Bad Girl, Good Business

Will You Be BIRGing tonight? (and why sports fans are like pigeons)

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Yes…it’s Super Bowl 50. The viewership will be an estimated 189 million. 

So, who’s watching and why?

  • First, you have people like me — the ad dudes (and dudettes).  I grew up sitting in the freezing  stands at Shea Stadium with my dad and brothers, watching  Emerson Boozer and Matt Snell and secretly lusting after Broadway Joe and his sideburns (Ick! Forgive me…at the time he was considered hot). I still love watching football when New York teams are playing, but now I watch the Super Bowl largely for the commercials (because I’m in “the biz” and to be able to join in the Monday morning office chatter). People like me are Cheerleaderchallenged when we get invited to Super Bowl parties because we need to make sure that total silence ensues when the ads come on. Die-hard sports fans just don’t get it.
  • Then, you have the sports party people. They welcome any excuse for socialization and eating chips, dips, and wings. The average American will eat more about 6,000 calories during the game and would need to run a marathon — 26 miles — to burn them off. But people crave community and common experiences. Traditions are important to most of us, so watching the big game with friends and family becomes a shared bonding ritual. The year the lights went out, I watched the Super Bowl with friends who were both sports fans AND ad fans. We were able to share that great Oreo Twitter moment — a brilliant move for the brand at the time. It was clearly one of those rare moments when a client actually listened to an agency’s recommendation and moved quickly.
  • Whichever one of the first two groups you fall into (or another group completely), psychologists believe in a phenomenon called BIRG, or basking in reflected glory. It makes sense. We all like to be part of the winning team. BIRGers are the folks who wear jerseys, paint their faces, and wear bumper stickers on their cars that say things like, “My child is an honors student.” It’s not a disease. It’s a natural human phenomenon. It even has its own Wiki page. In business and on our couches on Sunday night, we all BIRG from time to time. When our team loses, we CORF (cut-off reflected failure) and distance ourselves from the losing team. (e.g., “I knew that product launch was going to fail…I even said something early on. I don’t know why we even did it!”) Speaking of sports (and life) psychology, some people develop very specific sports superstitions and rituals. Skinner even did a study with pigeons, explaining that behavior (see below).

So whatever you’re doing tonight, go easy on those Doritos and try not to be too much of a CORFer. And be sure to join in the social media chatter tomorrow about the best and worst ads. (I’m part of that rare advertising breed that has NOT watched all the ads in advance. Life should contain some surprises beyond the game score!)

Touch down on these links…

BGGB.OkeyDokey-fred Sports superstitions and the pigeons.
BGGB_ShakingHands The best pass/rush duos in Super Bowl history (and more).
BGGB_Thumbs-Down-fred More people will watch the Super Bowl than will vote in the Presidential election. 
BGGB_Pointer Sure is a lot of wings!





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