Super Bowl hype has hit a new high/low with the announcement that game tickets for OUTSIDE of Cowboys Stadium will be offered for $200 a piece, purchased in blocks of four. Super Bowl XLV fans will be provided an array of supersized HD monitors as well as the privilege to buy food and beverages adjusted in price to match the magnificence of the event. In all fairness, those standing outside the taxpayer subsidized 1.15 billion dollar sports dome will get a complimentary scarf.
Along with the neckwear, there’s that intangible called “status” that makes one a little lightheaded if not lighter in the wallet. The hype engine for the Super Bowl is not based on a love and appreciation of a sport but rather built on the idea of selling status. The schmuck who doles out a couple C-notes for bragging rights to almost being at the Super Bowl is nothing compared to companies who pay around $3 million to run a 30-second Super Bowl television ad. And, that doesn’t even count the production cost of the ad.
Part of the charge is related to the large viewing audience but a significant amount of money is tagged to the status associated with being in an exclusive club of advertisers. Especially, in this current economy, I wonder about the wisdom of spending millions of dollars to make a sales pitch to folks who are in the middle of a party.
At least Super Bowl commercials are amusing and give viewers the chance to rate something other than the game that may not be as entertaining. However, the National Football League really needs to lighten up on its hype(r) sensitivity toward those who wish to piggyback off the Super Bowl with unsanctioned events and promotions. The NFL has trademarked their own three letters as well as “Super Bowl,” “Super Bowl Sunday,” and “Super Sunday.” Those who infringe on this dubious claim of intellectual property are susceptible to receiving a cease and desist order.
New Orleans area merchants found out last year that the Saints fans’ catch phrase “Who Dat?” was also claimed as intellectual property by the NFL and would be defended like a goal line stand against unauthorized use. For good measure, the use of the fleur-de-lis was also included in cease and desist orders. While the fleur-de-lis is the Saints logo, I don't think it originated in 1967 with the founding of the team. It's too bad the French monarchy isn't still around to add a counter suit to the mix.
The NFL doesn’t limit its intimidation tactics to only commercial ventures as Fall Creek Baptist Church in Indianapolis discovered in 2007. The church was deemed guilty of an unholy trinity of infractions. It posted “Super Bowl Bash” on its website. They planned to use a projector screen that exceeded the 55-inch limit and worst of all – wanted to collect money for refreshments that the NFL considered an attendance fee.
Meanwhile, back at the billion dollar ranch, Cowboys spokesman Brett Daniels said, “The ultimate goal is to get as many people as we can here in North Texas to come out and be a part of it, to touch and feel the Super Bowl.” One would think he was describing a religious pilgrimage. However, packing the surrounding area of the stadium could give Cowboys owner Jerry Jones a miracle of sorts – a Super Bowl attendance record. The NFL has decided to count fans who can see the stadium but not the game. It’s where football and horseshoes merge. If it’s close – it counts. Now, that's what I call hype.