SBD/February 18, 2011/Marketing and Sponsorship

NFL Sponsors Reportedly Upset With League After Super Bowl XLV Fallout

The NFL Tailgate Party ahead of Super Bowl XLV “turned into chaos” as the league was focused on straightening out the seating snafu, and many sponsors were “forced to wait in line for as long as 2 1/2 hours to get into the tailgate party and were not pleased with the shabby way they were treated,” according to league sources cited by Paul Domowitch of the PHILADELPHIA DAILY NEWS. One source said, "It was a disaster from the start, with no signs or people directing people to the (VIP) parking lot or the drop-off area. The seating issue became all encompassing. Anyone in an authoritative position was brought inside to help calm people who lost their seats. That took people away from outside the perimeter.” A league source said that some of the companies “whose executives had to wait in those long lines, including FedEx and Castrol Motor Oil, have threatened to pull out as Super Bowl sponsors next year.” The league has “spent much of the last 2 weeks running damage control with those companies.” Domowitch notes sponsors “weren't the only ones ticked off at the way they were treated in Dallas” as league owners and execs also were affected. Cowboys Owner Jerry Jones in the bid to host Super Bowl XLV offered “several hours of free use of a limousine” for NFL owners. But when Saints co-Owner & Exec VP Rita Benson LeBlanc "called from the airport for her free limo, she was informed that the perks were only for each team's principal owner.” A source said that Tom Benson “was furious with Jones.” Many league execs also “were upset when they and their families were told at the last minute that they had to give up their Super Bowl seats and watch the game on television in a tent outside the stadium as the league gave their seats to many of the displaced 1,200” (PHILADELPHIA DAILY NEWS, 2/18).
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