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During Super Bowl week, the marketing world’s attention focuses on the TV ads crafted for the NFL’s championship. After all, the Super Bowl is TV advertising’s biggest and most expensive stage, hitting around $4 million per 30-second spot this year. Consequently, brands spend millions more producing ads that they hope will shine.
However, this year marketers trying to deliver messages in and around the host city of New York face an equally daunting and expensive problem: how to be heard above the din of marketing messages that’s routine in the nation’s biggest city.
Pepsi is building a 10,000-square-foot dome in Bryant Park where entertainment will range from celebrity chefs to concerts.
Former NFL sponsorship chief Peter Murray advised league sponsors for 13 years on how to break through the annual morass of Super Bowl clutter. Still, he never had to contend with a game in the Big Apple.
“During Super Bowl week, marketers are really competing with New York itself,” said Murray, now president of Insignia Sports & Entertainment. “You try to stand out by using ownable ideas, staging them in iconic places and engaging people with the right mix of entertainment and sports attractions.”
Unable to secure the Javits Center for its annual NFL Experience fan fest, the NFL instead was forced to move much of its sponsor activation to Super Bowl Boulevard, 13 blocks of Broadway between 34th and 47th streets. The area will be open Wednesday through Saturday from noon to 10 p.m. and will feature interactive games, player appearances and concerts, and a 60-foot-tall toboggan ride sponsored by GMC. Eleven league sponsors will be involved in Super Bowl Boulevard, including Papa John’s sampling free pizza and McDonald’s handing out gratis coffee to frigid fans.
“We’ve told our partners to embrace the cold weather as an essential part of this Super Bowl,” said Renie Anderson, NFL senior vice president of sponsorship and partnership management. She noted that official hotel Marriott Courtyard will be distributing free hot cider and cocoa at its hotels, while SAP is sponsoring hand warmers at MetLife Stadium, where fellow league sponsor Campbell will be sampling Chunky soup.
“At Super Bowl, we really depend on our NFL rights and benefits to separate us from the pack,” said Phil Pacsi,
Time Warner Cable is building the “TWC Studios” in New York City’s Meatpacking District. The attraction will feature concerts and attractions from the company’s content providers.
Bridgestone has activation on Super Bowl Boulevard and like many other sponsors is playing off a seasonlong award platform at the Saturday night “NFL Honors” awards celebration and TV show at Radio City Music Hall.
FedEx, an NFL sponsor since 2000, will be pushing its One Rate service on Super Bowl Boulevard by giving away bags that, when filled, are the same size as the shipments that qualify for its new flat-rate shipping offer.
The question is whether Super Bowl Boulevard will be too noisy to make any impact.
“It’s not necessarily any more difficult, just more challenging because of the costs there,’’ said David Grant, a principal at FedEx agency Team Epic. “You also have to factor in that New Yorkers are just tougher to convince than most consumers and that’s certainly because of all the clutter there.”
For the largest league sponsors, the M.O. this year seems to be “Go big or don’t go.”
In addition to its sponsorship of the halftime musical performance, Pepsi is placing a big spend against on-the-ground activation for the first Super Bowl in its home market. A 10,000-square-foot dome over a portion of Bryant Park will include celebrity chefs, performances by contemporary musicians and Broadway performers, art and concerts.
Anheuser-Busch is transforming a new, 1,000-foot-long Norwegian Cruise Line ship into the latest “Bud Light Hotel” brand immersion extravaganza. When pressed, A-B executives will admit that this exercise in over-the-top branding cost more than a Super Bowl spot — and A-B also has five of those.
“Starting at last year’s Super Bowl, we were asking ourselves, ‘How do we top this in New York?’ where it’s as tough as anywhere to get noticed,” said Rob McCarthy, vice president of Bud Light.
“Bud has raised the bar for everybody [with the Bud Light Hotel],” said David Abrutyn, global head of consulting for IMG, whose Super Bowl clients include NRG Energy, Under Armour, USAA and Marriott Courtyard. Marriott Courtyard is playing off its “Greatness on the Road” promotion at “NFL Honors” and wrapping a fleet of double-decker buses with Courtyard and NFL branding during the Super Bowl period.
“For brands, what makes it different this year is to be part of something really unique in a cold-weather Super Bowl, so even the most tangentially attached companies are looking for Super Bowl connections and legitimate NFL sponsors are really flexing their muscles,” Abrutyn said.
