Bouncing Back

By: Richard Berger

Once again, much of the talk leading up to this year’s Super Bowl was about the ads and the record billions spent dazzling TV’s biggest audience of the year. Despite our advice from last year, ad revenues spiked a new high, exceeding last year’s $15.5 billion, with each 30-second spot costing $5 million or an astounding $166,667 per second.

Personal preferences aside, most of the folks I watched with found the lineup less than extraordinary. We saw repeat performances from Spuds MacKenzie and Bud Light, Baby Legends for the NFL, and the return of GoDaddy and Turbo Tax. We also saw a few political pitches, subtly wrapped in the American dream. And as usual, there were plenty of celebrity cameos.

Unlike past Super Bowls, however, this year’s real story was the game itself. Even if you hate the Patriots and Tom Brady, you can’t deny that New England’s comeback from a 25-point deficit to win in the Big Game’s first ever overtime was epic. Nor can you ignore that the Atlanta Falcons subjected themselves to what may be the greatest choke and defeat in sports history (not to mention denying me victory in my office football pool).

Many wonder if the Falcons will recover from such trauma next season or if they will experience the same dramatic “hangover” as the Carolina Panthers did this past year. Perhaps Falcons owner Arthur Blank, who made his fortune at Home Depot, should have his staff look to corporate America for inspiration on rebounding, reinvention and recovery.

There’s plenty of reading material on what it takes to recover (everything from admitting your guilt and acknowledging defeat to joining forces in battle) and countless stories of reinvention. Just look at Martha Stewart, once the scapegoat for insider trading and now hanging with Snoop Dogg and hipper than ever. Even Volkswagen (whose actions we agree exemplify what NOT to do in our piece on the importance of trust in business) seems clearly on the road to recovery — exceeding Toyota in terms of global car sales this year.

The case studies on organizational recovery abound.  The take-away (and something I hope the Falcons act upon) is to stand up, pump up your ball, and get back out there. After all, as Thomas Edison once suggested, “Many of life’s failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up.”