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Mike Root

What Can the Super Bowl Tell Us About Selling Furniture?

February 6, 2013

The Super Bowl is and event and for some even a tradition that celebrates the end of a long season for a uniquely American professional sport. There are two components of the event: the game itself and the hoopla around the game.

This year the game comprised teams from both coasts — the Baltimore Ravens and the San Francisco 49er's. Many years the games are not exciting with winner determined well before the final minutes tick off the clock. This year was an exception with a goal line stand by Baltimore enough to hold off San Francisco in the final 2 minutes.

But what makes this event so special? The game scored a 48.1 overnight Nielsen rating and a 71 share in a select measurement of big cities, which would make it the third most-watched TV event in U.S. history. The 2011 and 2012 Super Bowls are one and two in all time TV event viewership.

That's right a football game is the most watched television event in U.S. history. Not a Presidential debate that has real consequences to the nation, not a visit by the Pope or any visiting head of state, not an Oprah show when she was in her prime, the last episode of Seinfeld, or the Academy awards. It was a football game played by teams made up of players most people in the country have never heard of.

Of course the answer to why is the entertainment value of the whole Super Bowl eco-system. It's not so much who was playing unless of course you lived in Baltimore of San Francisco. It was more an excuse to gather, to have stories to talk about today (like I'm doing), to get sucked in by all the hoopla leading up to the bowl game, to watch Beyonce dance and sing her way during the halftime extravaganza, to watch the goofy overpriced commercials during the game, and then to hear all the analysts after the game.

It is in short a worldwide event that a great number of people want to see what's going on.

This has evolved over time with much money invested to create an audience that perpetuates itself year after year. It really would not have made a difference who played the game. The hoopla, the buildup, the analysis, and the money spent, and the number of people watching were all going to happen no matter what.

I always consider how I can apply lessons learned and observations made to my business of selling furniture. If you are a retailer you can easily use Super Bowl type promotions like Gardner's Furniture in Baltimore did. They promised anyone who bought furniture over the weekend that they would get it free if Baltimore had a kickoff return to start the game or to start the half. That's exactly what happened and over $600,000 of furniture was now free to the customers paid for by an insurance policy.

You can review the ads and see which ones were successful and make your own version of them. My favorite ad was for Ram truck that took a Paul Harvey story about farmers and put it to pictures utilizing his voice. Of course I'm in the Cornhusker state so I am partial to hard working folks who live off the land. Their success means they buy lots of furniture in our part of the country. If you missed the ad you can see it on my blog at

My biggest takeaway from the whole Super Bowl experience can be applied by retailers, factories and reps alike. Look at how much time, thought and preparation went into creating this event. Look how many related parties work in unison to make this an event. The players are the actors but behind the scenes you have sportscasters that have to prepare. Press releases and interviews are done in advance. TV Commercials are rolled out just for this event and the success or failure of these commercials can make or break a year. The halftime show brought its own star power and was its own production.
In other words, in order to pull off a Super Bowl, there was a lot more going on than two teams showing up to play a game that day. If you want to pull off a Super Sale, a Super Furniture Product Launch or a Super Sales Presentation then you need to do more than just show up ready to play.

Best of luck in creating your own Super Bowl of furniture. As always feel free to leave any positive comments below. Mike