as both teams' quarterbacks were selected as the most likely candidates to win Super Bowl MVP. Colts quarterback Peyton Manning was selected as the most likely MVP with 37 percent of the vote, while Rex Grossman was the top choice on the Chicago Bears with 13 percent, edging out teammate and All-Pro linebacker Brian Urlacher with 12 percent.

Survey Says we watch the Super Bowl spots

A new survey commissioned by Hanon McKendry/The Brand Consultants and conducted by Harris Interactive Inc. shows that more than half of U.S. adults (56%) watching the Super Bowl on Sunday will be doing so as much or more for the commercials as for the game itself.

The survey, which is aimed to quantify the appeal of Super Bowl commercials, indicates that 20% of viewers will be watching the game mainly for the commercials, while 37% said they watch equally for the commercials and the game itself. Hanon McKendry/The Brand Consultants' survey confirms the game's enduring draw, finding that more than two-thirds of U.S. adults (70%) plan to watch Super Bowl XLI.

"The new data show that Super Bowl advertising is increasingly vying for supremacy with the game itself," said Bill McKendry, Founder/Chief Creative Officer for Hanon McKendry/The Brand Consultants. "Our survey confirms that the Super Bowl is as much or more a 'must-see' media event as it is a sporting event."

With capitalized billings of over $50 million posted last year, Hanon McKendry/The Brand Consultants is a leading Midwest-based advertising agency/branding firm. The firm's recent work includes a Rayovac Batteries campaign featuring Brett Favre, which is scheduled to air during Sunday's Super Bowl in targeted markets nationwide.

Hanon McKendry/The Brand Consultants' new survey sheds additional light on the preferences of America's Super Bowl audience. Among the findings:

* The game ads are more likely to appeal to younger viewers: 61 percent
of viewers ages 18 to 34 watch as much or more for the commercials,
versus 48 percent for viewers ages 55 and older.
* Women said they are more likely than men to watch the Super Bowl for the
ads: Among those who plan to watch the game, more than 10% more women
(27%) than men (13%) plan to watch exclusively or predominantly for the
commercials.

For more information regarding the survey, please call Lambert, Edwards &
Associates at (616) 233-0500.

Friday, February 2, 2007

Countdown to Kickoff – Super Bowl XLI tickets are dropping in price


Super Bowl XLI was the perfect ticket storm. The Chicago Bears, who haven’t appeared in a Super Bowl in 21 years and a team from the second biggest American market with a rabid fan following, are set to meet the Indianapolis Colts in their first Super Bowl. Face value for Super Bowl tickets are $600 and $700. The good news if you’re looking for tickets to the game in the remaining two days before Sunday night’s kickoff, the free market system is working to the advantage of the consumer. Thursday evening prices which days ago stood at $4,100 for end zone seats at Dolphins Stadium have dropped to $1,800 per ticket. The bad news, if you purchased tickets earlier this week you’ve learnt a very expensive lesson in why it pays to be patient.

Dolphins Stadium holds about 75,000. The Bears and Colts each received 17.5 percent of the available tickets. After each team dealt with their own needs (key sponsors, owners and others) they each held ticket lotteries to distribute the remaining tickets to their season ticket holders. Usually Super Bowl teams weight the lottery based on the number of years someone has been a season ticket holder. The Dolphins received five percent for hosting the game. The other 29 NFL teams split 34.8 percent of the tickets. Most tickets allotted to individual teams are shared with corporate sponsors and season-ticket holders. The NFL offices retained 25.2 percent of the seats, most of which end up with sponsors and league officials. The 1,000 tickets made available to the public come out of the league's share.

Over the last few years the Internet has afforded many “entrepreneurs” to use the power of the Internet to drive and create businesses. The secondary ticket market has exploded and the Super Bowl presented the perfect storm for the likes of Stubhub.com, Razorgator.com and Tickets.com.

The National Association of Ticket Brokers reports that there are more than 650 ticket brokers nationwide, virtually 100 percent doing most of their business online. The days of buying two tickets from street scalpers outside an arena or a stadium have long since passed. You can be very sure of one thing Sunday, football fans won’t be walking around Dolphins Stadium with thousands of dollars burning a hole in their pockets ready to hand that money over to a complete stranger hoping they’re buying legitimate (non-counterfeit) Super Bowl tickets.

Indianapolis Colts fans are notorious for selling their tickets to key games at the RCA Dome.

"Colts fans are known for selling their tickets and taking the money," Jeff McDonald of Riverfront Choice Tickets in Cincinnati, who has almost 25 years in the ticket broker business told The Indianapolis Star days before the Colts met the New England Patriots days before the January 21 AFC title game at the RCA Dome. "It's pretty common knowledge."

For years, Colts fans have lamented packs of "enemy" fans invading the RCA Dome, particularly for big games, diluting the home field advantage with their colors and vocal cords. At the 2006 AFC title game there were more Pittsburgh Steelers fans in the RCA Dome than Colts fans.

"It seems that for every big game there's a disproportionate number of fans for the other team," said Tom Salentine Jr., a Colts suite holder. "Contrast that with Baltimore (where the Colts played their second round AFC playoff game). Did you see any pockets of Colts fans in Baltimore's stadium?"

