The Super Bowl is considered a secular holiday in the U.S. for good reason. It is one of the most unifying events in America. Sunday's game between the Giants and the Patriots was top viewed program in TV history with an estimated total of 111.3 million (and that doesn't count people watching in bars in New Jersey and across the country). The result and the creativity of the commercials will continue to be topics of morning banter, particularly here in Giants Country.
The Big Game means big business for small business owners. For Indianapolis, this year's host city for Super Bowl XLVI, the contest brought an estimated boom for local hotels, bars, restaurants, caterers and rental car agencies. The NFL predicted that the Super Bowl generated $150-$400 million for the city's coffers. Sporting goods retailers have already sold millions of dollars worth of Giants T-shirts and other NFL merchandise.
Go Daddy is a big company that hosts web sites for countless small businesses. The tech company has become known for its Super Bowl ads featuring sexy race car driver Danica Patrick. In 2012, she was again the spokesperson for GoDaddy.com commercials, and the spots have helped to make the web hosting and services company a household name.
However, most small companies cannot afford the $3.5 million price tag for 30-seconds of air time. Those commercial spots are gobbled up by the likes of Acura, Budweiser, Coca Cola, Batman: Dark Knight Rises, and Honda, which aired a clever “Matthew’s Day Off” ad, spoofing Matthew Broderick's famous Ferris Bueller movie.
While they are prohibited from advertising and using the term "Super Bowl" unless they are officially licensed to do so, smaller businesses aggressively promote their establishments by tying into America's obsession with football. Countless bars and restaurants promote their "Big Game" specials. Savvy marketers have taken advantage of the opportunities and the slow news cycle to generate attention to their businesses. After all, which is more interesting: the New York - Boston (New England) rivalry or the Nevada Republican primary?
• Kilkenny House in Cranford, NJ, was highlighted on WABC-TV/ch. 7 "Neighborhood Eats" segment for its exceptional artichoke and brie dip as a Super Bowl appetizer. During previous post-season games, News 12 NJ broadcast live from the popular pub.
• Umberto's Pizzeria in New Hyde Park, NY, made 12 of the Giants' favorite pies, drove with a police escort to LaGuardia Airport and shipped them to Indianapolis so that the players could have their weekly pizza party. Camera crews followed the shipment from the pizzeria to the airport.
• Foley's NY Pub & Restaurant (18 W. 33rd St.) scored a coup by banning the sale of Samuel Adams in the midtown Manhattan watering hole and by making a bet with McGreevy's, a Boston sports bar. The pub owner whose team loses in the Super Bowl will have to travel to the other's establishment and tend bar while wearing the winning team's jersey. The stunt resulted in national coverage on the MSN home page, Fox & Friends, NPR Talk of the Nation, as well as local TV, radio and print attention in the New York metro area and in Boston.
• Brady's, a bar in Manhattan renamed itself "Manning's" for Super Bowl Weekend.
Yes, some of these stunts are silly, but they have generated tons of publicity for small businesses that could never approach the investment required to purchase TV advertising during the Super Bowl. The awareness drives business. For instance, Foley's reported a disappointing crowd for the Giants-49ers NFC Championship Game. Following the hoopla of the Sam Adams ban, Foley's had so many reservations for tables (130+) that the pub had to stop taking them several days before the Super Bowl. A clever marketing ploy resulted in big business for a small business!
John Mooney is the founder of Scotch Plains, NJ-based Over The Moon Public Relations and is an expert in helping small businesses grow. During his two decades in p.r., John has delivered award-winning programs and measurable business results for Fortune 100 companies, small businesses, and nonprofit organizations. He earned his MBA in Marketing from Rutgers, and his BA in Communications from Fordham University.