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Half a Century of the Big Game: What Businesses Can Learn from America's Super Bowl Obsession

Monday, February 1, 2016
EAST GREENWICH, RI – Businesses can learn many lessons from the Super Bowl phenomenon, celebrating it's 50th year this week, according to The Society for the Advancement of Consulting® (SAC).

An All-Encompassing Experience

"Business leaders should pay close attention to what goes on behind the Super Bowl," points out Lisa Anderson, The Manufacturing ConnectorSM and president of LMA Consulting Group, Inc., Claremont, CA.

"The Super Bowl is far more than a championship game. It is potentially a company's sole opportunity to ensure an advertisement is seen. No one zips through commercials! If you generate interest, your message will go viral on social media, spurring views around the globe.

"Players careers are made – and lost. Coaches gain fame. Even non-football fans pay attention. There is no other event like it in the US," she said. "Learn from its success. What can you develop in your business that will create this sort of all-encompassing focus and attention? If you gain the attention of your employees, customers and partners, opportunities will abound."

The Power of Communities

"Over the past 50 years, the NFL has grown the Super Bowl into the annual capstone event for a broad and diverse community," said Bill Sanders, Managing Director of Roebling Strauss in San Francisco, CA. "The power of that community drives advertisers to spend millions of dollars for thirty-second commercials, subverts universities into NFL farm teams, convinces local governments to fund stadiums with tax dollars, supports related enterprises from fantasy leagues to apparel companies and captures hundreds of hours of fan attention annually.

"It is an exceptional example of the power of communities. If your business is not building, supporting, or at least participating in a community, you are missing a key stratagem for leveraging business growth and profitability."

The Motivation of Championship

"The Super Bowl offers business leaders two vital lessons for leading their companies," points out Skip Weisman, the leadership and workplace communications expert.

"First, it is the ultimate in collaboration. The game was born out of a collaborative effort between two competitors. When the American Football League began competing with the well-established National Football League, they formed an informal alliance to prove superiority in the initial "Super Bowl" games. However, they soon realized the sum was greater than the parts. Imagine what collaboration and strategic partnership with a competitor and combining the best of both could achieve!

"Secondly, the Super Bowl provides a great metaphor for ultimate success. Contrary to popular belief, professional athletes are not motivated to become champions by million dollar salaries. Athletes are motivated by the vision of earning the label of champion. Today's business leaders must also be able to articulate a similarly inspiring vision," he said.

The Dark Side of The Event

Roberta Guise, a small business marketing expert and member of the Super Bowl 50 Anti-Human Trafficking Committee in San Francisco, proposes that Bay Area business leaders educate their employees on how to recognize human trafficking indicators.

According to Guise, "Sex and labor traffickers are known to take advantage of big events, such as the Super Bowl. Home-grown trafficking will happen right under our noses before, during, and after the Super Bowl.

"Restaurants, nail salons, taxis and ride-share services, hotels, and massage establishments, are prime trafficking venues. Exploited victims are as young as 12 years old. The No Traffick Ahead outdoor promotion campaign featured on billboards, public transit, bus shelters, other outdoor platforms and social media, urges the public to go to www.NoTraffickAhead.org for more information. By alerting and informing their workforce, business leaders can make it much harder for local traffickers to operate," she said.

Experience is the Differentiator

Even filling your car with gas today is an experience, as you watch the TV embedded in the pump.

Manufacturing operations consultant Rebecca Morgan, President of Fulcrum ConsultingWorks in Cleveland OH, tells us, "The market expects much more than the product now. It is the responsibility of operations to deliver memorable customer service, and that includes a complete experience. Quality, on-time, and complete are the price of admission. The experience has become the differentiator in consumer goods."

Imagine What Could Be

Karen Eber Davis, president of Sarasota, Florida firm that helps businesses give back strategically and author of 7 Nonprofit Income Streams, says, "Find out what created this success, and what sets it apart from all the other activities that begin 50 years ago but no longer exist.

"Take notes and adopt the process. You'll find it was a combination of listening to someone's ah-ha moment and imagining about 'what could be,' combined with a commitment to take the risks and do the work," said Davis.

Leadership and Inspiration Make the Difference

Dr. Maynard Brusman, a consulting psychologist, executive coach, and emotional intelligence-based leadership development expert, notes, "Preparing a team to play in the Super Bowl is a lot like preparing a business to compete in the marketplace. Success takes a little genius, trustworthy leadership, the ability to get the most out of every person in the organization, and maybe a little bit of luck."

According to Dr. Brusman, "So what lessons can company leaders take from the Super Bowl? For one thing, when the pressure is on, leaders have to step up. They can't shift the blame or lay responsibilities on others. But even bold actions in the face of tough challenges won't work if the leader lacks the skills to inspire and engage employees. The essential theme is that mindful leaders help others be successful. It's not about them; it's about the winning team!"

A Championship for Advertisers

Advertisers have turned the Super Bowl into a major advertising event, with media even soliciting viewers to rate Super Bowl advertisements in real time, according to Linda Popky, president of Redwood Shores, CA-based strategic marketing firm Leverage2Market Associates, and author of the book Marketing Above the Noise: Achieve Strategic Advantage with Marketing That Matters.

"Some of the biggest commercials in history have launched during the big game," she said. "There is an entire audience group that watches the game for the commercials, not the football.

"Not everyone can afford to buy advertising time on the Super Bowl, but marketers should treat the event as a barometer—looking at what works and what flops, and adjusting their own campaigns accordingly," she said.

Anticipation Trumps the Actual Event

According to SAC CEO Alan Weiss, PhD, "My lesson is a strange one. There is a French saying, 'The best part of the affair is going up the stairs.' The competition to get into the Super Bowl, the hype surrounding it, the unique advertising, and the entertainment are often better than the game. Anticipation and involvement are often the best kinds of marketing."

 
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