The only team I ever worked for was the New England Patriots, so I cannot describe first hand how other teams that have earned the right to compete in the Super Bowl approach the game from a business standpoint. However, NFL executives reported that many marketing and business folks view the win as an opportunity to enjoy and savor the season. At the Patriots, we viewed it very differently. NFL executives acknowledged that fact as well by saying, “No one capitalizes on revenue leading up to the Super Bowl like the Patriots.”
We began preliminary preparations on the business side prior to the AFC Championship game, but once we won that game, we kicked things into high gear, and that’s when the real work began. The two weeks leading to the Super Bowl consisted of very long days of selling, marketing and organizing. Our mission was to generate the most revenue possible in that two-week period, while providing the most enjoyable experience for our partners, customers and premium seat members.
The organization came together in great harmony; regardless of the department you normally worked for, during these two weeks of preparation, everyone had a specific role to ensure that our mission was realized to the highest level. For example, accountants might have been in charge of room manifests, concession managers could’ve been responsible for managing a fleet of car rentals, and operations people managed transportation and luggage handling. The Patriots organization came together working for a common goal.
We were very successful in our efforts. To this day, folks come up to me saying that those trips were so well run and precisely put together. We also achieved our revenue mission in generating millions of incremental revenue in those two weeks. I’m not talking one or two million – we brought in more like eight, nine, ten million dollars. This revenue was just in the hospitality, special programming, and additional sponsorship areas; it doesn’t include merchandise, Super Bowl ticket sales, or other traditional revenue streams.
The only explanation I have for other teams not rising to the occasion is that the folks running marketing and other areas of the organization were fans first. Their enjoyment of the game and the moment was more important than the opportunity that was right in front of them. This is not a broad stroke comment regarding all business departments of teams entering the Super Bowl; I truly have no first-hand knowledge of how each team approached getting to the big game. But from the stories I have heard from employees in the NFL, many teams approached the two weeks as a victory lap. To me, that screams “fandom” and it seems that the owners of those teams did not have their eye on the ball, or at least on the big picture. Winning is about revenue for the business side of an organization, nothing else. It’s not about enjoying the moment; it’s about making sure others enjoy it so you can capitalize on their emotion, experience and wallet.
Most teams lose money when they get the right to play in the NFL’s biggest game. Most teams leave a lot of money on the table before, during, and after the big game. The Patriots organization is not like most teams. We were not in the business of being fans, and we were not in the business of losing money. I am very proud of our organization for not letting the excitement around the game cloud our judgment and derail us from our purpose and responsibility. Winning doesn’t occur just on the field, and we made sure of that.