The big competition this weekend will take place on the football field, when more than 100 million people will tune in tomorrow night to see if the Eagles will be able to snag their first championship win — or if Tom Brady will end the day able to cover 70 percent of his fingers in Super Bowl rings.
The game will be the main event for most people, particularly for fans in Boston and Philadelphia, as both cities are known for being ever so slightly fanatical about their sports teams. [GO PATS!]
But not everyone.
Many people who couldn’t care less about which team takes home the Lombardi Trophy will be tuning in to find out if Justin Timberlake is bringing “SexyBack” to the Super Bowl halftime show — and if it will be a censor-approved amount of sexy this time.
Even those who don’t care for football or pop music will probably find themselves tempted by the ads, though it’s hard to imagine there’s any way to top the ghost of Spuds MacKenzie, which made a spooky appearance last year.
That’s why advertisers are paying more than $5 million per 30 seconds of advertising, plus the cost of creating those ads. And, judging by years past, you can be sure they’re working overtime to make them memorable enough to top the list of “winning” ads come Monday morning.
Some of the fun of watching “The Greatest Show on Turf” — either for the game, the music and/or for the ads — is that there are little mini competitions taking place off the field too.
What “mini bowls” are you watching this weekend?
The Snack Bowl
Pizza vs. Wings vs. Burritos
It will be, by all accounts, a banner weekend for unhealthy eating.
Whatever final hopes Americans might have had about their New Year’s resolutions are about to be buried under the 1.35 billion chicken wings Americans are expected to eat this weekend according to the (honest to goodness) National Chicken Council.
In case you wanted to know, 48 percent of those wings will be drenched in ranch dressing, and 33 percent will be covered in blue cheese.
That’s a big move — and hot wings have a history of Patriots-like domination over Super Bowl Sunday — but pizza is always a strong competitor.
Americans, by most estimates, will order 12.5 million pizzas that will be delivered to front doors nationwide this Sunday. Those orders will come in mostly via mobile devices.
The recent explosion of mobile ordering gave Pizza Hut an idea about upping the level of its game. Sure, the chicken folks might sell more units, but Team Hut is all about winning the loyalty battle.
And what better way to develop loyalty than by buying everyone a pizza?
OK, it’s a bit more complex than that. Pizza Hut won’t be giving everyone a pizza: The Eagles or the Patriots will have to earn it for consumers by scoring the fastest touchdown in Super Bowl history.
The current record is 14 seconds, so the boys on the field are really going to have to take this seriously.
To unlock this potential bounty — a free, two-topping, medium pizza — all a football fan needs are a smartphone and a willingness to join. Customers who sign up to the chain’s loyalty program, Hut Rewards, before kickoff will be eligible. If the record is broken, members will get a notification along with the option to order their pizza for delivery (with any add-ons they may fancy).
Pizza Hut, however, noted that even without the record being broken, their drivers will be busy this year. The QSR is expected to log 5 million miles by Sunday’s end.
To scale, that’s the equivalent of driving to the moon and back 100 times in one day.
Pizza Hut’s not the only chain tapping mobile ordering to capture a super-sized Super Bowl crowd.
Chipotle is betting it can get the pizza and wings crowd to forgo their favorites in favor of a burrito if the delivery is free.
Offered in conjunction with Postmates, the service will be available in the 40 metro markets in which Postmates currently operates.
And Chipotle is thinking beyond the game: The free delivery promotion will run from Friday to Super Bowl Sunday.
Wings have the numbers advantage, but we think their cockiness is a problem. Where’s the effort to wow us?
And we think Chipotle’s move on the whole weekend — via a pair-up with Postmates — is a very competitive play.
But are burritos displacing pizza for this year’s Super Bowl? Come on, let’s be real. There are underdogs, and then there are physical impossibilities.
The Crowded Bowl
Minnesota vs. the Impending Masses
The masses are coming to the Twin Cities this weekend. The Host Committee estimates 1 million people will flock to Minneapolis on game day and the 10 days prior. The normal population of the region is only around 400,000.
