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1. The Place: Will Miami Shine Despite the Pouring Rain?
Is it possible the NFL has overlooked an incredible merchandising opportunity in Miami?
NFL "Windsheer II" umbrellas in all 32 team color-and-logo combinations retail for $39.99 on NFLShop.com. Yet in Miami, site of Sunday's Super Bowl XLIV, with the forecast calling for showers throughout the week, there's not a Super Bowl XLIV-logoed umbrella in sight. Was this an oversight, or the sheer arrogance of a billion-dollar league that just assumed the weather gods wouldn't have the audacity to spoil its annual parade again?
Rain or shine, the multimillion-dollar Super Bowl revenue engine powers on. The Super Bowl Host Committee and the Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau expect 110,000 people to descend on South Florida this week, or about 36,000 more people than are expected to go to the game itself.
While organizers admit the Saints-Colts matchup isn't ideal for tourism in Miami—lamenting the failure of the locally popular New York Jets to get all the way to the big game—travel industry leaders are doing their best to ensure that large contingents from both teams are present and accounted for. South Florida ConVis units have banded together to increase TV and radio advertising in the participants' home markets, trying to remind Colts fans how fun the trip to Miami was three years ago and encouraging New Orleans backers to capitalize on the Saints first Super Bowl appearance.
Hotels are enjoying their usual surge in profits, realized by increased room rates and multiple night minimum stays. At the historic Eden Rock on Miami Beach, rooms are going for $639 per night, while the Doubletree Hotel Biscayne Bay, charging $429, was booked weeks in advance. Thanks largely to the main Super Bowl media center's move to Ft. Lauderdale, Broward County hotels are anticipating a 90% to 95% occupancy rate. Palm Beach County, meanwhile, is hosting 18 special events throughout the week. Closer to the action and in rhythm with Miami's Latin beat, the Pepsi Super Bowl Fan Jam will host back-to-back free concert nights on South Beach starring Rihanna, Justin Bieber, Nelly Furtado, Pitbull, and others.
However, even though local organizers stubbornly insist they'll hit the $400 million economic-impact mark—thanks mostly to the addition of the Pro Bowl to the weeklong slate of activities this year (the Pro Bowl drew a record 70,697 attendees)—a study by PricewaterhouseCoopers released last week indicates that direct spending will be down around 27% from three years ago, putting that specific economic indicator at $153 million.
One facility hoping not to up its occupancy rates, at least with NFL players—local jails. The San Diego Union-Tribune notes that 15 different NFL players have been arrested in South Florida during the past 10 years for alcohol-related charges or scuffles outside nightclubs. Miami's party atmosphere has prompted many NFL teams to issue blunt guidelines to players on appropriate conduct and areas to avoid—such as the King of Diamonds strip club and Club Space downtown.
The silver lining to the rain clouds hovering above? Eager to host more big events, the Dolphins have proposed adding a roof that would cover fans as part of stadium improvements that could cost $250 million or more in public funds. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell says the upgrades are needed if South Florida is to remain competitive in bidding for future Super Bowls. This week's rain will only give Goodell and future Super Bowl backers buckets of ammunition.
2. The Players
The Super Bowl may pit two teams against each other, but for sports marketing purposes, Super Bowl XLIV comes down to one matchup: Peyton Manning vs. Drew Brees.
Manning, of course, is a veteran pitchman. According to the most recent Davie Brown Index, which evaluates celebrities across a range of attributes, the Colts quarterback's awareness score is on par with those of "Brett Favre, singer Diana Ross, and actor Colin Farrell," while his "likability" rating is comparable to those of singers Jon Bon Jovi, Elvis Presley, and Nascar Hall of Famer Richard Petty. Manning's "aspiration" rating is among the top 50 in the index and puts him up there with Joe Montana, Denzel Washington, and Dick Clark.
Interestingly, Brees' "appeal" score on the Davie Brown Index is actually higher than Manning's, but the New Orleans quarterback's "awareness" score and all other attributes are much lower.
What does that really mean to sports marketers? Fresh meat.
Brees' story, as AdAge points out, "includes not only on-field success but also a prominent role in the rebirth of New Orleans." His personal charity has helped raise millions toward Katrina relief, and his current marketing deals include household name brands Nike (NKE), Pepsi (PEP), Sprint (SPRT), and Visa (V), along with some smaller regional deals (most recent deals include Pampers, Dove, and ProFlowers). If Brees wins the Super Bowl, he'll be in a great position to sign some even higher-profile, higher-dollar deals.
Meanwhile, Brees' current sponsor PepsiCo has also partnered with Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez and Cowboys linebacker DeMarcus Ware on a worthy new charity initiative: Fans can vote at NFL.com/PepsiRefresh or via text for one of the player's causes to receive a $100,000 grant from the Pepsi Refresh Project. Brees desires to provide rooms for cancer patients and their caregivers, Sanchez wants to build diabetes awareness, and Ware hopes to provide a safe house for abused and neglected children.
3. The Plight
Who Dat Says We Can't Write About Dem Saints?
While the NFL sent cease-and-desist orders to several New Orleans-area businesses making merchandise with the Saints' "Who Dat" rallying cry, they haven't begun to pursue those of us daring to write about the issue—and those of us who applaud Louisiana Republican Senator David Vitter, the self-described "Junior Senator of Who Dat Nation," for penning a letter to Roger Goodell that reads "please either drop your present ridiculous position or sue me." (We're clapping for Vitter very quietly, however, lest the NFL revoke our Super Bowl media credentials.)
So far, since there are no reports of Cajuns in chains throughout the Bayou, Saints merchandise continues to sell briskly, with thousands of customers standing in line to get their hands on championship gear. And millions of other Americans are standing in solidarity for woebegone Saints fans, recognizing how the team's ascendance has helped their fans, and New Orleans itself, recover after the devastation of Hurricane Katrina—57% of Americans are leaning toward the Saints this Sunday, according to brand research firm ARSgroup. The Saints have a season-ticket waiting list of 50,000 people, just three and a half years after they had a 44,000 season-ticket surplus following Katrina. And New Orleans will play host to the Super Bowl in 2013, federal stimulus funds aiding Superdome reconstruction.
The Saints' NFC victory united the region as never before, and you get the sense that if they win on Sunday, Mardi Gras will be coming early this year. Says San Francisco 49ers great Ronnie Lott, who was brought in to motivate the team earlier this season: "We all want to be inspired in our lives, and these guys have inspired all of us."
4. A Plethora of Other Telling Numbers
The Super Bowl Host Committee has worked more than 65,000 man-hours, according to data the organization released late last week
More than 20,000 workers were gained credentials to staff the site over the weeks before the game. An estimated 75% of those workers live in Florida
Workers have been hired to put up more than 350,000 square feet of tenting, eight miles of fencing, and 5,000 temporary signs
More than 550 emerging businesses—all women and minority owned—have registered with the host committee to tackle these and other infrastructure jobs, ranging from construction and security to transportation and food
Security alone costs more than $5 million
The Super Bowl Super Kids-Super Sharing sports equipment and book donation project collected more than 25,000 items to be distributed to area schools
An estimated 30 million pounds of snack foods will be consumed on Super Bowl Sunday
And according to match.com, 20% of men say they wouldn't date a woman who doesn't know which teams are playing in the Super Bowl