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Richard Doty
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Last modified: Thursday, January 16, 2003

IU faculty perspectives on the Super Bowl

EDITORS: With the Super Bowl coming up on Jan. 26, Indiana University Bloomington is offering several faculty experts who can provide insights on various aspects of the event, including psychologists, economists and marketing professors. Sources may be contacted directly. If you need further assistance, contact Richard Doty or George Vlahakis at 812-855-3911 or by e-mail at rgdoty@indiana.edu or gvlahaki@indiana.edu.

Hosting the Super Bowl may be prestigious, but the economic impact for the host city is modest and narrowly felt by companies in the hospitality business, according to Bruce Jaffee, associate dean for academics in IU's Kelley School of Business. Jaffee, a business economist, has done several economic impact studies of other major sporting events including the Pan American Games, the Indianapolis 500 and the NCAA Basketball Final Four Tournament. "The net economic impact of major one-time sporting events like the Super Bowl tends to be modest," Jaffee said. "Communities provide cash or in-kind contributions to 'win' the event, and they incur extraordinary public service costs when the event takes place." He said there is a lot of visitor spending at these events, but it is concentrated on hotels, food, entertainment, souvenirs and travel. Jaffee acknowledged that "there is a significant prestige element from hosting such an event along with considerable free media publicity, which helps the image of the community as a desirable travel destination." The Super Bowl will be held this year in San Diego, Calif., on Jan. 26. Jaffee can be reached at 812-855-8796 or jaffee@Indiana.edu.

A humorous advertisement can help viewers cut through the clutter of pre-game shows, hours of advertising and the game itself, but the ad will not be effective unless the viewers learn something about the product. "A humorous ad may be very effective at drawing viewers into the ad, but then they spend so much time on the humor that they pay very little attention to the message. Our studies show that humor needs to be linked to the brand name and the message for the ad to be effective," said H. Shanker Krishnan, associate professor of marketing in IU's Kelley School of Business, who has studied the use of humor as a memory aid in advertising. "If the fun and happy feelings are associated with the brand, it can make that brand enjoy positive associations in consumers' minds. For example, Sam Adams might be associated with great taste, but Budweiser with fun times. Do people buy beer for the taste or fun times, or both? Also, the fun aspect of the ad may be easily remembered by consumers when making decisions." The stronger the humor, the more likely that viewers will pay attention to the ad. The stronger the link between the humor and the brand name and claims, the better the chances of the brand name and claims being remembered from a humorous ad. His newest research paper is forthcoming in the Journal of Consumer Psychology. Krishnan can be reached at 812-855-1210 or skrishna@indiana.edu.

Depending on the intended audience, the Super Bowl remains an excellent opportunity for advertisers to establish a brand, according to Jonlee Andrews, clinical associate professor of marketing in IU's Kelley School of Business. "One of the biggest components of branding is awareness, and if the Super Bowl is reaching the right people and making them aware of your brand, then it is the right tool for you," said Andrews, who researches brand management and consumer marketing. A number of start-up firms and "dot com" companies have used this major event in recent years to garner awareness for their products, with mixed results. Andrews emphasized the importance of having a successful product before developing a successful brand. "You can have a highly recognized name or a highly recognized symbol, but your eventual success depends on how meaningful your product is and the quality it has," she said. Andrews can be reached at 812-855-3425 or jonandre@indiana.edu. More information about Andrews is available at http://www.kelley.iu.edu/Marketing/bcards/bcardja.htm.

