Social Impact Theme Dominates at SBLIII Atlanta
Industry News, Philanthropy, Professional Athletes, Sports Leagues

Social Impact Theme Dominates at SBLIII Atlanta

It’s time again for another Super Bowl weekend. As it does every year, the big game brings in brands looking to capitalize on the eyeballs. And boy are there a lot of eyeballs already. According to SRI Insights and Front Office Sports, there have been over 150,000 Super Bowl tweets and retweets that mention Atlanta since January 1st!

But another theme has stood out as we prepare for the big game- social impact. From the stadium itself to the brand partnerships and activations that have been taking place during Super Bowl Week, one thing is for sure- this year’s Super Bowl aims to make an impact off the field.

Last year, SBLII brought Minnesota an estimated $450 million in new spending. Atlanta is prepping for a similar economic boost of $400+ million. But leaders like Atlanta Falcons owner Arthur Blank are taking concrete steps to make sure that the impact is going to the right places. Sports Business Daily writer Dan Kaplan sat down with Blank to talk more about the economic impact of the big game.

Arthur Blank’s Community Vision

Atlanta’s new Mercedes-Benz Stadium opened in August 2017 near a struggling Westside Atlanta- also known as the home of the Civil Rights Movement and Martin Luther King, Jr.

Blank had the opportunity to move the new stadium out to the suburbs as many owners do, but he had a different idea. He used the stadium as a tool to boost the local economy for Westside Atlanta. He personally has donated $40 million to jobs programs, parks, homes for police officers and much more. On top of that, he required all the founding partners and sponsors of Mercedes-Benz Stadium to also invest in Westside- which added up to $25 million. That’s a $65 million economic impact from the stadium alone. Per Kaplan, about 700 Westside residents also work in operations at the stadium.

There’s still a lot of work to be done, but Kaplan notes that there has been a 43% drop in crime in the area and educational scores are going higher. But the biggest sign of progress, per a rep of the Arthur M. Blank Family Foundation, is that one of the bigger fears of residents is now gentrification (which, of course, is a problem facing many formerly low-income communities).

Blank told Kaplan he is proud of the diversity and history of the Civil Rights Movement the city has and he wants to show it off, not overshadow it. With the biggest game of the year in his backyard and more than 1 million visitors coming in town, it seems only fitting that there are so many activations with a social impact tie in.

How do we grow the social impact of events like the Super Bowl?

Sports philanthropy has inched closer and closer to the norm as sustainability and social impact have entered the business world’s lexicon. For those of us that work in this space, it’s rewarding to see big brands, leagues and athletes on the world’s stage tie in some kind of impact to their activations.

While the mere trend of social impact in sports is a positive sign, there is a lot more work to be done. The field of sport for development and grassroots organizations seem largely absent from the Super Bowl festivities. We’d love to see a Super Bowl Week go deeper than partnership activations or fundraisers and start creating more sustainable programs (like Taste of the NFL or Rebuilding Together) that involve using sport as a catalyst for change. For example, the NFL could engage more current and former players in town for the week’s festivities get involved in the local community and create sustainable initiatives of their own.

But it’s not just the responsibility of the big brands, players, teams and leagues like the NFL to make this happen. Local grassroots organizations can take advantage of the Super Bowl being in their city through small scale events. Something as simple as hosting an event for your donors and supporters during Super Bowl Week, or a watch party for the game, is a great way to engage your donors and supporters to be a part of the festivities without having to partner with large brands. It’s also important to engage your board members and supporters who will be attending various Super Bowl Week events to ensure they are promoting your organization in the best light.

Super Bowl 53 Partnership Activations with a Community Impact

Here are some of our favorite social impact partnerships for Super Bowl 53. Have a favorite we missed? Let us know in the comments.

Super Bowl Halftime Performers Donate in Partnership with the NFL

The music world has had some controversy swirling around the Super Bowl halftime show, with celebrities like Rihanna, Jay-Z, Cardi B and more refusing to perform while Kaepernick remains unsigned (likely because of his sideline social justice protests). When Travis Scott signed on to perform with Maroon 5, he required the NFL to partner with him and donate $500,000 to Dream Corps, a social justice accelerator headed by Van Jones that works towards prison reform. Maroon 5 followed suit weeks later with their own $500,000 donation to Big Brothers Big Sisters of America.

