More than a mere football game, the Super Bowl is one of the country’s biggest annual events. In honor of Super Bowl 50, we’ve come up with 50 do’s and don’ts planners can learn from the big game over the years.
1. Do show confidence. Quarterback Joe Willie Namath guaranteed a victory before the underdog Jets’ improbable win in Super Bowl III. Without outward confidence from its leader, the team almost certainly would not have exceeded expectations. Be that kind of leader to accomplish great things.
2. Don’t lose track of your equipment. Bills’ star running back Thurman Thomas missed the first play of Super Bowl XXVI because he couldn’t find his helmet. It set the tone for Buffalo’s second-straight championship game loss (two more would follow). Planners can’t be sidelined a moment during their events, so they need to know where their tools are at all times.
3. Do tie in sponsors to content. The Bud Bowl was the perfect blend of advertising and sports. Some fans couldn’t bottle up their excitement over the promotion featuring the beers going head-to-head on the gridiron, making it a true success. Think about what your event’s goal and create matching paid content.
4. Do tug at heartstrings. Every year, Budweiser releases feel-good commercials centered on its iconic Clydesdales. The ads, which are known to induce a few tears, are a great distraction when teams are head-to-head. Find ways to add some game-day reprieve during your event.
5. Do avoid scandal. In the playoffs leading up to Super Bowl XLIX, the New England Patriots, and specifically quarterback Tom Brady, came under fire for tampering with footballs used in a game against the Indianapolis Colts. The 2015 controversy—better known as Deflategate—caused major uproar for the team that went on to win. If you hear rumors that could affect your teams, nip it in the bud immediately.
6. Don’t forget who’s watching. Because everyone watches the Super Bowl, it’s inevitable that someone will get offended each year. In 2015, the offender was Nationwide’s commercial showing a child talking about all the things he won’t be able to do in life after passing away in an accident, and in 2014, it was Coca-Cola’s ad during which “America the Beautiful” was sung in eight different languages. Know your audience and make changes as needed.
7. Do make a show of social issues you support. In the lead-up of Super Bowl XV in New Orleans, a giant yellow bow was attached to the Superdome for the Iran hostage crisis. Attendees want to see that you care about the world outside the event.
8. Don’t repeat the same event program year after year. In Super Bowl VI, Cowboys’ running back Duane Thomas uttered this infamous line, “If it’s the ultimate [game], how come they’re playing it again next year?” Make sure each year you incorporate new elements, design, speakers and programming so people believe your event is the ultimate.
9. Do record and photograph as many event elements as possible. In the first televised Super Bowl in 1967, NBC missed the second-half kickoff because a reporter was busy interviewing comedian Bob Hope. The referee ordered a rekick, but in event planning, you won’t have the same luck. If planners don’t document an incredible moment for recap videos, social media, next year’s promotional and marketing materials, or even sponsor reports, the moment is lost forever.
10. Do have a plan in place for conference crashers. During Super Bowl XII, legendary gate-crasher Dion Rich (who snuck into more than 30 Super Bowls!) was famously photographed carrying coach Tom Landry off the field after the Dallas Cowboys beat the Denver Broncos. Suitcasing is also illegal for suppliers, who may try to hang out in the lobby or common areas and charm your attendees without paying registration fees.