Though his 49ers have been eliminated, Scott MacKenzie, a professor of marketing in IU's Kelley School of Business, will be following the action closely on Super Bowl Sunday. MacKenzie; Robert E. Smith, a professor of marketing; and Laura Buchholz, a lecturer in marketing, have developed a new measure for studying marketing creativity. The professors and their students will be grading advertisers' performance on nine measures of creativity and two measures of relevance. The scale and its supporting research are discussed in a paper, co-authored with a professor at the University of Toledo, that is now under review at the Journal of Marketing Research. There are a lot of creative ads that people remember, but they aren't always effective in selling the product. "Ads that are highly divergent may sometimes win awards for creativity, but they won't be effective in the marketplace unless they are also relevant to the consumer. Divergence with relevance is the key to creativity that works," MacKenzie said. The IU professors measure an advertisement's dimensions of divergence from what consumers normally see, its relevance and its ability to connect to people as individuals. Buchholz can be reached at 812-856-5533 or lbuchhol@indiana.edu. MacKenzie can be reached at 812-855-1101 or mackenz@indiana.edu. Smith can be reached at 812-855-1202 or smith5@indiana.edu.

The Super Bowl is a major television network promotional tool, according to Susan Tyler Eastman, an IUB professor of telecommunications. "The Super Bowl has enormous benefits for promoting prime-time shows," Eastman said, "but it has always interested me that the results bring such short-term benefits because so many of the promoted shows fail." Eastman, who has 25 years of experience in television programming and marketing, pointed out that evidence of the value of on-air promotion can be seen in the fact that the big four networks (ABC, CBS, NBC and Fox) annually forgo more than $4 billion in advertising revenue to promote their shows. She said other benefits associated with the Super Bowl include the prestige of airing the game for the selected network and its affiliate stations, the appeal of the event to new and prestigious advertisers, and the ability to package advertising time buys that include such a major sporting event. Eastman can be reached at 812-332-2996 or eastman@indiana.edu.

How can pro football do so well when other sports leagues face bankruptcy or possible contraction? "We see successful expansion of the National Football League into Houston, while two National Hockey League teams seek bankruptcy protection and Major League Baseball threatens to close two franchises," observed Thomas Bowers, co-director of the MBA Sports and Entertainment Academy in IU's Kelley School of Business. The reasons for the National Football League's success are numerous, including a national television contract that guarantees teams a profit without needing to sell out games, a schedule that stimulates maximum fan interest, and a lack of genuine direct competition. "Fans have several days to get excited about and talk about upcoming football games," said Bowers, also the school's Argosy Gaming Faculty Fellow. "Baseball, basketball and hockey -- with daily schedules or three or four games a week -- give little time for fans to generate interest in any one game. There are fewer games in football, increasing the importance of any single game." Bowers can be reached at 812-855-9309 (office), 812-369-8418 (cell) or bowers@indiana.edu. More information on the academy is available at http://www.kelleyse.biz/.

High anxiety can help or hurt players in the Super Bowl, according to Jack Raglin, a sport psychology researcher at IU Bloomington. "Many of the players in the Super Bowl are likely to experience high anxiety during the game, but this does not necessarily harm their performance," said Raglin, a professor of kinesiology with 15 years of teaching and research experience in sport psychology. He said many sport psychologists believe that elevated anxiety in athletes harms their performance, and they have stressed use of relaxation techniques to lower anxiety. "However, research indicates that the influence of anxiety is highly individualized. Many athletes perform their best when their anxiety is at a high intensity," he said. Raglin said the best coaches seem to know how their players respond to anxiety and can adjust their motivation accordingly. Raglin can be reached at 812-855-1844 or raglinj@indiana.edu.

Both individual and community self-esteem are affected by the Super Bowl, said Edward Hirt, an associate professor of psychology at IU Bloomington whose research includes how a fan's self-esteem rises or falls with his or her team's winning or losing. "When their team wins the Super Bowl, the positive feelings of success can raise the self-esteem of fans and the community. But when they lose, the results can be embarrassing and undo the success of the season. If riots occur, it can be devastating for the city," said Hirt, who studies the personal costs and benefits of being a sports fan. "There is a potential for huge mood swings in the Super Bowl because of the magnitude of the event," he said. "But for some fans, just having their team get to the Super Bowl is enough." Hirt can be reached at 812-855-4815 (office), 812-360-4901 (cell) or ehirt@indiana.edu.