Time Warner Cable is headquartered in New York City, so it’s devoting considerable money to making a splash during Super Bowl week, when many of the nation’s top media and marketing executives gather. A 45,000-square-foot “TWC Studios” installation over three stories in the Meatpacking District will showcase many of the cable provider’s content partners. Around 25,000 customers will see interactive displays for partners such as HBO’s “Game of Thrones,” ESPN’s “SportsCenter,” History Channel, Food Network and Fox Sports 1.
“Of course, it’s Super Bowl week, but one effective way to bond with consumers then is to connect with all of their passion points,” said Greg Luckman, global head of CAA Sports Consulting. “For consumers, this will be as if they are stepping into their cable boxes to enjoy their favorite content.’’
Wasserman Media Group Consulting’s NFL sponsor clients include Pepsi, Microsoft and Verizon.
“Brands worrying about trying to ‘own’ New York are a waste of time,” said WMG Consulting Co-President Elizabeth Lindsey. “Just focus on what you can control — owning your own brand in the minds of your own consumers. If you do that well enough, the rest will take care of itself.”
Even cause-related Super Bowl functions have to fight for notoriety in New York, where charity galas are as commonplace as traffic jams.
For the Giving Back Fund’s annual “Big Game, Big Give” Super Bowl fundraiser, that means finding an even bigger-name host than usual, in Alec Baldwin, and boosting the price of what’s always considered one of the most sought-after party tickets an additional $500. “It’s New York, so we felt OK about going from $1,000 to $1,500 for something that’s 90 percent tax deductible,’’ said Giving Back Fund founder and President Marc Pollick.
Seeking the New York spotlight, the party’s sponsor, Lamborghini, is using cranes to hoist two $500,000 vehicles atop the 12-story Tribeca rooftop event space where the party will be held. At last year’s “Big Game, Big Give” in New Orleans, three Lamborghinis were sold, one for a cool $1 million.
Pollick expects to top last year’s total of $650,000 raised, with between 600-700 guests expected. “You got more celebrities and high-wealth individuals per square inch in New York, but that also brings with it higher expectations,” he said.
While all marketers have recently been dedicating more dollars to social and digital media, the degree of difficulty when it comes to being heard during this Super Bowl has some accelerating those marketing investments.
NFL sponsor Castrol is giving away 10 pairs of Super Bowl tickets through a “social scavenger hunt,” in which consumers have to post “selfies” in iconic New York and New Jersey locations, including some Castrol retailers.
Carolyn Eckert, director of integrated marketing, said the goal was to take the iffy weather out of any Super Bowl promotion. “The social piece should help us break through what will be a lot of noise,” Eckert said. “The New York market is our home and one of our strongest markets, so our first totally social media campaign should be a great test.”
As the nation’s financial and business center, a Super Bowl in New York is driving more business-to-business marketing than ever. Some have prepared business-focused agendas, before the hospitality agenda begins. “This will be the most supercharged Super Bowl for business networking,” said Insignia’s Murray.
The Legacy Agency is charging $10,000 a table for a powerful b-to-b breakfast speaker lineup on Thursday that includes under Armour founder and CEO Kevin Plank, Fox Sports President and COO Eric Shanks and Twitter Sports Chief Geoff Reiss.
“We decided that the best approach for this Super Bowl, with the heavy industry audience, was a blend of hospitality and unique access,” said Legacy Agency CEO Mike Principe, whose company is also booking between 80 and 100 athlete appearances for the likes of Hall of Fame quarterback and ESPN analyst Steve Young.
Whatever their plans, those attempting to be heard above New York’s cacophony of marketing messages are acutely aware of the degree of difficulty involved.
Horizon Media is helping longtime Super Bowl radio rights holder Westwood One put some of its larger corporate patrons, like Geico, onto a branded bus that will house radio broadcasts and make 25 stops, across all five boroughs, during Super Bowl week. In many markets, that would be relatively easy. In New York City, not necessarily so.
“Oh, we’re prepared,” laughed Westwood One CMO Christina Albee. “I have a slush fund just for Super Bowl [week] parking tickets.”
To get an idea of the impact a Super Bowl in and around New York City has on sales of NFL-licensed products, all you have to do is look at the amount of merchandise NFL licensees are bringing to market.
“We’ve doubled our [Super Bowl] SKU count and sales have already surpassed last year,” said John Killen, president of leading hard-goods licensee WinCraft, more than two weeks before the Super Bowl. WinCraft has enough Super Bowl and conference champion pennants, lanyards, key chains and the like on its website to fill 15 pages.
Considering this is winter, it’s a bountiful harvest for NFL licensees.
This Modell’s Sporting Goods in New York City showcases some of the Super Bowl merchandise that’s available.
