Super Bowl XLVII power outage didn’t darken New Orleans’ reputation

Civic research study shows New Orleans seen more favorably after the big game, but it’s not always the case.  Photo: Super Bowl XLVII Blackout / AP Photo Gerald Herbert

SAN DIEGO, March 6, 2013 – The economic impact of hosting a Super Bowl as the main gauge of its benefits to a city has increasingly come under scrutiny. The New Orleans Super Bowl Host Committee projected 2013’s Super Bowl XLVII would result in $434 million in local spending. Economists who dispute what factors such studies should include counter the true figure is about a tenth of this when overhead expenses and diverted spending from tourists who would have otherwise visited are factored in.

Another significant benefit cited as a reason to bring the Super Bowl to a community is the positive impact national and international media exposure has on a region’s image. The New Orleans Tourism Marketing Corporation attempted to measure it by counting the number of positive media stories, tallying how many people read the print and online media accounts, and how much it would cost to buy the same amount of space reaching the same audience, a form of measurement known as “advertising value equivalents” or AVEs.

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As quoted in a story published by the New Orleans Times-Picayune, tourism officials calculated that “upbeat” stories about New Orleans during the weeks around the game reached individuals 69.5.million times. The study calculates that it would have cost $6 million to buy the same amount of advertising. Broadcast media was not counted.

As a form of measurement, AVEs are far from universally accepted. Although they can make clients feel good, public relations professionals consider AVEs a crude, outdated way to measure message effectiveness, especially as audiences have become more sophisticated in judging advertising and since social media has created higher expectations for two-way conversations with consumers.

Is there a better way to determine the outcome of positive exposure? Yes. John Nienstedt, president of research firm Competitive Edge Research & Communication in San Diego, conducts an annual Super Bowl study as part of CERC’s ongoing civic research. 

Competitive Edge’s professional interviewers conduct pre-game and post-game surveys using random digit dial sampling with a total sample size of approximately 1,000 English-speaking adult U.S. residents. Survey results following the Super Bowl are compared to those from before the game to measure how the game influences the nation’s impression of the host city. The margin of sampling error for each survey is +/4.4%.

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Viewing the 2013 Super Bowl Infographic: Courtesy Competitive Edge Research & Communication.

Nienstedt says his survey research shows that despite the 34-minute power outage, New Orleans scored big in the eyes of Americans as the host of Super Bowl XLVII. CERC’s study of the Super Bowl’s effect on the Crescent City shows that it gained a higher profile and its image improved substantially.

Prior to the game only 48 percent of Americans had any opinion - whether good or bad - of New Orleans. It climbed to 58 percent afterwards. More importantly, all of that increased visibility was favorable. One-third of Americans had positive impressions of the city before the Super Bowl; it reached 42 percent after the game.

Nienstedt said, “New Orleans was mentioned 21 times during the broadcast, which is quite a lot as Super Bowls go, and none of the chatter was negative.” Nienstedt believes the city overcame any outage-related stigma because CBS announcers Jim Nantz and Phil Simms never blamed the problem on the Superdome or the city.

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Infographic: Courtesy Competitive Edge Research & Communication.

CERC’s survey shows that it was clearly TV viewing of the Super Bowl that pushed New Orleans higher.

Opinions among those who did not watch the Super Bowl did not move significantly. It was a different story among viewers, as very positive impressions rose six percent and moderately positive impressions rose another three percent among them.

But these results don’t occur every year. The infographic shows this was only the third time since 2003 that the Super Bowl has improved impressions of the host city, and New Orleans benefitted the most. 

The big game has twice had a detrimental effect on the host due to snowstorms and rainstorms, factors completely out of a host city’s control. 

Infographic: Courtesy Competitive Edge Research & Communication.

This year, impressions of New Orleans improved significantly for women and among those in the South and West.  However, the most striking rise in opinions came from Americans under the age of 35. Post-Super Bowl, 25 percent more 18 to 34 year olds now have favorable impressions of New Orleans.

So is it worth investing hundreds of millions of dollars and tens of thousands of hours of planning to bring a Super Bowl to a city? The debate will rage on.

Founded in 1987, Competitive Edge Research & Communication (CERC) is a national public opinion research firm specializing in civic, political and public affairs polling. The website is 

Gayle Lynn Falkenthal, APR, is President/Owner of the Falcon Valley Group in San Diego, California. She is also a serious boxing fan covering the Sweet Science for Communities. Read more Media Migraine in the Communities at The Washington Times. Follow Gayle on Facebook and on Twitter @PRProSanDiego. Gayle can be reached via Google +

Please credit “Gayle Falkenthal for Communities at” when quoting from or linking to this story.    


Copyright © 2013 by Falcon Valley Group

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Gayle Falkenthal

Gayle Lynn Falkenthal, MS, APR, is President of the Falcon Valley Group, a San Diego based communications consulting firm. Falkenthal is a veteran award winning broadcast and print journalist, editor, producer, talk host and commentator. She is an instructor at National University in San Diego, and previously taught in the School of Journalism & Media Studies at San Diego State University.


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