The Super Bowl is the biggest entertainment and media event of the year in the United States. The game and all its side dishes can make or break players, companies and brands. As is the case most years, there were some big winners and big losers in 2008.
Winner: New York Giants Quarterback Eli Manning
Inconsistent performances, high expectations and the best pedigree in the NFL have haunted Manning since he entered the league in 2004. New York sportswriters and fans took it to a new level this year when they constantly questioned his desire to win because of his monotone emotional response to mistakes and losses. There are probably a lot of people who owe Manning an apology, but he won’t ask for one. Manning exhibited poise and class on and off the field on Sunday, leading his team and saying all the right things. With Manning, it’s not hard to believe that when he does the latter, he actually means it. The best way to change people’s perceptions of you is to go out and prove them wrong, and Manning did just that.
Winner: Tom Petty
The aging rocker looked a little fat in the chin, but he sounded great during the halftime show. I was watching the game in a local bar and the entire crowd was singing along with Petty, an amazing feat considering that every other year people have ignored the halftime show. An attempt to conduct a raffle was even shouted down while Petty was playing. While one piece of anecdotal evidence doesn’t mean much, Petty did get high marks from many in the media for his performance. His song selection (“American Girl,” “Won’t Back Down,” “Free Fallin'” and “Runnin’ Down A Dream”) also proved to be perfect metaphors for the game of football and the spirit of America. With a tour on tap this year, Petty served himself well with his performance.
The television network scored thanks to a marquee match-up that resulted in the second-highest U.S. television audience ever for any program. (The final episode of M*A*S*H still holds the record.) The game generated over $250 million in revenue, according to Rupert Murdoch, and reviews of FOX’s broadcast were generally positive despite the seemingly endless promotions for “American Idol.”
Whoever decided to release the 3-D movie “Hannah Montana & Miley Cyrus: Best of Both Worlds Concert” on Super Bowl weekend deserves a raise. The film raked in $29 million at the box office, a record for a Super Bowl weekend, and provided much-needed entertainment for non-football fans and their children. What’s most impressive is that the movie showed on only about 680 screens, meaning that each screen generated approximately $42,500 in revenue. “A typical No. 1 movie in wide release would open in about 3,000 theaters and average perhaps $7,000 per theater,” Reuters reported.
Winner: Procter & Gamble
The company’s ad for its Tide-To-Go product featuring a talking stain interrupting a job interview was a huge success. The ad was unusual in that household products such as detergent are not typically promoted during the Super Bowl, making the high marks it got an even bigger coup. We’ll have to wait and see, but P&G may have started a new trend.
Winner: Needy Children
The Patriots loss meant that hundreds of thousands of items of clothing bearing the “19-0” reference to an undefeated season were suddenly worthless. The merchandise has been donated to World Vision, a charity that serves needy children in over 100 countries. The PR generated by stories about the “19-0” gear will help World Vision in its efforts.
The Super Bowl Advertising Review Panel at The Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University rated the company’s commercials “worst,” with panel members saying the spots were “offensive to some,” and lacked a clear description of the site. Jay Posner of The San Diego Union-Tribune said it is “hard to remember a more offensive commercial” than one of the company’s ads. Meanwhile, James P. Othmer of Portfolio said, “[Any commercial] would seem like a classic if it followed either of Salesgenie.com’s C.E.O.-created train wrecks which somehow managed to be visually, aurally, and racially offensive.” Salesgenie.com actually hyped its lousy ads with a press release ahead of the game noting that its commercials were roundly considered the worst of those that aired during the 2007 Super Bowl. I guess aiming low is easier than aiming high. While the ads may attract visitors to the company’s website, Salesgenie.com isn’t helping its image.
Loser: New England Patriots Head Coach Bill Belichick
Belichick’s team lost on the field and he continues to lose the PR war. The Patriots’ coach was eviscerated by sports pundits for leaving the field before the game was actually finished, heading to the locker room as the referees made the Giants run one more play. He also continues to be the worst-dressed coach in professional sports. While he is arguably one of the best coaches in NFL history, Belichick is widely considered by fans and the media to be one of the biggest jerks in the game. Nothing he did on Sunday will change that perception.
Loser: Under Armour
The athletic apparel maker took a lot of grief from investors when its financial guidance was disappointing due, in part, to its decision to launch its line of shoes with expensive Super Bowl ads. The commercials bombed and were generally considered some of the worst of the game by fans in various polls.
Loser: Weatherproof Garment Company
The garment company wanted to set a record for the shortest Super Bowl ad ever by running a two-second spot, enough time to say “Weatherproof.” The company’s PR firm, 5WPR, sent out a release about the ad, spelling the word “commercial” wrong, according to CNBC’s Darren Rovell. A few hours later, another release came in saying that the ad would not run “due to timing restraints.” Weatherproof President Freddie Stollmack told The Los Angeles Times that the original release went out due to a misunderstanding and that the ad time had not been secured. “We thought we would get some PR exposure out of it,” Stollmack said. Well, Weatherproof did get some PR out of it, but at what cost? Looking stupid and trying to pull one over on some journalists?
This article, written by Ben Silverman, originally appeared in PR Fuel (http://www.ereleases.com/prfuel), a free weekly newsletter from eReleases (http://www.ereleases.com), the online leader in affordable press release distribution. To subscribe to PR Fuel, visit: http://www.ereleases.com/prfuel/subscribe/.