That may have been true for other Colts games, but the Super Bowl is regarded as a once in lifetime opportunity for fans to attend. The Colts and the Bears each received 13,000 tickets to Sunday’s game and with each teams lottery based on longevity statistically more than 90 percent of those fans who are lucky enough to win their teams’ lottery attend the game. And here’s the real impact the Super Bowl has on the secondary ticket market. Ticket brokers have to buy tickets from ticket holders, ticket holders who paid a face value of between $600 and $700 for the right to buy the ticket. Anyone interested in selling their tickets is well aware of the market place. A fortunate ticket broker might be fortunate enough to buy a ticket for $1,500, more likely at least $2,000 per ticket. The scarcity of available tickets, the face value of the tickets and the demand for tickets all push Super Bowl secondary ticket market price forward.

"The street business has really died," said Don Vaccaro, who has been selling tickets since 1979 and is the founder and chief executive of Vernon, Conn.-based TicketLiquidator.com in an Associated Press report. "The old-time brokers are saying, 'Look, you got a bunch of geeks selling tickets now.' It's really a lot more brains going in now."

"It used to be, buy a ticket, triple your profit," Vaccaro said. "Now it's buy a ticket and you're lucky if you get 20 percent."

One “ingenious” method online brokers have developed to increase their profit margins adding a 10 t0 15 percent processing fee to the cost of tickets. Given that anyone interested in tickets to Super Bowl XLI is likely in Miami an additional $640 processing fee is nothing more than creative scalping.

StubHub which was purchased last month by eBay reportedly sold eight tickets for more than $10,000 apiece, with an average price of about $4,500, and the cheapest seat going for $2,424. Similarly, RazorGator is reporting an $8,000 price tag for some of the tickets it has sold and an average price of $4,400.

Mike Janes, senior vice president of StubHub, told CNNmoney.com its so-called studies of ticket prices in other states such as Illinois show ticket prices dropping after price caps and restrictions are removed.

SeatSmart.com CEO Larry Kokoszka consistent with Economics 101, more supply means lower prices," said Janes. "The demand doesn't change based on the law, it changes based on how popular the team is."

David Lord, president of RazorGator Experiences, the unit of the company that handles not only ticket sales but travel packages to big events, told CNNmoney.com that the market is far more transparent than it was in the past.

"The common consumer is the dominant provider of this market. It's no longer a broker-led marketplace. There's no back-alley acquisition of tickets the way there was 10-20 years ago. Those days are gone."

The explosive growth of online ticket sales, up to an estimated $3 billion annually according to Forrester Research, has led to 250 percent annual revenue growth at StubHub since it started in 2000. That meant eBay had to bid $310 million for the service.
"I've seen it reported as anywhere from a six to $10-billion industry," said Jennifer Swanson, spokeswoman for TicketsNow.com which, along with StubHub.com, was named to Inc. Magazine's list of the 500 fastest growing companies in a Los Angeles Times report. "People aren't waiting in line for tickets anymore, they are waiting online. This is just another resource to get the seats that were once unavailable to average buyers into their hands."

SeatSmart.com CEO Larry Kokoszka told The Los Angeles Times the price for Super Bowl XLI tickets peaked on January 21, the day after the AFC and NFC Championship games. Most of the winners of each teams’ lottery knew either before their teams qualified for the Super Bowl if they had tickets to the game, and those wanting to go to Miami needed as much time to arrange all of the additional aspects of their Super Bowl travel plans.

"The changes we're seeing in the numbers today mean ticket holders are beginning to unload their tickets so they can be sure to have a buyer come Sunday," Kokoszka said. "It's not consistent with the principles of supply and demand, but it's great news for fans who waited until the last minute to purchase tickets."Many of the hundreds of online ticket sites are selling more than Super Bowl tickets. The parties that surround the big game also have been drawing interest, with tickets available for everything from the annual Playboy Party (selling for up to $2,915) to Tony Siragusa's Cheerleader Party ($285 or less if you use the $100 coupon). Razorgator.com is offering parties Sunday priced from $341 per ticket at the Seminole Hard Rock Paradise in Hollywood (Florida). 80’s rock group Kansas will appear.

You can also buy parking at Dolphins Stadium for $90. If you have a limo and you want to have it at Dolphins Stadium you can buy parking for your limonene for $670 if you visit the good folks at gotickets.com. At totaltickets.com you could purchase everything from hotel rooms to tickets for last night’s EA Sports Madden Bowl Party. The same online broker which claims to be able to secure tickets to everything from Friday night’s Commissioner’s Party to Leigh Steinberg’s Super Bowl party (although the event is listed but totaltickets.com doesn’t show any available inventory for these and most of the events they have listed, are selling Super Bowl NFL Tailgate Party tickets for $975 each). Whatever that event is, according to totaltickets.com is scheduled for Dolphins Stadium Sunday.

VIPsuperbowltickets.com seem to have a business plan similar to gotickets.com They list every possible Super Bowl event, do not appear to have an inventory for many of those events, but claim their ‘army’ of employees will find the events tickets you need for Super Bowl XLI events.

