The Super Bowl is nearly upon us – the Kansas City Chiefs are headed to their first “big game” in 50 years to take on the San Francisco 49ers, who haven’t been there since the 2012 season, and haven’t held the Vince Lombardi Trophy since 1995.
For Kansas City fans, it’s a once-in-five-decades opportunity to win on the biggest stage on turf. For San Francisco, it’s a chance to recapture some past glory. And for every other fan base in America outside of New England, it’s a chance to enjoy the rare year off from a Patriots victory.
But more than a big day for football and football fans, it is a big day for commerce. The National Retail Federation (NRF) estimates that Americans will spend roughly $17 billion this year in Super Bowl-connected spending. According to their numbers, 194 million Americans plan to tune in to the big game this weekend, and plan to spend about $90 each on average.
The vast majority – 80 percent – of that money will be spent on food, with the remaining 20 percent divided between decorations, televisions, team apparel and accessories and furniture. About 19 percent of Americans plan to throw a party, while about 27 percent plan to attend one.
And while the Super Bowl is an American institution and is pretty consistent each year – wherever you are, odds are good there will be chicken wings offered up – there are many ways in which 2020 commerce could make the event a little different.
The Green Gold Rush – and the Damage Done
The chicken wing, as mentioned, is (and likely always will be) the undisputed snack king of the Super Bowl. During the big game this year, Americans are expected to eat a record 1.4 billion chicken wings, 27 million more than last year, according to the National Chicken Council's annual Chicken Wing Report.
Yes, there is a National Chicken Council – and yes, this is their big game, too.
“The Super Bowl is the single biggest wing occasion,” National Chicken Council Spokesman Tom Super told USA TODAY. “The demand for chicken has been increasing, and consumption is at an all-time high. But definitely around Super Bowl time, wings are king."
Wings may be king – but the avocado is rising to challenge their crown.
According to reports, Americans gearing up for the Super Bowl have pushed the import of Mexican avocados to an all-time record high in the week leading up to the game. Almost 75 million pounds crossed the border, according to the Hass Avocado Board. That’s up 3 percent from the same period in 2019.
“We expect to see volumes continue to trend upward,” said Alvaro Luque, the president and CEO of Avocados From Mexico. “Even at full production levels, the U.S. cannot fully supply the demand, creating a complementary relationship between U.S. and Mexican avocado farmers.”
Yet there is a dark side to all of the creamy guacamole Americans are gearing up to make this weekend – it has apparently tipped off an avocado-connected crime wave south of the border. According to Financial Times reports, armies of bandits are patrolling the highways and byways, looking to hijack shipments of the “green gold.”
The rise in avocado-related crime has turned parts of the state into no-go areas, even for law enforcement, according to reports.
“Where there’s money, that’s where the bad guys go. With all the publicity that it’s going so well for us – this will be the sixth year that Mexican avocados have [been] advertised in the Super Bowl – it draws attention to us,” an avocado farmer who agreed to only be identified as “Juan” told the Financial Times.
Worried about conflict avocados, but need something to feed vegetarians on game day? The internet has a solution. Apparently, “buffalo cauliflower” is the newest trend on menus and game-day tables, according to Sandy Sauter, executive chef of programs at The Culinary Institute of America.
“This versatile vegetable also lends itself to other favorite wing sauces, including barbecue, sweet and sour and sweet chili pepper,” she noted.
Maybe – with beer.
And speaking of beer, our hats are off to the industry that found 2020’s best passive-aggressive promotion.
The Off-the-Field Beer Wars
Since the inception of Bud Bowl in 1989, the Super Bowl has sparked competition not just among football teams, but also among brewers nationwide.
Last year’s winner of the advertising slapfest was Budweiser, which dedicated several million dollars to commercials dedicated to “returning” other brands’ corn syrup to them (implying that delivering it to Budweiser was a mistake, as they do not use corn syrup in their brewing process).
Admittedly, MillerCoors found the ad a good deal less funny than everyone else did, and went on to sue Budweiser over it, claiming that the corn syrup accusation was false.
This year, MillerCoors is rising from the ashes of last year’s burn at Bud’s hands to make its own move in the passive-aggressive Super Bowl beer marketing contest. To promote their new beer – Saint Archer Gold – they are trying to convince consumers that it is better than Michelob Ultra.
And what better way to prove that claim than to have the two beers compete head-to-head at your Super Bowl party? This year, the firm is advertising that if you “messed up and bought Michelob Ultra already,” they will send you a six-pack of Saint Archer – so long as they get a copy of the Michelob receipt.
Michelob Ultra is made by Anheuser-Busch – which, incidentally, was the company behind that commercial last year that ended up in court.
It’s safe to assume they are still mad.
But while revenge is among the many things money can buy on the weekend of the big game, it can also go to much better purposes.
Like thanking your vet.
The Best Use of Super Bowl Commercial Money in History
Advertising time during the biggest television event of the year comes at a steep cost – a little over $5.5 million. This is generally why only the biggest of the big brands end up shelling out money for the time slot.
But this year, one very grateful dog owner ponied up a full $6 million on a Super Bowl LIV ad to thank the University of Wisconsin School of Veterinary Medicine (UW SVM) for treating and ultimately saving his family's golden retriever from a particularly aggressive form of cancer, after the dog was given a 1 percent chance for survival.
David MacNeil, the founder and CEO of WeatherTech, noted that the dog, Scout, now has a new “leash on life,” thanks to the heroic work of the Wisconsin School of Veterinary Medicine. To repay their efforts, MacNeil is using the $6 million advertisement to raise awareness of the work they do.
“We wanted to use the biggest stage possible to highlight Scout’s story and these incredible breakthroughs, which are not just limited to helping dogs and pets. This research will help advance cancer treatments for humans as well, so there’s the potential to save millions of lives of all species,” he added.
Scout’s moving “Lucky Dog” ad has already been viewed over 300,000 times on YouTube – a small fraction of the tens of millions of people who will see it when it airs during the game.
And while we wish both teams the best of luck – and all of their fans a calm weekend – we must be honest: If we have to choose who we’re rooting for, it’s Scout the dog, hands-down.