Corporate Super Bowl spending’s back. (I’m relieved, are you?)
I didn’t log much career time in the sorts of companies that spent big bucks on lavish customer entertainment.
Genuity, which was on its spin-out-from-Verizon-let’s-go-public-let’s-go-bankrupt spend-a-thon while I was there, spent oodles of money on everything. Much of this spending was internal – I recall one lavish marketing off-site, when they housed all of us (including the most of us in marketing who lived here) in the upscale Charles Hotel in Cambridge for a three day planning event. The event also featured a catered outing on a couple of Tall Ships in Boston Harbor which nicely coincided with a fabulous fireworks display. (Which, at least, we didn’t pay for. At least I don’t think we did…)
So when we actually spent money on customer wine and dine it didn’t seem all that terrible.
The biggest customer spree that I recalled involved our sponsorship of some PGA event. For the occasion, we hired Jack Welch to yack strategy at some customer forum. I believe we paid the Jack-ster $300K to get interviewed in front of our selected lucky-duck customers, who also got an autographed copy of Jack’s puff-ography. (I told you those customers were lucky ducks.) I believe one of Jack’s requirements was that we also hire Charlie Rose to interview him. Which set us back $75K or so. Jack, apparently, didn’t trust one of our corporate schmoes to do the honors.
Anyway, that was pretty much it for my exposure to any super fancy customer events. (And, while I did get a copy of one of the remaindered puff-ographies, I did not actually get to attend this event.)
Genuity may also have done some Super Bowling at one point, but I’m not 100% sure.
I would, however, have remembered if we’d participated in one of the “legendary Playboy Enterprises Super Bowl parties” noted in a recent Business Week article on the return of the SB par-tay.
Now, after falling 27 percent from 2007 to 2010 (Pricewaterhouse Cooper figure),corporate Super Bowl spending’s back. Premiere Global Sports’ travel group says its piece of this action is up 50-60 over last year.
Not surprisingly, I find this type of spending offensive on many levels. It’s so fundamentally old-school, cigar-smoking, suspender-snapping, babe-ogling, good old boy-ist that I don’t know where to begin. (Although I guess old-school, cigar-smoking, suspender-snapping, babe-ogling good old boyism isn’t a bad place.)
Plus, it’s hard to believe that, in an age of supposed transparency, anyone working in a public corporation is actually allowed to take advantage of any of this sort of corporate largesse.
But if we can interpret this as a leading indicator that businesses are a bit more optimistic about the economy, that’s a good thing. And if this new-found optimism translates into increased corporate spending on anything that even tangentially translates into more jobs…Well, yahoo! Of course, if it’s just a bit more feeling that it’s okay to be fast-and-loose-y goose-y now that the bailout taint is off the banks and auto makers, I’m a bit less on the yahoo end of things. So maybe it’s a qualified yahoo. (Qualified or unqualified yahoo, all in all, I still think it’s a ridiculous way to do business.)
What’s on tap for this year’s Super Bowl (which will be played on February 6 in Dallas)?
Well, there’ll be a party hosted by Puff Daddy, P-Diddy, Sean Diddy Combs who, for whatever else he is, is a supremely successful businessman. There’ll be another party hosted by Pamela Anderson. Hmmmm. I’m not quite sure what her, er, business bona fides are. Not that I doubt for a moment that she doesn’t have them aplenty. And, business acumen aside, I’m sure that she has a great deal to commend her presence at a business event. Bud Light is co-sponsoring the Playboy party. And, while this year’s players have yet to be named, Burger King, Captain Morgan, and AT&T are in on a flag football game. (Last year’s game starred NY Giants quarterback Eli Manning and J-Lo. Can’t wait ‘til they announce this year’s line up. Peyton Manning and Lady Ga-Ga?)
Let the game begin!