If totaltickets.com is listing events they don’t appear to have any tickets for, that pales in comparison to the Super Bowl page for onlineseats.com. That home page features images and information from Super Bowl XXXIX, the game that was held two years ago in Jacksonville. However if you click onto the sites buy Super Bowl tickets you find tickets for Super Bowl XLI. How much consumer confidence would anyone have in a website that featured content that was two years old? Not exactly a recipe for success.

Forbes Magazine issued a report Wednesday that listed the Super Bowl as the “world’s’ most valuable sports brand”. Forbes subjective list suggests the Super Bowl has a value of $379 million. Forbes based their list on how they saw the value for each day of an event. The two week Olympics, Forbes believes generates revenues of $176 million per day. Over the 17 days of an Olympic Games that’s $2.9 billion.

The Super Bowl is no longer an event for sports fans; it’s an event that sports fans long ago haven’t been a part of. At a face value of $600 and $700 per ticket, adding in airfare, hotel and spending money a no frills trip to Super Bowl XLI will easily cost the average sports fans more than $3,500 for a weekend. When was the last time the average sports fan spent $3,500 on any experience, let alone what is billed as an once-in-a-lifetime experience? That isn’t the world football fans have been a part of for a very long time.

The Super Bowl is also a perfect opportunity for online abuse. Congressional leaders and the Justice Department have done their best to eliminate the online gambling industry. Gambling may be a victimless crime to some, but one of the biggest concerns lawmakers have had regarding online gambling with all of the online gambling sites located ‘off-shore’ consumers weren’t offered any protection. If that rationale was in least partially used to create the online gambling ban why haven’t the same lawmakers attempted to enforce consumer safeguards for online ticketing?

The Bears and the Colts are two of eight NFL franchises who have a partnership agreement with StubHub. The other six teams: Atlanta Falcons, Cincinnati Bengals, Detroit Lions, Houston Texans, Indianapolis Colts, San Diego Chargers, and Washington Redskins. While there is no accounting for how StubHub secured their Super Bowl XLI ticket inventory, given that both the Bears and the Colts each received 13,000 tickets and a fair percentage of each teams’ tickets went to their corporate partners, and StubHub is a corporate partner with each team, its reasonable to assume a percentage of StubHub’s Super Bowl ticket supply was delivered directly from the two competing teams. “Joe Sports Fan” can’t compete with the power of a seven figure sports sponsorship.

The Washington Post reported that StubHub pays the Redskins $5 million annually for their sponsorship. StubHub retains all of the revenue from the resale of Redskins tickets. A $5 million sponsorship fee is very important to the Redskins, but given the Patriots lawsuit against StubHub is a real potential problem.

For whatever reason sports leagues and teams seem to believe there are no rules when it relates to dealing with the secondary ticket marketplace, and at the end of the day the National Football League continues to risk their sterling reputation.

Would the National Football League ever seriously consider a league wide sponsorship with a secondary ticket operator? Never, it wouldn’t make sense to potentially taint the NFL’s brand with the perception of being directly linked to anyone selling NFL tickets for more than face value. Leave that to other sports leagues; leave that to those ‘desperate’ enough to accept money from anyone.

But in ignoring the various local and/or team operated secondary ticketing agreements; the NFL may indeed be making a big mistake. For a business so focused on delivering a unified message on everything, the NFL is setting itself up for embarrassment when it comes to the optics of how their member’s teams are dealing with the secondary ticket marketplace.

For Sports Business News this is Howard Bloom. Sources cited in this Insider Report: Associated Press and the Los Angeles Times

Westwood One's National Broadcast of Super Bowl XLI to Air on More Than 600 Radio Stations

Westwood One, the exclusive national radio of the National Football League (NFL), announced today that it's coverage of Super Bowl XLI will be heard on more than 600 stations nationwide, in every one of the top 100 US markets. Super Bowl XLI airs live from Dolphin Stadium in Miami on Sunday, February 4, 2007. Pre-game coverage begins at 3:00 p.m. ET, followed by kickoff at approximately 6:25 p.m. ET. Fans seeking to find an affiliate radio station in their home markets/cities are directed to log on to SUPERBOWLSTATIONS.COM.

"We look forward to having our play-by-play reverberate from the speakers of millions of radios," said David Halberstam, EVP/GM of Westwood One Sports. "In their homes, cars, or wherever they are, countless fans will be able to tune in to stations in virtually every corner of the country."

Westwood One's Monday Night NFL commentators Marv Albert and Boomer Esiason will provide complete play-by-play coverage with John Dockery and Bonnie Bernstein reporting from the sidelines. Jim Gray will host the pre game and halftime shows as well as provide interviews and insight from athletes and celebrities in attendance. Our special pre game coverage begins at 3:00 p.m. ET, with "Super Bowl Preview," followed at 4:00 p.m. ET by "Super Sunday," a one-hour special that reflects on past Super Bowls and previews the upcoming game, both hosted by Tommy Tighe.

