Tom Green usually roots for the underdog -- because for him, it makes good business sense. "That's an underserved market," he explains. "Ideally, we would have a fresh market every year."
Green's company, Action Images, is the exclusive publisher of the Super Bowl's program cover images and the art that appears on each year's ticket, known as "Theme Art" and "SuperTickets," respectively. Action Images pays royalties to the NFL, which provides the images, and they supply retailers across the country, from grocery stores to poster shops, with prints. While the Theme Art images are popular in three places -- the two teams' hometowns and that year's venue -- the rest of the country is more interested in the SuperTickets posters, which display the tickets from every Super Bowl ever played.
"You can almost trace the history of American artwork, from psychedelic, to electronic, and so on," Green says.
The Super Bowl is the biggest party of the year, and Sherri Foxman's Party411 will supply you with any decorations, invitations, or favors you could possibly need for a football-themed blow-out.
Foxman, who came to e-commerce through her career as an events planner, continues to suggest off-the-wall events, posting party-planning guides on Party411 under the moniker "The Party Girl." And January is one of their biggest months of the year -- orders start in December and continue right up until the week of the Super Bowl. Her custom-made invitations designed to mimic tickets are especially popular, and her party guide also points the way to items like an inflatable cooler topped with a goalpost and a tray shaped like a referee's shirt.
"It’s really the biggest party of the year, and people just don’t even realize that," she says.
Last year, the National Retail Federation reported that Americans bought an estimated 3.9 million televisions in anticipation of the Super Bowl. But with frugality setting in among consumers, many will consider an alternative: rentals.
Chicago-based firm Meeting Tomorrow offers short-term audio and visual equipment rentals for corporate events. But thanks to constant calls every year about Super Bowl offerings, the company created a specific package for the big game and began to advertise it on their website. CEO Mark Aistrop was initially reluctant to market directly to football fans, because of their focus on corporate clients, but the decision has brought in a wave of business at a slow time for corporate events.
"While I wasn't quick to embrace it, once we did it, it had a very big impact on our business," says Aistrop.
People making the trip to the Super Bowl want a special souvenir, available only in the host city. But in order to get official NFL goodies -- hats, T-shirts, footballs -- they'll have to go to one of five licensed "hot market" concessionaires who've set up shop in the area. One of those NFL-certified vendors is Holsen, which will have a retail location open in Tampa’'s historic Ybor City neighborhood this year.
CEO Darryl Holsendolph has been working with the NFL since 1992 and has several Super Bowls under his belt. While hot market sales only account for around 30 percent of their business, he gets frequent referrals thanks to his work with the NFL, and he often builds relationships with potential clients for Holsen's promotional merchandising at the big game.
"You're not going to get rich, but it's an opportunity to grow your business," Holsendolph says. "It shows we can deliver in a demanding environment."
Icon Security Solutions wants to save their clients unnecessary hassles. So if you've booked the firm for personal protection services during the Super Bowl, don't worry about calling for a limo -- they'll take care of it.
President Kevin White, the former director of corporate security for Rooms to Go, decided a year ago to strike out on his own and founded Icon. The firm specializes in executive protection. So far, they've worked with several corporate clients, an entertainer, and a couple of athletes.
White says Tampa, host of Super Bowl XLIII, is seeing an influx of business as excitement for the Super Bowl begins to build. "I think it's a definite opportunity to attract new clients, but it also gives me a great deal of exposure, and it's an economic shot in the arm in these tough times," he says.
Guests at the NFL's official Super Bowl tailgate will get their pick of three tropical, Florida-themed cakes for dessert: HoneyBell Orange, Key Lime, and Jamaican Rum, all supplied by Sarasota-based small business Floribbean Flo's Tropical Bakery.
Nancy Renko launched Floribbean Flo's as an online gift-basket company a decade ago. When she opened a retail location, she added the Tropical Bakery to draw walk-in traffic. But the bakery's cakes and cookies have sold well on the Internet, and she and her husband Jim, also involved in Flo's daily operations, are excited about the tailgate as a chance to growth their business.
"It's going to give us national exposure," Jim Renko says. "There are 11,000 people anticipated at the tailgate, so it's a fantastic opportunity, and we're getting paid to do it."
The NFL seal of approval has already boosted their business. While the recession drained away their corporate holiday clients, bakery sales have increased so dramatically they expect to finish even with last year, while many of their competitors have gone under.
Bored with your typical business meetings? Captain Paul Warren has a way for you to spice things up: move the proceedings to a yacht cruising Tampa Bay.
Warren is a 40-year veteran of the recreational marine industry who found himself with an extra boat on his hands. His wife, who sold videoconference equipment, was spending several days every month in Miami for work, and they bought the boat intending to use it as a floating condo. When she was laid-off, they combined their particular skills and launched Meetings Afloat.
The Super Bowl offers a great opportunity for a cash infusion to a start-up like Meetings Afloat, which is marketing packages to clients in town for the game. "The concept would be if somebody wanted to take the team's own sponsors, radio and TV sponsors, out for entertainment," Warren says.
Going to the Super Bowl isn't as simple as buying a ticket. Thousands of visitors flood the host city every year, booking hotels, renting cars and filling pre-game parties. The logistics of planning a trip to the big game can seem overwhelming.
But for a price, PrimeSport, a subsidiary of ticket vendor RazorGator, will happily arrange all that for you. Every year, the company goes into the host city, reserves hotel rooms, scouts sites for their pre-game bash, and interviews local vendors.
"It's a complicated business, and it requires a lot of people and logistics," says CEO Jeff Lapin.
--Kelly Faircloth, Andrew Leigh, and Venuri Siriwardane