Super Bowl XLVIII: Football fans are greener than you think

Super Bowl XLVIII: Football fans are greener than you think

Over 100 million people are expected to watch the Super Bowl this year. The event might be associated with consumption and indulgence, but the NFL still knows it needs to appeal to the greener football fan.

This coming weekend will be one of America’s most indulgent. Based on last year’s estimates, we can expect to ravage 1.23 billion chicken wings that we will wash down with 325 million gallons of beer. Perhaps the most stunning projection is that Americans will eat 3.8 million pounds of popcorn.

Think about that: 3.8 million pounds of one of the lightest foods known to man.

Game day has truly become one of the country’s top holidays. Masterminded by the NFL, America’s most popular and shrewdest professional sports league, the big day ranks second only to Thanksgiving in food consumption – sorry Saint Nick, Christmas dinner isn’t what it used to be.

Well, all this fanfare is for good reason. The NFL is red meat for the American dream. It’s fast, flashy and its made-for-TV format makes the event ripe for consumption. Not just in homes across America but at the event itself. A typical host city can expect nearly half a billion dollars to flood into its local economy.

The pre-parties, game, after-parties, hotels and limos – not to mention the ocean of jet fuel it takes to get everyone there – must have a carbon footprint about the size of Rhode Island. Now, don’t worry, I am not about to rain on your game day parade by complaining about this gluttonous fervor. I’ll be right there with you. In my mind, it’s America’s cheat day, and I am not about to grudge it.

The NFL, however, seems to disagree. Not willing to concede environmental irresponsibility, this year is being touted as the greenest Super Bowl ever. The idea of an eco-friendly orgy of consumption seems a bit ironic, but if you look at the reports, the efforts being made are nothing to scoff at.

The event is being held at the league’s greenest venue. The resume for MetLife Stadium includes recycled and sustainable building materials, the use of rehabilitated land, composting initiatives and an on-site solar generation system. Game day efforts will also include converting cooking oil to bio-diesel, eliminating polystyrene foam containers, and recycling and composting whenever possible.

Of course, all this is lost on the average NFL fan. I mean, it’s not exactly a green demographic, right? Wrong. Using recent data from our MRI database, we’ve seen that some of the most eco-conscious consumers are just as big football fans as the rest of the nation. The stereotype that Americans who really care about the planet will be eating granola and doing yoga during the game is simply not accurate. Their wings may be free range and their Seahawks/Broncos stickers may be affixed to hybrids, but they will be cheering as loud as the next guy.

So, is the NFL trying to be a good corporate citizen? Or are they, as one of America’s shrewdest brands, simply trying to leverage their market and build more brand loyalty? My guess would be both. As wildly successful as the NFL is, there may be rough road ahead. The bad press about how it has managed its most valuable natural resource – player bodies/brains – is mounting, and a planet-friendly initiative can help build goodwill. The NFL, a brand truly built on excess and consumption, is implementing a pretty basic principle that all successful companies are becoming aware of: Sustainability is good for business.


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Posted on

January 30, 2014

About the Author

Matt Brass

Matt Brass

Matt steers the creative department in concepting, designing and producing all campaigns and collateral. With nearly two decades of marketing design under his belt, Matt has extensive experience in design, photography and videography, as well as blogging about the latest and greatest (or worst) ad campaigns out there. He leads our team on kayaking trips, too.

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Suzanne Shelton

President and CEO

Suzanne is the voice and the vision of Shelton Group. Drawing on her extensive experience in energy and the environment – and 25+ years in the marketing and advertising industry – Suzanne provides high-level strategic insights for our clients and guidance for our research and creative departments. She regularly speaks at conferences around the country, including Sustainable Brands, Fortune Brainstorm E and the International Builders’ Show, and serves as a guest columnist for publications like Fast Company, Green Builder and

Susannah Enkema

VP Research & Insights

Susannah directs our research team and plays a key role in extracting the nuggets of information that pave the way for recommended marketing strategies and creative approaches. Susannah has nearly two decades of market research and strategy experience, including her role as president of SE Consulting, where she led the services for the likes of DIY Network and the makers of GORE-TEX®.

Laila Waggoner

VP Client Engagement

Laila leads our client engagement process, overseeing activities from both a strategic and a tactical level to ensure our work generates desired results – and clients’ satisfaction. She brings 25+ years of marketing leadership experience to her client relationships, with particular expertise in the homebuilding and remodeling industries as well as member-driven organizations, such as the Vinyl Siding Institute and Plastics Pipe Institute. Before joining Shelton Group, she led strategic marketing teams for Owens Corning’s insulation business.

Matt Brass

VP Creative

Matt steers the creative department in concepting, designing and producing campaigns. He ensures sound strategy and deep insights inform everything his team develops, and works closely with the accounts department to ensure copy and designs will meet our clients’ goals. As a designer and filmmaker himself, he’s also a principal contributor to all of Shelton’s in-house photography and videography work.

Courtnay Hamachek

VP Operations

Courtnay oversees our day-to-day operations to keep us running smoothly and support our growth. She establishes project management systems and processes to help our teams anticipate bottlenecks, prevent process issues, and keep projects on time and on target. Courtnay has built extensive experience over 25 years in all aspects of marketing, from account services and project management to design and production.

Mike Beamer

VP Business Development

Mike joined our team to help provide strategic vision and foster our agency’s growth by overseeing new business leads and managing agency marketing and website content. He arrived in Knoxville steeped in energy efficiency and renewables – he previously led client service for an agency division in Boston dedicated to marketing communications strategy and branding for B2B and B2C clients in that space.