Photo by:Terry Lefton / Staff
The consensus among licensees is that as the country’s most populous city and its top tourist destination, the opportunity for Super Bowl merchandise without the competing teams’ names and logos is unprecedented. Moving from New Orleans, a city of 400,000, to the Big Apple has every NFL licensee rejoicing.
“If any city is going to generate business just on the basis of being the Super Bowl site, it’s New York,” said New Era Cap President Pete Augustine. “The right teams getting there just adds to that.”
Added Modell’s Sporting Goods CEO Mitchell Modell: “Anything that’s never been done before is a strong seller, so the generic stuff looks very good. Everyone wants to buy a piece of history.”
The cold-weather location has brought with it an abundance of outerwear and fleece and accompanying higher retail price points. All that has added up to NFL licensing czar Leo Kane forecasting a record Super Bowl retail cash register ring of more than $200 million. To help ensure that, NFL licensed product has expanded this month to some nontraditional licensed-product retailers such as Party City, Bed Bath & Beyond, and a temporary 38,000-square-foot licensed product emporium within Macy’s flagship store in Herald Square.
All of the NFL’s business partners have been told to celebrate the cold weather that will be the backdrop for this NFL championship. Accordingly, VF’s T-shirts are emblazoned with slogans like “Rain, Sleet or Hail Mary” and “You Say 48 Years — We Say Fashionably Late.”
“Everyone’s expectations are higher and the opportunities for us in higher price-point items like hooded fleece pieces are huge,” said Jim Pisani, president of VF’s Licensed Sports Group. “What we’re all trying to figure out is what kind of multiple having the biggest game in the biggest market produces.”
Kane said he’s had the answer for a while. “We knew all along this would be our biggest Super Bowl, because of the market size,” he said. “Looking at the teams, we don’t have any doubt it will.”
Media Day is being transformed into a bit of a fashion runway. Players will no longer wear on-field jerseys and instead will model a “sweatless sweatsuit” from Nike’s Silver Speed Collection.
Like any tourist destination, New York has an abundant supply of licensed product retailers — and it will have more during Super Bowl week. Naturally, that’s making ever-cautious retailers even more so.
“Our expectations are a bit tempered, because there’s so much competition,” said John DeWaal, vice president of marketing at Lids, which is operating the Macy’s store through Feb. 3, the day after the Super Bowl. The store had its soft opening on Jan. 17. Prior Super Bowl pop-up stores were open a maximum six days.
“The good news for us is we are the only official NFL shop,” DeWaal said. “And we do think there’s something unique about being the first and maybe the only Super Bowl in New York.”
Everything from badges to Hello Kitty
Roughly 50 of the league’s 170 or so licensees have created Super Bowl-specific products, according to data provided to SportsBusiness Journal by the league. Here are some of those providers and their offerings for this year’s championship game.
■ The Highland Mint: Public safety badges
Manufactured by White Plains, N.Y.-based Smith & Warren, these badges (distributed by Highland) are intended for public officers and range in price from $90 to $125, depending on when an order was placed. Officers have the option to purchase up to two badges each. The badges are serial numbered and recorded to their personnel files.
Orders opened in September and will continue until two weeks after the Super Bowl. After that, the steel dies used to make the badges will be retired, and the badges will never be produced again.
This year’s program ultimately will include participants from more than 100 departments, said Lee Galperin, vice president of Smith & Warren. He declined to disclose sales numbers but did say the number of participating departments this year was greater than the numbers seen the past two years, in New Orleans and Indianapolis.
Based in North Venice, Fla., Tervis has been an NFL licensee since the mid-2000s. It began producing Super Bowl-specific designs in 2010. This year, for the first time, the collection will include a limited-edition, chrome, 16-ounce tumbler. “We’ll add a dueling teams design after championship weekend, and of course our Super Bowl champions design,” said Maureen Mason, Tervis’ vice president of licensing. “Last year was Tervis’ most successful year for Super Bowl designs, and we are currently tracking about 40 percent ahead,” she added, declining to specify the sales volume. The key retailers for Tervis’ Super Bowl products are Tervis.com; Bed Bath & Beyond; and Lids.
■ Museum Editions/Charles Fazzino: Artwork
“Our artist, Charles Fazzino, has commemorated 14 Super Bowls, starting with  in Tampa,” said Julie Maner, director of business affairs for Museum Editions, Fazzino’s exclusive publisher. Maner previously spent nearly two decades in MLB’s licensing operations. “The Super Bowl work exists in a variety of mediums,” she said, “including an open-edition poster print, limited-edition 3-D fine-art prints, and hand-painted helmets and equipment.”