And they aren’t just coming for the game. No, they’re coming to hang out.
“The Super Bowl is much more than a one-day game; it’s now a 10-day festival,” said Andrea Mokros, VP of Communications and Events for the Minnesota Super Bowl Committee.
Locally, Nicollet Mall will be festooned with free activities, and the Minneapolis Convention Center has reportedly been turned into a “Disneyworld for football fans.”
“There’s also a number of unofficial events,” Mokros added. “We expect more than 100 venues around the Twin Cities to be rented for everything from private parties to different showcases.”
Winner: Ridesharing Drivers
“I am working straight through. I’m ready to make some serious cash.”
This from St. Paul driver Kathy Reid, who normally drives for Lyft but will be working for both Uber and Lyft this weekend in the hopes of capitalizing on those surge-priced fees.
She’s not alone.
Both ridesharing companies have reportedly spent the last several months recruiting drivers, making sure they’re ready for the wave of demand the big game is expected to bring.
“It’s all hands on deck,” Chapin Hansen, Lyft’s Twin Cities market manager, said. “We have seen a large increase in driver applications that started months ago and is still continuing, even in these last two weeks leading up to the game.”
Both companies said it’s hard to say exactly how many drivers will be on the road, since they’re not formally scheduled. But both firms have upped incentives, and prices are expected to be quite high during the rush.
“We expect fares will be the highest directly following the game,” noted Uber spokeswoman Charity Jackson. “Riders can always use uberXL to ride with friends and use ‘Multiple Stops’ and our ‘Split Fare’ features to help keep costs low.”
The Dog Bowl
Supply vs. Demand (Dog Masks Edition)
The team at Amazon retailer CreepyParty recently had a creepy experience of their own. They woke up one morning to find they had sold out of one particular item in their inventory overnight.
They were rightly concerned, since, on a normal day, only about 10 or so units are sold — not the 260 they saw in 10 hours. The company assumed it was a mistake.
It was not.
CreepyParty sells oddly lifelike German shepherd masks.
“I am not happy,” store owner Jason Lee said on the first day of the sales rush. “All the inventory [selling] out is not good news. But when I [found out] why they are sold out, I am happy. I know this is a good accident, not a bad accident.”
The Philadelphia Eagles had just beaten the Atlanta Falcons in the divisional championship, and players Lane Johnson and Chris Long celebrated by donning German shepherd masks — their way of embracing (and mocking) their newfound role as underdogs.
That image went viral, and the rest is commerce history.
Once the brand ran out of German shepherd masks, Eagles fans adopted other dogs. CreepyParty’s other mask options include a husky, basset hound, black poodle — and about 1,000 more, until most of those ran out too.
So, how did we pick our winner?
By Jason Lee’s admission that he had way more buyers than masks. He told Sports Illustrated that the company easily could have sold several thousand more units.
“If we [had] more, we [would have] sold 3,000-5,000 [masks],” Lee predicted.
The QB Bowl
Wentz vs. Brady
Let’s give credit where credit is due: The official NFL Shop noted this week that Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz had the top-selling jersey.
The #2 spot on the list?
Not a bad consolation prize for Wentz, who will likely have to sit out the Super Bowl this weekend, as a season-ending injury took out his ACL at the halfway mark. Most believe he might have been the league’s MVP this year.
Tom Brady, on the other hand, will just have to search for contentment in being married to a billionaire supermodel, being the winningest quarterback in NFL history, aging backwards like Benjamin Button and being so obviously the GOAT quarterback that even the legions of people who hate him are forced to concede that part of their hate is based on the fact that Tom Brady is — almost inarguably — the greatest football player of all time.
Have you watched Tom versus Time? C’mon.
Jersey Sales: Wentz
So, what have we learned? Competition breeds competition. Burritos will make their stand against pizza. A horde of Uber drivers will be the only thing that stands between the Twin Cities and total anarchy, as an invading army of football fans descends. And Chris Wentz will get to see lots of people wearing his jersey.
From the bench.
Tom Brady will be busy winning the Super Bowl.
Hey, we’re Boston-based. What do you expect?