The NFL super-hype machine gave it its best shot, but it never really had a chance.
The mega-promotional event dubbed Super Bowl XLVIII by the league was won in a landslide by the City of New York (yes, technically the game was played across the Hudson).
That’s not unusual. NYC always wins. It is a city that makes any happening feel insignificant because it is the intellectual, commercial and sports capital of the world.
The United Nations? Its just another debating society. Hollywood? Broadway has produced the greatest of playwrights and the most famous actors have got their beginning on the legitimate theater before going to the other coast. Film actors, who never played in a theatrical production, yearn to prove themselves the Great White Way.
No show is big enough to steal the spotlight from N.Y. and the Super Bowl, despite help from the best PR, advertising and promotional minds from around the globe was unable to help XLVIII steal the spotlight from the Big Apple.
I’ve been to a number of Super Bowls in other cities, not as a fanatic but to handle the sports marketing public relations efforts for clients. It was Super Bowl talk 24/7 during Super Bowl week in those cities. Not so in NYC.
There were more important things for the NYC media to focus on during the lead-up to the Big Game: Olympic terrorism, “Bridgegate,” (e.g., Jersey Governor Chris Christie got a barrage of Bronx Cheers during his appearance on Super Bowl Boulevard in midtown), stop and frisk, pre-k, Iran, Syria and all the problems of the world that can affect Americans regardless of the outcome of what in reality is just another football game
For most of the two weeks preceding the actual game between the Denver Broncos and Seattle Seahawks, football news was almost obliterated and relegated to the back of the newspapers or limited to a few seconds of TV coverage, except for one story: What will the weather conditions be on game day.
It was only on the Friday before the game-- ok, maybe on Thursday—NYC’s dailies covered the Super Bowl the way that other cities that I’ve been to covered it for at least an entire week.
And not all the news was positive. On the day before the game, the New York Times ran a lengthy Super Bowl story that the N.F.L. would rather not have been published. It was about a fan suing the league for selling ticket in violation of New Jersey law. Also, making news was that a group of vendors protested not being able to work as normal because Super Bowl Boulevard was off limits to them. But probably the most embarrassing news for the N.F.L. was Joe Namath, on the morning of the game, reiterating on CBS’s Sunday Morning With Charles Osgood that he has suffered brain damage from playing football (he also had two knee replacements).
Said Broadway Joe: None of the body was designed to play football. Excuse me, you know, football, we're just not designed for." This hours before he was to share the game’s ceremonial coin toss with Phil Simms.
Of course Gov. Andrew Cuomo claimed that the Big Game was a financial $300M bonanza for the Big Apple. That would be a windfall for past hosts like Jacksonville or Phoenix. In NYC, it’s chump change.
And now the game is over. And to most New Yorkers it was as if the game was never here. The excitement that the N.F.L expected when it awarded the game to NYC was largely missing.
Maybe that’s because New Yorkers are blasé about hosting big events. It’s not that we don’t like them, it’s that we’re used to them: U.N. General Assembly meetings, Opening Day at Citi Field, political conventions, World Series, World’s Fairs, July 4th fireworks spectaculars, parades down Broadway witnessed by millions: been there done that.
New York is a Super City without the Super Bowl. Maybe the “Big Game” is better suited for a smaller city.
Perhaps, if the Giants or Jets would have played in the Super Bowl there might have been more excitement in NYC and Jersey. But looking at both squads that dream match-up is way, way down the road.
That’s okay. We’ll survive. There’s never a dull moment in NYC’s medialand.
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Arthur Solomon was a senior VP/senior counselor at Burson-Marsteller. He contributes to public relations publications, consults on public relations projects and serves on the Seoul Peace Prize nominating committee. Solomon can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.