Super Bowl XLI will also be heard on American Forces Radio Network, which provides programming to America's military forces around the globe. The American Forces Radio Network serves over one million men and women in uniform, Department of Defense personnel, American Embassies and Consulates in over 180 countries and territories as well as U.S. Navy, U.S. Coast Guard and Military Sealift Command ships at sea

Toyota Goes Local, Gets Back to Basics to Market the All-New Tundra

Toyota will support the launch of its all-new full-size pickup truck, the Tundra, with a grassroots marketing campaign designed to win over the most loyal vehicle owners in the U.S. To help meet this challenge, Toyota is going local and getting down to basics with a focus on product demonstrations and, in the creative campaign, the "guts" of the product. The multi-media effort consisting of TV, print, out of home, newspaper, radio, interactive, and events is designed to deliver 11 billion impressions, the largest in Toyota's history, for both the general and Hispanic consumer markets. The Tundra campaign officially begins with two new spots in Super Bowl XLI on February 4.

"Our Tundra launch will concentrate on five key categories that interest truck buyers, including hunting and fishing, NASCAR, construction and building, country music, and sports," said Jim Farley, Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A. marketing group vice president. "While national marketing is important to the launch of the new Tundra, the heart of the marketing plan is the discovery of our product in person at the grassroots level."

Local support will come through significant grassroots efforts by area Toyota dealers in all key categories critical to connecting with Tundra's target buyer. On the regional level Tundra will be featured in TV spots, outdoor ads, local newspapers, sponsorships, and auto shows. On the national level, Tundra will be promoted in prime network and cable TV ads, sports programming, heavy print and interactive media, and 1-to-1 marketing including a large direct marketing campaign.

Toyota will have a presence at hundreds of grassroots events designed to engage consumers and demonstrate the capabilities of the new 2007 Tundra. The programs include BASS tournaments, BASS Pro Shops grand openings and Fall/Spring/Winter events, 84 Lumber grand opening events, Brooks & Dunn concert series, Tractor Supply Co. retail events, Toyota Outdoor Tour (a national consumer engagement tour), Toyota Tundra Prove It! (a national ride & drive program), Field & Stream Heroes of Conservation event and promotions, the Toyota Professional Angler Team competing at PAA BASS events, as well as hundreds of regional dealer supported grassroots events that include fishing, rodeos, chili cook-offs and more.

"The success of the new Tundra will involve more than making a great truck. It will require selling the Toyota brand," said Jim Lentz, Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A. executive vice president. "We need to reach truck buyers who previously never considered a Toyota product. This will be particularly important in America's heartland and among Latinos, where Toyota has not penetrated the market as strongly as other regions and where trucks are an integral tool in the daily lives of many."

One particular group of truck buyers, dubbed "True Truckers," are the primary target buyer in the Tundra marketing plan. These are the full-size pickup owners who depend on their trucks day in and day out. Although they will account for more than one-fourth of all full-size truck sales, their importance extends far beyond their purchasing power. They are the true opinion leaders among full-size owners and are highly credible because they use, punish, and demand the most out of the pickups they buy.

The launch of the 2007 Tundra marks Toyota's the most extensive effort to date in connecting with Latino consumers and its largest presence ever in high-profile properties across top Hispanic broadcast and cable networks. The campaign target of 650 million impressions among this vital and growing segment more than doubles that of any previous product launch. The centerpiece of the integrated initiative is a national engagement marketing program that features the Tundra at more than 70 Hispanic consumer events in four categories:

* Sports -- including sponsorships of the Copa America and Copa Toyota
Libertadores soccer tournaments.

* Music -- a multi-city music tour featuring Mexican regional music.

* Construction -- sponsorship of several industry events to connect with
decision makers and "true" truck users.

* Charreadas (traditional Mexican-style rodeos) -- sponsorship of
multiple "charros" competitions across the nation.

The advertising campaign will showcase the new Tundra's styling, size, ruggedness, power, and built-in legendary Toyota brand quality. The campaign platform is "The new Tundra is a full size 1/2 ton with the guts of a 3/4 ton." Individual ads will highlight braking, towing, payload, acceleration and other capabilities. The creative is anchored in moments of truth, those key situations where the truck buyer must be given the solid facts about why they should consider Tundra -- at the job site, in the barrooms, at the Sunday tailgate. "Ultimately our hope is to spark debate among all of our target customers," said Farley. "At the very least we'd like them to be skeptical, but interested, in our product."

Emerald Takes Its 2007 Super Bowl Campaign Online

Emerald, the snack brand of Diamond Foods, Inc. (NASDAQ:DMND) today announced its pre-game online campaign leading up to Super Bowl XLI, which airs on Sunday, February 4, 2007. Leveraging Robert Goulet's ominous presence in the upcoming commercial and Emerald's current focus on nuts being an excellent source of natural energy during the time of day that people need it the most, Emeraldnuts.com has initiated the first stage of its robust online initiative that spans before, during and after the Super Bowl.

Among the online content are "victim testimonial" videos regarding unexplained missing or destroyed items, literature regarding Robert Goulet's secret dark side, an email alert system to warn others about the dangers of low energy in the office, and numerous pro-natural energy/anti-Goulet banner ads. These components are all part of a long-term strategy that was mapped out before the commercial was even filmed.

"The growing popularity of broadband entertainment has had a major impact on how our Super Bowl ad was approached," said Andrew Burke, vice president of marketing for Diamond Foods. "In the past, a commercial was filmed and then we determined if there was a component that could be leveraged for additional exposure. Now an expanded campaign was part of the up front planning for our Emerald nuts spot. By viewing it as more than a 30-second ad, we proactively planned to capture specific additional footage for creative purposes. As a result, we are rolling out an expansive online campaign that will run all the way through the game and beyond."

