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On Life, Love and the Pursuit of Happiness

Five Reasons We Love the Super Bowl

Robert Manni - Friday, January 30, 2015


I’ve watched every Super Bowl. That’s all forty-eight broadcasts, so the NFL must be doing something right. Over the past half century, the big game has grown into a global media juggernaut and it’s arguably the largest singular sporting contest on Earth. Every subsequent year since 1969 and Super Bowl III when Joe Willie Namath guaranteed victory for the 18 1/2-point underdog New York Jets (really) before taking down the Baltimore Colts 16-7, the Super Bowl has grown steadily in stature and grandeur. What was once a simple grind-it-out championship football game played on a neutral field has turned into a spectacle that provides viewers of all ages and genders something to marvel at.

This year the reigning champion Seattle Seahawks face the New England Patriots. The buzz has been about New England’s history of purportedly shady practices and the recent revelation that 11 out 12 of the footballs they used in the AFC Championship game were found to be under-inflated. So, this one may be remembered as the “Deflategate” Super Bowl. It should be a great game though, pitting Tom Brady and New England’s high-powered offense against Seattle’s “Legion of Boom” defense. I’ll take the Patriots 24-17 as they control the ball and the clock for most of the game. But when in comes to the Super Bowl, you never know what surprises may lay in store. An improbable hero, a botched call by the refs, a phenomenal catch that changes the fate of a team forever. It’s all on the line this Sunday. The halftime show features pop star Katy Perry with Lenny Kravitz and there is already buzz about some of this year’s controversial ads.

Please allow your Guy’s Guy to walk you through a number of the reasons why us Guy’s Guys, and just about everybody else puts their snarkiness aside for a few hours this Sunday and vibes with this annual over-the-top event.

1. The Stakes.

Unlike the World Series and the NBA Finals, the Super Bowl is one game. Sure, the NCAA finals and World Cup also come down to one game, but neither has the marketing panache of the Super Bowl. Unless you were from Argentina or Germany, did you really care who won the World Cup? In the NCAA March Madness tournament, by the time it gets to the finals, do you really care which college superpower wins another title? That said, it everyone has an opinion and a rooting interest in the Super Bowl. One reason is that unlike other championship games, the press devotes and incredible amount of space during an otherwise bleak last two-weeks of January on the big game. The hype is without peer and from food to fashion; it permeates many facets of our culture.

2. Half Time.

No other sporting event can boast the spectacle of a Super Bowl Halftime Show. It is an event in itself. Music’s top stars including The Rolling Stones, The Who, Madonna, Beyonce, Bruce Springsteen, and Paul McCartney have all performed to an audience of close to one billion viewers worldwide. Each act is tasked with putting on a thrilling show in twenty minutes, and most have succeeded. I’ve attended two Super Bowls. The first one was in 1993, pitting the Dallas Cowboys against the Buffalo Bills. Seeing the young Cowboys reclaim their reputation as America’s Team by upsetting the revered Bill 52-17 was a personal thrill. Our halftime show at the Rose Bowl featured Michael Jackson. You can’t get bigger than that. Let’s see if this year, Katy Perry has the chops to deliver a Super Bowl worthy performance.

3. The Ads.

I’m a marketer and ad guy by trade, so I’m fascinated by the overblown Super Bowl ads for commodity products like mass-produced beer, soft drinks, fast food, salty snacks, and tires, and the reactions we hear from the viewers. The ads people usually recall are the ones that they liked. Ironically, advertisers and the tests new campaigns go through before they get produced usually overlook “likeability” as a variable. Too often the testing focuses only on an ad’s ability to communicate the brand strategy. It’s no wonder why so many ads these days are so flat-footed. I call these ads, “stratecutions”. During the Super Bowl, though, many brands take risks by investing in over-the-top productions for the return of a “buzz” factor that can spark and carry a brand’s sales momentum throughout the year.

4. The Parties.

Most people I know have their own game plan for the big game. Maybe they are having friends and family over, or a bunch of guys get together to grill and drink, or a group of colleagues put out a spread while they chit chat during the game before locking in the ads and halftime show before heading home. By now the consumer’s involvement in their own festivities, food, and drink have become a new tradition rivaling Thanksgiving.

5. Winter Sucks.

Let’s face it. In a good portion of our country the weather in January is at best dismal. Here in New York, the city has been awash with hues of gray, brown and black since Thanksgiving, with little hope for change anytime soon. And after the big game, February’s greets an unwelcoming population with more cold, slushy days. If you are a sports fan, you most likely experience a football hangover after the game that lasts until March Madness which six weeks from now. That’s a long time, amigo. But, New Yorkers are tough and scrappy. Somehow, we find new ways to get through this sports drought, even if it means watching a Nets game.

That’s just the tip of the iceberg. The Super Bowl is big business and lots of money changes hands from all the betting. Who hasn’t bought a box or two in the company pool? The bottom line is that Sunday marks a special day that we now collectively celebrate every year. It really doesn’t matter who wins. Super Bowl Sunday is more about our experience and how we share this cultural phenomenon with our friends, colleagues and loved ones. And don’t forget the guacamole.

This week’s Guys’ Guys of the Week are the players and coaching staffs of the New England Patriots and Seattle Seahawks. After all, this is a football game, and without their hard work from training camp through January, there would be no Super Bowl. Congrats to both squads and let the best team win.

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