In a script that not even franchise owner Jeffrey Lurie — himself a Hollywood producer — could have ever dreamt of conjuring up, Philadelphia Eagles’ US National Football League (NFL) fairy-tale run ended with a sensational maiden Super Bowl win in Minneapolis on Sunday.
The 41-33 victory was highlighted by the captivating story of 29-year-old, back-up quarterback Nick Foles, called up just six weeks ago to replace first choice Carson Wentz whose knee injury ruled him out for the rest of the season.
And as much as Super Bowl 52 lived up to it’s billing on the drama-filled pitch, the finale’s sideshows and financial appeal continued to equally amaze.
With television commercials costing an estimated $5 million (Sh500 million) for a mere 30-second slot, the Super Bowl maintained its niche as one of the most lucrative sporting events globally.
Even then, Villanova University marketing professor Charles Taylor maintains the “obscene” amounts are of “good value” to the advertisers.
“A Super Bowl ad is absolutely worth it. It can boost brand equity and possibly sales.. but it has to be a good ad,” Taylor was quoted as saying by AFP news agency on Monday.
I bet only a few followed Sunday’s NFL showpiece game in Kenya, first because of its kick-off in the unfriendly hour of 3am, Kenyan time, and also owing to the fact that American football hasn’t really caught up on the African continent.
But the Super Bowl’s allure had some diehards up until dawn, among the global audience of 100 million that followed the action from the US Bank Stadium which included a somewhat underwhelming half-time dance party by American singer and songwriter Justin Timberlake.
The much hyped event was expected to rake in an estimated $100 million (Sh10 billion) in ticket sales alone, a tidy sum enough to run Lamu, Isiolo, Tharaka-Nithi and Elgeyo-Marakwet counties, combined, for one financial year.
By last Friday, prices of ordinary tickets had risen from $900 (Sh90,000) to as much as $3,000 (Sh300,000), with the average asking price shooting to $5,642 (Sh564,000), according to the Minnesota Star Tribune.
“The Super Bowl, as in other sports, has been taken over by the moneyed,” Kenya-born businessman George Mayaka, who lives in the Super Bowl host State of Minnesota, told me in a chat as the Eagles battled to the hard-won victory over the Patriots on Sunday night.
“Even regular tickets to a season game can set you back $300 (Sh30,000) per person. Not family time for sure anymore.”
Despite the temporary inconvenience, Super Bowl benefits for the host city and State are enormous. It is estimated that the local Minnesota metro transport system will realise $338 million (Sh33.8 billion) in economic activity related to the NFL showcase.
“Hotels, restaurants were on a high and took advantage of the occasion,” Mayaka explains.
“The number floated before the Super Bowl was an economic benefit of $500 million (Sh50 billion) for the week. We should have real numbers in the coming week.
“It was fun. Not sure that we will experience anything like it in a long time.”
And the numbers would have more than doubled had home team Minnesota Vikings made it to Super Bowl 52.
They were eliminated in the conference championship game by the Eagles, much to the chagrin of John Nyaega, another Kenyan living in “Twin Cities.”
“We as the Minnesota Vikings fans were disappointed when the Eagles defeated us two weeks ago, but we enjoyed the run,” he reacted as the Eagles soared to a now-famous maiden Super Bowl victory.
MLS THE FUTURE
But Mimi Omogeni, yet another Kenyan who has settled in USA, believes Major League Soccer (MLS) will soon take up the NFL’s place as the richest sporting league, not only in USA, but globally.
“MLS is the future of sports in the US,” she argued. “The way states and county governments are investing in soccer is definitely going to overthrow NFL in the next decade.
See how much clubs are investing to hire ex-European league players? This is all for talent and mentorship.”
The Super Bowl experience demonstrates the power of sports marketing in building a strong brand, something Kenyan sports managers ought to study with keen interest.