After the commercial airs on Sunday, new elements related to the campaign will surface, including a number of interactive and audio components that will be available on Emeraldnuts.com. In addition, Emerald has purchased space on a leading video streaming site to ensure prominent visibility for the ad after it debuts.

Developed by Goodby, Silverstein & Partners of San Francisco, Emerald's national 30-second Super Bowl commercial will air in the third quarter and introduce the snack brand's new approach in offering consumers a healthy source of energy to keep them going through the midday slump.

For more information about Emerald snack products and to obtain screenshots to accompany coverage of the Super Bowl ad, visit the Press Center at www.emeraldnuts.com .

Miami Beach Unveils New Marketing Initiative During Super Bowl Week

With the eyes of the nation focused on Super Bowl XLI this Sunday, the City of Miami Beach plans to welcome thousands of fans, media and corporate sponsors with a new marketing initiative – “Miami Beach 25/7. So much to do, you’ll need the extra hour.”

“Our objective is to communicate that Miami Beach offers more than meets the eye for everyone – from residents to visitors to business people,” said Miami Beach Assistant City Manager Hilda Fernandez. “There simply is no other tropical city in the country that offers this ‘live, work, play’ trifecta, forcing you to beg for a 25th hour in the day to experience it all.”

The 25/7 message will be placed on everything from T-shirts to branded energy drinks and aerial banners during the days preceding the Super Bowl, complemented with a variety of public relations efforts.

Today, the City opens the “Miami Beach Loves You Back” media spa, outside the Miami Beach Convention Center. Members of the media will be given an entry pass to enjoy a short break from the stress of covering the game and its related stories, while being provided a Miami Beach 25/7 T-shirt, with a customized tagline (“So much to cover, you’ll need the extra hour”), a Miami Beach 25/7 energy drink “for the 25th hour,” and a list of possible sidebar stories.

At the Miami Beach Golf Club, corporate players will receive a custom-designed golf towel and information about the city’s excellent business environment, delivered continuously on the GPS system found in every golf cart.

Beginning Friday and through the weekend, Miami Beach will have a concierge in their entry foyer suite at the Sprint Style Villa, a two-story glass hospitality house for corporate VIPs, visiting dignitaries, athletes and celebrities, located on the beach. Visitors will receive a specially-designed bag featuring the Miami Beach 25/7 logo and branded t-shirt.

The City selected local public relations firm, The Treister Murry Agency, and branding agency, Cre8tiv Juice Group, last summer to develop a campaign that focuses on establishing Miami Beach as a city that competes in the world marketplace with its cuisine, cultural offerings, business opportunities, high-end shopping and recreational amenities that extend beyond its beautiful beaches.

“With so many visitors in town, including journalists, who may be experiencing Miami Beach for the first time, we wanted to make sure they walked away with a new, more complete vision of what the city has to offer,” said Lisa Treister of The Treister Murry Agency.

Added Mauricio Giammettei of Cre8tiv Juice: “For the Super Bowl we wanted a simple message that conveys the city’s unstoppable energy. Our efforts this week are about getting that message to the thousands of visitors who will be in our area.”

Additional marketing and public relations initiatives will be rolled out during key special events throughout the year to emphasize the Miami Beach brand.

Consumers Expected to Buy Much More Than Just Chips and Dip This Super Bowl Weekend, According to Visa USA Data

Visa USA, a leading payment brand and the nation’s largest payment system, reported today that Americans are likely to stock up on much more than just food, beverages and electronics this Super Bowl weekend (Friday, Saturday and Sunday). According to historical Visa data, jewelry and floral retailers also are likely to experience large increases in consumer spending.

"We expected that supermarkets and electronics stores would see the largest increases in spending as consumers stock up on chips, dips, beer and flat-screen TVs," said Wayne Best, senior vice president, business and economic analysis, Visa USA. "What's interesting is the rather dramatic rise in spending in the jewelry and floral retail categories. That may suggest consumers are trying to get an early jump on shopping for the upcoming Valentine's Day holiday, or perhaps they're feeling guilty about spending a lot of time watching football and are planning peace offerings to their loved ones."

According to a review of historic Visa data, jewelry stores and florists experienced more than a 30 percent increase during Super Bowl weekends in 2005 and 2006 compared with other weekends. Traditionally, consumers have been known to spend more at supermarkets, wholesale club warehouses and electronics stores on Super Bowl weekend than they do on other weekends before and after the big game.

Purchase Personal Consumption Expenditure (PCE) in the United States totaled more than $7.2 trillion in calendar year 2006, with general-purpose payment cards capturing about one-third of that total. Spending on Visa-branded credit, debit and prepaid products represented nearly 17 percent of total Purchase PCE. That means $17 out of every $100 spent by consumers was on a Visa-branded card.

Visa has been a proud sponsor of the National Football League (NFL) since 1995, actively engaging in consumer, member bank and merchant activation programs. Through NFL and team partner relationships, Visa has implemented national advertising and promotions, product and event marketing, and a national tour to promote financial literacy among high school students.

