Super Bowl Tickets for Five: Acceptable Gift or Possible Bribe?

By Young, Joyce A.; Clark, