What Businesses Can Learn from the NFL and the Deflategate

Photo courtesy of Zennie Abraham via: https://flic.kr/p/nQ5epT

Roger Goodell photo courtesy of Zennie Abraham.

As if they haven’t gotten enough bad press following wife beating and child slapping scandals, the NFL gets another black eye following what has come to be known as deflate-gate. Is it a black eye though? Maybe to some but the entire incident has garnered unprecedented press for a game that is traditionally TV’s biggest event of the year.

According to the Los Angeles Times, NBC sold every available commercial spot for Sunday’s Super Bowl, ultimately establishing a new revenue record. Reportedly, each 30-second spot sold for an average of $4.5 million, to generate more than $360 million for Comcast-owned NBC. “This is a record day, I believe, in media, and certainly for our company,” Seth Winter, executive vice president of NBC’s ad sales for news and sports, said during a conference call with reporters. “The NFL and the Super Bowl remain the platinum standard of all media.” This year more than ever, those sponsors will get their money’s worth and they can all thank the New England Patriots and Deflate-gate for the favor.

Let’s face it, a villain always makes for a better story.

This year, the Patriots and their deflated balls have become everyone’s villain. The boys from Boston, already known for bending if not breaking the rules, unknowingly transformed the trash-talking, or in the case of Marshawn Lynch (aka Beast Mode)…non talking…brash, bullies from Seattle into the good guys.

This story has generated interest from so many angles. On January 21st, it trumped the President’s State of the Union address as the lead story on four major networks. On the lighter side, Deflate gate provided fodder for late night talk show hosts as well as a very funny skit on Saturday Night Live. From a more serious perspective, it focused a spotlight on the already questionable leadership of NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell.

Following his poor handling of the Ray Rice-Baltimore Ravens debacle, it was Patriot’s owner Kraft who came to Goodell’s defense…the same Kraft that played a major role in approving Goodell’s stout salary package of approximately $44 million last season. According to GQ writer, Gabriel Sherman: “So large is Kraft’s sway with Goodell that one veteran NFL executive likes to call him ‘the assistant commissioner,”

From a PR perspective deflate gate is a polarizing promotional pearl.

It has expanded an already massive interest in the Super Bowl, generated thousands of hours of TV, radio, and internet discussion, and pages and pages of press while prompting usually reserved personalities like Joe Montana to comment on the situation. Just about everyone has taken a side. The best part about deflate-gate? It promises to be around for a while. People will want to see if Commissioner Roger Goodell has the inflated balls to stand up to his good friend, Robert Kraft’s deflated balls. We’ll be watching.