■ MyFanClip: Team-logoed multipurpose clips
Hall of Fame quarterback Jim Kelly’s company became an NFL licensee just a few weeks ago, ensuring that the multipurpose clip that can be used as a money clip, a paper binder, a clip for food storage and other bindings has a chance to benefit from exposure at this year’s Super Bowl. Dan Kelly, vice president of Jim Kelly Inc. (and Jim’s younger brother), said a newly signed national distribution deal with Bed Bath & Beyond should also help. The company is based in the Buffalo suburb of Williamsville, N.Y., and the clips are manufactured in nearby Harborcreek, Pa.
■ Outerstuff: Apparel
Located on Broadway in the heart of Super Bowl Boulevard, Outerstuff has been a league partner since 2002. The company produced three catalogs of NFL licensed items this fall, including Super Bowl-themed jerseys, T-shirts, hoodies and knit hats.
■ The Northwest Co.
Based on Long Island, the Northwest Co. has been a Super Bowl licensee for more than 20 years. It plans to sell 15 product types this year, including a variety of blankets, hand warmers and rugs, a plush Hello Kitty figure holding a Super Bowl throw, and plush footballs. Ross Auerbach, president and CEO, said the company has designed three ads that will be displayed on different billboards around New York and New Jersey during Super Bowl week.
— David Broughton
Fox Sports sold its final in-game Super Bowl advertising spot in early December, two months before the game. NBC Sports Group stopped taking ad sales orders for the Winter Olympics in early January, more than a month before the Sochi Games are due to start.
Even though the two biggest TV events on this year’s U.S. sports calendar start in the same week in early February, both have found more than enough advertisers to support them. And concerns that these two big-ticket events would siphon ad dollars from other televised sports events have not materialized. Even with a record amount of advertising dollars flowing to a New York-based Super Bowl and the Winter Olympics — in excess of $1 billion combined, sources said — other high profile sports in February, such as NASCAR’s Daytona 500, which will be on Fox Sports, and the NBA All-Star Game (TNT), are seeing robust markets as well, according to the networks and ad buyers.
These competing billboards in New York’s Times Square sum up how the Super Bowl and Winter Olympics have battled for the attention of consumers and advertisers.
Photo by:Terry Lefton / Staff
For the executives who buy and sell sports TV advertising, the robust ad sales marketplace, now years in the making, is another sign of how live sports has become the dominant programming genre on television, consistently outperforming prime-time entertainment programming.
“There’s a lot of places to take money from, and I don’t think they’re taking it from the sports bucket,” said Ed Erhardt, president of global marketing and sales for ESPN. “Almost everyone has suggested that this will be a stronger year for advertising because of the Olympics and the World Cup.”
An executive with Optimum Sports, which has some of the biggest advertising clients in the business, says much of the money flowing into the Super Bowl and the Olympics is coming from prime-time entertainment, which has seen viewership levels continue to decrease.
“If you’re trying to reach that prime-time audience, the next best thing is sports,” said Jeremy Carey, U.S. director
The sports market is not just getting money from prime-time entertainment. Sports also is picking up a disproportionate share of new money that’s coming into TV advertising. Take the Web design company Squarespace, for example, which bought a Super Bowl ad despite not having a big TV advertising presence.
“Organic growth in television is going to sports: If other areas in television are growing less, sports is growing more,” Byrne said.
Seth Winter, executive vice president of sales and marketing for NBC Sports Group and NBCUniversal News Group, said the huge ad markets surrounding the Super Bowl and Winter Olympics have had no effect on NBC Sports Groups’ other sports, like the NHL and Premier League, which he said also are pacing ahead of expectations.
Winter said his group was just starting to sell horse racing’s Triple Crown and tennis’ French Open.
“Sports is a great part of the media business right now,” Winter said. “Live, in general, is doing extraordinarily well. There’s a resonance that live programming has with advertisers more greatly today than even yesterday and I anticipate even more so tomorrow.”
Among the categories driving the overall sports advertising market are technology, films and quick-service restaurants.
“I don’t think we’re at a high point like it was before the crash,” Carey said. “But I think it’s more dynamic than we’ve ever seen, at least in my time. There are so many options out there.”
One interesting area to watch is the auto sector, which has proved to be particularly strong in this market. In fact, it has rebounded so strongly from the recession that at least one influential media buyer is concerned that it may be inflating the market.
“We start to think internally here if there’s a little bit of a bubble there,” Optimum Sports’ Carey said. “Should we be cautious of that, not particularly as it pertains to the Olympics, but things like the Super Bowl and the NFL?”
