Super Bowl 50: A Net-Positive Event?

It’s finally that time of year again: Super Bowl season. While scores of dedicated fans watch the game they’ve been waiting all year to see, scheduled on February 7th, many marketers like myself look forward to  watching the commercials. It was recently announced that Colgate is planning to air a “Save Water” commercial, in alignment with their #EveryDropCounts campaign, to encourage consumers to reduce their water consumption by turning off the tap while brushing their teeth (similar to their 2014 commercial below). Since the advertisement will be focused on Colgate’s water conservation initiatives and not their actual product’s attributes, I think they are pursuing an Extreme Green strategy (high differentiability of green attributes among competitors, substantial amount of green segments to target). Thus, the Colgate brand is seeking to position itself as an industry leader in terms of water conservation among its consumers. While I think the advertisement will capture many Super Bowl viewer’s attention, as it uses guilt tactics and negative framing (how much water you waste), I don’t think it will positively impact long-term water usage.

While marketers are attempting to reach consumers during the Super Bowl, a pre-game campaign has been developed by the San Francisco Bay Area Host Committee, in partnership with social marketing agencies, with a goal of making the Super Bowl 50 a “net positive event.” The “Play Your Part” website lists the ways in which the Host Committee is planning on achieving this goal: 1) decreasing emissions through TerraPass offsets, increased public transport, and renewable energy utilization to power the stadium; 2) Supplying locally-sourced, organic food options at concessions and encouraging fans to #BringYourOwn reusable water bottles, and 3) Investing in a water recovery program and waste management plan. As for the fans, the campaign is intended to reward them for “taking the pledge” to engage in one or more sustainable behaviors during the Super Bowl, such as printing e-tickets, using car share services, or hosting a green party. After making the pledge, fans are automatically entered to win a number of prizes (including tickets) and are given 50 “GoodCoins” to allocate to one of four non-profits in the Bay Area. While this campaign is capitalizing on a self-benefit normative appeal, I don’t think a simple pledge will significantly increase sustainable behaviour on game day. As we learned in class, consumers face a number of barriers when trying to change their behaviour and for many, using another form of transport or carrying reusable containers on game day may be too inconvenient. The fact that any fan can take this pledge (without actually having to commit it) makes the campaign less effective. Rather, it only serves as an altruistic,“feel good factor”, especially for people who have an external locus of control, or as a means for die-hard fans to win NFL merchandise and get tickets to the game.

One thought on “Super Bowl 50: A Net-Positive Event?

  1. Not only is the host committee working to make this Super Bowl a social and environmentally sustainable Super Bowl, but also the stadium itself in Santa Clara is extremely sustainable. It’s the first NFL stadium to receive the LEED Gold certification, and is representative of how the NFL is changing and creating a greater focus on sustainability, both within and without. The Atlanta Falcons are even targeting the prestigious LEED Platinum certification with their new stadium, still within the planning stages. While only a small part of the event, I find it heartening that the NFL is finally looking to make sustainability a more important part of their events, stadiums, and future operations.


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