Fast Food Chains Banking on Their Own Score This Super Bowl

Quick service restaurants are gearing up for the anticipated “Super Bowl surge” this February. But, some will be more prepared than others to handle additional customer transactions, all because of a relatively new, but growing, guest-service technique that has the industry a-buzz: Let guests handle their own orders.

EMN8 Inc. is a leading developer of the latest evolution of self-service kiosks, replacing the sterile, one-dimension “pong-esque” kiosks of the past with vibrant, cinema-quality graphics, 3-D animation and user-friendly interfaces. These graphic advancements not only make the ordering process more fun and entertaining, but reflect the actual personality of a brand.

“Self-service is everywhere these days. Implementing a self-service option in our restaurants came naturally,” said a major fast food restaurant franchisee. “We chose EMN8 because of their ability to integrate with our systems and support our customers paying by either cash or credit. The great graphics make ordering easy and fun – they really capture our brand.”

Even more important to quick-service restaurant owners are the results, which come in the form of faster service, line reduction and, best of all, an estimated 15- to 30-percent increase on per-ticket sales. The potential is evident, especially when you consider that fast-service dining sales are expected to reach $180 billion in 2007. High periods such as Super Bowl Weekend can make the difference between a good year and great year.

According to Stephen M. Donly, EMN8’s chief executive officer and president, it’s events like the Super Bowl that best showcase the company’s industry-leading kiosk design.

“Initially, people are a little intimidated when seeing a service kiosk, said Donly. “But – especially if there’s a line – our fun, friendly interface draws them in and they give it a try. More often than not, they’re instantly hooked. Think of how many people now use ATM machines – it didn’t use to be that way,” explained Donly. “People like kiosks because they’re faster, easier and more convenient. We’re now seeing that same trend in the quick service area, only with more animated and enjoyable self-service technology.”

Industry statistics confirm Donly’s assessment. According to IHL Consulting, a global research firm for technology, self-service transactions will reach $450 billion by 2008. And, according to Forrester Research, consumers who frequently buy food and beverages from quick service restaurants and coffee houses “want the latest high-tech conveniences.”

“It’s a more personal experience where people can order what they want, change their order if they want, pay with cash or credit; whatever they choose to do. It’s their way, all the time. That means they’re happy and more likely to return. And that means the restaurant owner’s happy.”

Thursday, February 1, 2007

Countdown to Kickoff – a date with destiny


Today marks the beginning of Black History Month. Sunday, Super Bowl XLI two head coaches, the Indianapolis Colts Tony Dungy and Lovie Smith of the Chicago Bears, will become the first two African American men to lead their teams to a Super Bowl. Black History Month 2007 will in large part focus on Super Bowl Sunday.

Black History Month often sparks a debate about the continued usefulness of a designated month dedicated to the history of one skin color.

On a December 18, 2005 episode of 60 Minutes, actor Morgan Freeman criticized Black History Month as inadequate, noting that there is no White History Month. "I don't want a black history month. Black history is American history." Freeman believes that racism will persist as long as individuals continue to identify themselves by their skin color.

Carter G. Woodson, creator of Negro History Week (in 1926), hoped that the week would eventually be eliminated, when African-American history would be fully integrated with American history. Later on in 1976, as the nation reached its bicentennial, the week was expanded into an entire month.

Freeman the acclaimed Academy Award winning actor is very correct in how he sees Black History Month and hopefully Back History Month will be a distant memory in the near future, but that shouldn’t stop America from recognizing what will take place Sunday at Dolphins Stadium.

The Rooney Rule, which the NFL enacted in 2002, requires National Football League teams to interview minority candidates for a head coaching opportunity. The rule is named for Dan Rooney, the owner of the Pittsburgh Steelers and the chairman of the league's diversity committee, and is often cited as an example of affirmative action.

In 2003, the NFL fined the Detroit Lions $200,000 for failure to interview minority candidates for the team's vacant head coaching job. After Marty Mornhinweg was fired, the Lions immediately hired former San Francisco 49ers head coach Steve Mariucci to replace him without interviewing any other candidates. The Lions claimed they attempted to interview other candidates but that the minority candidates withdrew from interviews, believing Mariucci's hiring was inevitable.

Since the Rooney Rule was established, several NFL franchises have hired minority head coaches, although the policy is still debated. No team has stated whether the Rooney Rule contributed to the hiring of a minority. The results speak for themselves. During the so called ‘modern NFL era’ (for argument sake we’ll use 1950 as the start of the NFL’s modern era) six NFL franchises hired an African-American as their head coach: Art Shell Raiders 1989, Dennis Green Vikings 1992, Ray Rhodes Eagles 1995, Tony Dungy Bucs 1996, Ray Rhodes Packers 1999 and Herman Edwards Jets 2001. In the five years the Rooney Rule has been in place eight men have been hired as NFL head coaches: Tony Dungy Colts 2002, Marvin Lewis Bengals 2003, Lovie Smith Bears 2004, Dennis Green Cardinals 2004, Romeo Crennel Browns 2005, Herman Edwards Chiefs 2006, Art Shell Raiders 2006 and Mike Tomlin Steelers 2007. Six in 52 years, eight in five years – the Rooney Rule has afforded African American football coaches the opportunity they had long ago earned.

