Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Oh, Great, Another Beer Ad....Get Back to the Game!

It is simple supply and demand economics. When a product is in excess demand relative to the supply, the price goes up. Its hard to fathom a place where alcohol is viewed as in less supply than its demand, yet such a place arguably exists. Within the confines of a professional sports stadium, alcohol is behind only a win and a crushing hit in demand from fans. What is the evidence? The win and the hard hit is met with the loudest cheers, and the alcohol costs an astronomic 8 dollars a bottle.

 Walk into FedEx Field in Landover, Maryland, home of the Washington Redskins, and you will be greeted by forty foot banners advertising Bud Light. Watch a football game on television, and you will see an average ratio of beer commercials to all other commercials of about 1 to 4. Coors Light is the official beer sponsor of the NFL, but that doesn’t mean it is the ONLY beer sponsor of the NFL. Coors spends $300 million dollars over 5 years (sportsbusiness.com) to be the “official” sponsor of the NFL. Anhauser-Busch and Miller both offered rivaling contracts.

 If you have ever been to a professional football tailgate in your lifetime, you know the demand side of the equation more than makes up for the 300 million dollars spent by Coors for the title of official sponsor of the NFL. By game time, the lot will literally be littered with beer cans and bottles. It would be easy to believe Coors makes this money back nationwide in one month of the season, tops. If you talk to lifelong football tailgaters, and you ask them what to drink with their burgers, hot dogs, or steak sandwiches, they won’t answer “beer”, they will ask you, “Lager or ale? Pale or Brown?” It is a foregone conclusion you will consume alcohol before a football game. Even with the early start times of 1 PM.

 It is a part of the NFL culture. It comes with the territory of the lure of the 16 game season. With every game vital to a team’s success or failure (many teams every year miss the playoffs by one game), each game takes on the mentality of live or die, win or go home. Every game has the atmosphere of a big game, unlike baseball, hockey or basketball, which all have over 80 games in the season and multiple game series as a playoff format instead of single games, like the NFL.

 With the combination of sponsorships and the big game atmosphere of the NFL, it has become a traditional pairing. Does this carry with it negative connotations? Of course. Do fans often go too far? All the time. But, it is tradition. By now, beer goes with football as naturally as Thanksgiving goes with Turkey (and football, which subsequently goes with beer. Man they covered all their bases). Without trying to make too much of a grand statement about society and culture, I simply find it ironic that many phases of society are attempting to promote responsible alcohol use, and the dangers of alcohol are being taken as seriously as ever. Yet, at the same time, from the time a child watches his first football game, or goes to his first baseball game, he is taught to never think of a professional sports outing without considering first, Coors or Bud?

No comments: