Friday, January 30, 2009


AMERICA’S economy is shrinking and unemployment rising. But some things can survive, even in the toughest climate, and it appears the Super Bowl is one of them.

Last year’s Super Bowl between the New York Giants and New England Patriots attracted an average audience of 97.5 million and was the second-most watched TV program in U.S. history (the final episode of MASH in 1983 had an average of 106 million viewers).

It’s unlikely Super Bowl XLIII will quite reach those heights, but it appears that despite the recession, host broadcaster NBC will sell all of its advertising slots.

NBC has allocated 33.5 minutes of commercial airtime. At around $3 million per 30 seconds, that will generate revenue close to $200 million. Not bad for one night’s work!

Expect a hard-sell approach to this year’s ads. “Any advertisers that are going to spend $2 million to $3 million for a spot, their shareholders and chief executives will want to see a return on that,” says Mark Chmiel, chief marketing officer for Denny’s.

Sometimes the commercials are more exciting than the game itself. But not last year, when Eli Manning led the Giants to a thrilling upset win over the previously unbeaten Pats.

Underdogs can turn up the heat in Tampa

This year, the Arizona Cardinals are cast in the role of underdog against the Pittsburgh Steelers. In stark contrast to the Steelers, who have won the Vince Lombardi Trophy five times, the Cardinals are making their Super Bowl debut in Tampa.

They have been the surprise team throughout the playoffs, beating the Atlanta Falcons, Carolina Panthers and Philadelphia Eagles.

In Larry Fitzgerald, they have one of the best wide receivers in the National Football League. The question is whether 37-year-old quarterback Kurt Warner, MVP of Super Bowl XXXIV when he played for the St Louis Rams, can get the ball to him against one of the best defenses in the league.

Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, running back Willie Parker and wide receivers Hines Ward and Santonio Holmes are the key men in the Steelers offense. But perhaps their biggest weapon will be safety Troy Polamalu.

If the Cardinals fail to give Fitzgerald sufficient protection, he could see more of Polamalu than is good for either him or the Cards.

In the Cardinals favor is the fact that the temperature in Tampa will be considerably higher than it is Pittsburgh, who have been ideally suited by the recent frigid conditions.

If they can turn it into a high-scoring game, there’s every chance that Cardinals can copy the Giants and spring the upset.

Either way, it should be a great occasion – and one that proves that even if bleak times, America still knows how to party!

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