Art Shell the first African-American coach hired by the Raiders in 1989 told The Boston Globe he believes Supper Bowl XLI will be an important day in National Football League history.

"I spoke with both of them and told them how very proud I am of them," Shell said. "I'm proud of how well they've done and of the way they handle themselves.

"Their being in the Super Bowl will open the door a little wider for minority coaches the same way Doug Williams opened the door for black quarterbacks. After he did what he did, guys after him were looked upon as quarterbacks, not just as great athletes.
"When I came into the league in 1968, they thought a black guy couldn't be the quarterback. You could play tackle but a black guy couldn't play center or guard. Those positions weren't for blacks. They were thinking man's positions. Same was true of coaches.

"I have no doubt that if I failed, it would have retarded the process for a lot of us. The night before my first game as Raiders coach, I remember sitting with Terry Robiskie [a former teammate who became an assistant under Shell] around 3 a.m.

"I couldn't sleep. I told him, 'I have to have success at this. I've got to win. If I don't, it will set us all back many years.' If we hadn't won in Oakland, a lot of people would have said, 'There. See that. They can't do it.'

"That's why having Tony and Lovie on the sidelines coaching in the Super Bowl is so important. Visual proof is very important. For black kids to see that there's a black face on the biggest stage and he's in charge of the team is important. It shows you that no matter where you were rated or where you were slated, if you fight, work hard, get organized, and believe in yourself, you have a chance to be successful."

Doug Williams played an essential role in African American men recognition and acceptance in leadership roles on a NFL field. Williams led the Washington Redskins to a 42-10 win over the Denver Broncos at Super Bowl XXII on January 31, 1988. In one of the Super Bowl's superlative displays of passing, Washington's Doug Williams led a second-quarter offensive explosion that clinched a 42-10 victory over Denver. Williams completed 18-of-29 passes for a Super Bowl record 340 yards. He tied a Super Bowl record with four touchdown passes, all of which came in the second quarter.

"Doug Williams said to me at the Senior Bowl in Mobile, 'Rooney not only talks the talk, he wants the walk,' " said NFL Players Association head Gene Upshaw in a Boston Globe report. "What he did with Tomlin spoke volumes (Mike Tomlin hired to replace Bill Cowher). He could have said he had two loyal guys who have been with him a long time and with whom he won a Super Bowl, but he looked beyond that and hired the best guy. If we didn't have that Rooney Rule, guys like Tomlin don't even get interviewed."

"I would like to think owners would hire the best coach," Ray Sherman, 55, the Titans' wide receivers coach who has 19 years of NFL offensive coaching experience with seven teams, including the 49ers told The San Francisco Chronicle, "but I am here because of the Rooney Rule. I definitely think we need to keep it in place."

"All I've ever asked for is the opportunity to interview," Sherman said. "Right now, the trend is for the younger guys, I guess. Maybe the Rooney Rule came too late for me."

What most football fans don’t remember is that the NFL was pushed into the Rooney Rule. Famed attorney the late Johnnie Cochran and Washington lawyer Cyrus Mehri threatened to sue the NFL unless the league changed its hiring practices.

On September 30, 2002, Johnnie L. Cochran, Jr. and Cyrus Mehri issued a ground-breaking report - Black Coaches in the National Football League: Superior Performance, Inferior Opportunities - revealing that black NFL head coaches are held to a higher standard than their white counterparts, and are consequently denied a fair chance to compete for head coaching jobs.

The report opened the NFL's eyes to its teams' unfair hiring processes. One month later, on October 31, 2002, NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue announced the formation of a diversity committee, headed by Pittsburgh Steelers owner Dan Rooney, to address the NFL's minority-hiring practices. Within two months, the League announced a diversity plan, which included the requirement that each team interview at least one minority candidate prior to selecting a head coach. The Rooney Rule has already positively impacted the League. On March 10, 2003, the Fritz Pollard Alliance was formed as an affinity group of NFL minority coaches, scouts and front office personnel. During the last couple of years the FPA has worked with the NFL to develop hiring guidelines for front office and scouting positions as well as talent development programs. The FPA advocates for policy changes in the NFL hiring practices and working in partnership with the NFL to create opportunities for minority candidates.

"I think you have to look at it as a great success," said Mehri, general counsel of the Fritz Pollard Alliance, the group formed to promote minority hiring at all levels of the NFL in a Boston Globe report. "You know it's a great success when it matters to the owners. From a process point of view, they're doing everything we've asked them to do. Now, does that mean we've eradicated bias in the NFL? No. It's part of America. But we've made great strides. We couldn't have written a better script."

"It couldn't have happened to two finer people and two finer coaches," Mehri said. "We're on cloud nine. We couldn't be happier. We came into this to change America's game. . . . Sunday gives us a chance to have America's game change America's consciousness."

"If there was no Rooney Rule, Lovie Smith would not be the head coach of the Chicago Bears," said John Wooten, chairman of the Fritz Pollard Alliance in a Washington Post report. "Believe me. . . . This fills me with a great sense of pride.""Everything we're doing has exceeded our best expectations," Mehri said. "We really have had a cultural change. We don't win every time. We shouldn't win every time. But everyone is following the process."