Stella Artois and Bring Back Carrie Bradshaw and “The Dude”

Stella Artois and have partnered on their “Pour It Forward” Campaign that will provide anywhere between 1-12 months of clean water to someone in an underdeveloped country depending on how many Stella Artois packs are purchased. During the big game, Stella Artois has paid for an ad starring Sarah Jessica Parker and Jeff Bridges where they will bring back their iconic characters, Carrie Bradshaw and The Dude, to raise awareness for the campaign.

Taste of the NFL is Back with their annual Party with a Purpose Event

The Taste of the NFL hosts an annual “Party with a Purpose” event that raises money for hunger relief and awareness in the Super Bowl Host city. They partner locally renowned chefs with former and current NFL player hosts. They also have a Kick Hunger Challenge for those who can’t attend the event to fight hunger in their local communities.

Skittles Takes Super Bowl to Broadway

Skittles has taken an unconventional approach to Super Bowl marketing campaigns. Instead of airing an ad spot during the game, they produced a Broadway musical out of it. The tickets will range from $30-205 apiece and sales will benefit Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS, a nonprofit that awards grants to help people receive life-saving medications and healthcare. Skittle has pledge to match the donation from ticket sales.

Legends for Charity Honors Bill Cowher and Donates to St. Jude

The annual Legends for Charity dinner awarded the Pat Summerall Award to Bill Cowher this year at a dinner on January 31st during Super Bowl Week. The dinner benefits St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital and has raised more than $6 million in 14 years.

NFL Environmental Program Returns to Atlanta

The NFL Environmental Program started in Atlanta when they hosted the Super Bowl 25 years ago, with recycling bins around the Georgia Dome. Now, the program is in full swing, with many different initiatives to offset waste in a sustainable way. A typical NFL game produces around 35 tons of waste, 1.5 pounds per fan, but the Super Bowl can boost that by 50%. Today, 90 nonprofits are enlisted to reuse everything from carpets to leftover foods.

VR Experience Teaches Young People Decision Making

United Way, Futurus and Georgia State University’s Creative Media Industries Institute launched a VR experience during Super Bowl this year that uses curriculum from the NFL’s Character Playbook to teach young people about decision making. The VR experience, appropriately named “Call the Play”, puts young players in scenarios where they have to make difficult decisions in challenging social situations like bullying.

Natty Light Pledges to Give Away $10 Million Towards College Debt

The adult beverage popular at many college campuses has pledged to donate $10 million over the next 10 years to help pay down student loans. The brand will air an ad raising awareness about the college debt crisis in America and plans to give out $53,000 to 151 fans (estimated to cover one month’s student loan payment) during Sunday’s game.

Verizon Ad Thanks First Responders

Verizon’s ad during Sunday’s game will honor first responders. The ad will showcase the stories of 12 NFL players that were rescued by first responders in their “The Team That Wouldn’t Be Here” campaign.

The Legends Party Supports The Team Type 1 Foundation

The Legends Party is being labeled as one of the biggest parties in Atlanta this Super Bowl Week. The party host Global Sports Management has partnered with The Team Type 1 Foundation to help them raise funds and spread awareness about Type 1 diabetes. The foundation educates and promotes wellness among those with Type 1 diabetes and provides athletic scholarships and global outreach. A portion of the proceeds raised from the event will go towards the foundation’s efforts.

Former Atlanta Falcon Hosts Super Bowl Inclusion Party

Now openly gay NFL alum, Esera Tuaolo hosted a Super Bowl Inclusion Panel and Party on January 29th during #SBLIII week in Atlanta. The focus of the event was to raise awareness and support for LGBTQ Institute at the Center for Civil & Human Rights. Funds raised from the event will be directed towards anti-bullying efforts in Georgia.Tuaolo has his own nonprofit, Hate is Wrong, and hopes to show the power that sport has to advance equity.

The NFL and Rebuilding Together Atlanta Host 24th Annual Kickoff to Rebuild Event

Rebuilding Together is a nonprofit dedicated to repairing homes and redeveloping communities across the country. Rebuilding Together Atlanta and the NFL will be addressing health and safety issues in Atlanta’s Just Us neighborhood, the smallest neighborhood in the city that was developed in the 1950s for African-American residents during the Civil Rights Era. The partnership has repaired 140 homes and invested more than $5 million in communities of different Super Bowl cities in their 24 years.

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