In the Super Bowl, autos are granted “pod exclusivity.” That means that other automobile brands cannot run messages during that commercial pod. This year, eight auto advertisers — from Audi to Kia — have produced 60-second, 90-second and 120-second ads for the game.
“What happens if it comes back and these guys next year say, ‘We don’t want to buy the two-minute spot, or the 90 or the 60. We just want to buy the 30,’” Carey said. “That puts another 15 units or so into sale. That’s something we’ve been cautious about — not that it speaks to the marketplace this time around because it was gangbusters.”
Bud Light’s captain
Vice president, sports and entertainment marketing, Anheuser-Busch InBev
Sundet has helped transform run-of-the mill hotels in the host Super Bowl city into Bud Light Hotels four times. It’s
The ship arrives this week, when hundreds of workers will have fewer than 40 hours to fashion an “immersive brand experience,” including 2,500 Bud Light-branded pillows and towels, and 6,000 bottles of Bud Light-logoed shampoo. The installation extends to the USS Intrepid next door and across the West Side Highway. It will take 1,500 man-hours to transform the space, which will be used for four days of parties and concerts.
“It’s exponentially larger than anything we’ve done,” Sundet said, “but when a key retailer tells me it’s an unbelievable experience, then I know it’s worth it. … The really scary thing is that some of my team has already visited Phoenix to see about next year.”
The stadium’s go-to guy
Vice president, facility operations, MetLife Stadium
Duernberger is the New Meadowlands Stadium Co.’s No. 2 man at the host Super Bowl facility behind Brad Mayne, MetLife Stadium’s president and CEO. Duernberger will work hand in hand with the NFL on Super Bowl operations, which includes construction, field maintenance, union trades and in-house broadcasting/engineering. He will draw upon 34 years of experience in building management, the last 15 of which have been spent operating sports venues.
Duernberger knows MetLife Stadium like the back of his hand. The joint venture running the stadium hired him in April 2009, one year before the facility opened.
Coordinating producer, “Sunday NFL Countdown,” ESPN
Forget the Seahawks’ Richard Sherman or Broncos’ Peyton Manning. ESPN started planning stories for its Super Bowl pregame show a year ago.
Twelve months ago, Jewell came up with features that ESPN is going to use during this year’s Super Bowl pregame
“We always hope we have two or three of those special things like that in the bank,” said Jewell, who will travel to Manhattan from Bristol, Conn., on Thursday to be on-site.
By the fall, Jewell has about 50 percent of the Sunday pregame show mapped out. This year that includes a heavy emphasis on New York, with Gotham notables like Joe Namath, Spike Lee and John McEnroe providing voice-overs. ESPN also licensed George Benson’s “On Broadway” and Alicia Keys’ “Streets of New York” for its telecast.
“We try to make sure the Super Bowl city is as much a character as the teams and the matchup,” Jewell said. “I’d say we started sitting down in November to map out our plans in terms of what we’re shooting in the city and who are going to be our New York voices.”
Directing Boulevard traffic
Mary Pat Augenthaler
Vice president, events, NFL
Whether it’s Super Bowl Boulevard, the NFL Tailgate party, or the new league pop-up restaurant, one theme is constant: Mary Pat Augenthaler is behind the scenes making sure it all works.
The No. 2 executive in the events division for the NFL, Augenthaler has been working on Super Bowl Boulevard for two years. Shutting down 13 blocks in the heart of midtown Manhattan for a football-themed festival over four days is no easy feat. She also worked on Forty Ate, the NFL’s pop-up restaurant in Times Square, where a table can be had for the entirety of Super Bowl week for $50,000.
Augenthaler is also a key gatekeeper to the tailgate party the day of the game, where celebrities and industry types congregate before heading into the stadium.
Serving it up
General manager, Delaware North Sportservice, MetLife Stadium
Executive chef, Delaware North Sportservice, MetLife Stadium
A pair of executives with Delaware North Sportservice will be in the food and beverage trenches at MetLife Stadium.
Lohr oversees all aspects of food, beverage and retail operations at the stadium, covering 75 full-time staff and 3,000 Super Bowl game-day workers.
Lohr’s career in sports started in 1991 at the Meadowlands as a retail buyer for Facility Merchandising Inc. He worked stints for Aramark and SMG Savor before Sportservice hired
Borgia oversees all culinary operations at the stadium, including the 300 suites and multiple club spaces, and look for him to bring a personal touch. He played a key role in developing the vendor’s Home Field Advantage brand focusing on New York and New Jersey cuisine, which includes a recipe for his grandmother’s meatballs and red sauce served in a hoagie sandwich.
— Compiled by Don Muret, Daniel Kaplan, Terry Lefton and John Ourand