Gale Sayers, the youngest player to enter the Pro Football Hall of Fame (as a member of the Chicago Bears) remembers all too well the days before the Rooney Rule. After retiring with the Bears in 1972 Sayers tried to stay in football looking for a front office opportunity. Instead, he earned a master's degree in education administration and was one of the first African-Americans to be a college athletic director.

Yet in 1983 when he wrote to all 28 NFL teams looking for a job, he said he got only one response: a rejection letter from the Los Angeles Raiders.

''We should be talking to our children -- going to high schools, going to colleges and talking to them about this day,'' Sayers, 63, said in the suburban Chicago headquarters of his computer systems company, Sayers Group LLC in a Bloomberg News report. ''It knocks down all these rednecks out there who say that blacks cannot win, or cannot play quarterback or cannot be a head coach.''

''I think you're starting to see the fruits of many years of labor,'' said Javier Loya, a part owner of the Houston Texans and member of the NFL's diversity committee. ''There's some assistant GMs, heads of personnel, different guys starting to move up the pipeline.''

And how do Sunday’s Super Bowl head coaches feel about their moment when they’ll be center-stage?

"There were black coaches who were exceptional back then but they never got to do what we've done," Colts head coach Tony Dungy told The Boston Globe. "They could have taken a team to the Super Bowl but they never got the chance.

"My generation of kids who watched the Super Bowl never saw African-American coaches. You could be a player. You couldn't necessarily be the quarterback. Then you saw Doug Williams play and win a Super Bowl at quarterback [in January 1988] and they thought they could be a quarterback.

"Now maybe a young kid will watch this game and think, 'Maybe I can be the coach one day.' That's special. We're all a product of our environment and our past."

"That day is coming," Smith said, "but we're talking about it now, so it's not here now. Each year we've taken a step. That's all we're looking for. You look for steps that you take in your progress. We've taken another step by Tony and I having our teams in the Super Bowl. In years to come, it won't be talked about. I'll look forward to that day."

"For a long time, you hadn't seen a lot of African-American coaches, so owners had to go with what they knew," said Dungy, who first became a head coach in Tampa in 1996 in a Boston Globe report. "I think everybody wants to win. They just don't always know everyone who's available. What the Rooney Rule did was say, 'There may be another category of people to look at.'

"I remember when I first started interviewing for head coaching jobs, a guy asked me, 'How many black coaches are you going to have on your staff?' It startled you a little bit. When I was 28 or 29, I had a general manager tell me I had to shave my beard because people were looking for a certain style. I asked Coach Noll about it and he said for me not to worry about that.

"The only token interview I think I ever had was the second one. It was with the Green Bay Packers. I asked them what they were looking for in a head coach, and they said, 'An offensive guy with head coaching experience.' I just scratched my head. I didn't know where I fit there. I never did walk out of an interview, but after a couple of them were over, I felt I should have."

And the 84 men suiting up to play on the ultimate Sunday know all to well history will be made Sunday at Dolphins Stadium

"It just shows how far we've come as a society to have black coaches even be in a position to coach in the Super Bowl," said Bears fullback Jason McKie. "As a black man, it makes you feel proud."

CBS, the NFL and Big Brothers Big Sisters have joined forces to create a 15-second public service announcement highlighting the importance of mentoring to debut during Super Bowl XLI airing on CBS Network Sunday, Feb. 4th. In a Super Bowl first, the in-game PSA will feature the two coaches whose teams are competing in the game. The roughly 90 million viewers who tune in to watch the game will see Indianapolis Colts' Coach Tony Dungy and Coach Lovie Smith of the Chicago Bears underscore the importance of mentoring by referencing their real-life mentoring relationship.

These extraordinary role models, the first African-American head coaches to bring their teams to the NFL's biggest game of the year, exemplify the power of mentoring. Dungy, who waited more than 10 years for an opportunity to be a head coach, was the person who gave Smith his first NFL job. Smith considers Dungy his mentor and they speak to each other every Monday morning.

"We are thrilled to be partnering through CBS Cares with the NFL and Big Brothers Big Sisters to bring the year's largest television audience a positive message about mentoring" said Martin Franks, Executive Vice President, Planning, Policy & Government Affairs, CBS Corporation. "We had long ago decided we wanted to showcase mentoring, and ideally do so with the team coaches during the Super Bowl, so we felt like we won the lottery – or in this case, the Super Bowl, given the actual mentoring connection these coaches share."

"It is truly exciting to work with the NFL and CBS to highlight the tremendous need for African-American and Hispanic mentors for the many boys who are waiting and to provide information to viewers on how to volunteer with Big Brothers Big Sisters," said Judy Vredenburgh, President and CEO, Big Brothers Big Sisters. "The Super Bowl coaches are a terrific example of how mentoring can change a person's life," she continued, "and we appreciate their endorsement."

The time will come in the not too distant future that a man’s worth as a football coach will not be judged by the color of his skin but rather his ability to lead other men into battle on a football field. However for that important day to take place, special days and men like Lovie Smith and Tony Dungy have to show the National Football League how to get there.

For Sports Business News this is Howard Bloom. Sources cited in this Insider Report: The Boston Globe, The Washington Post and Bloomberg News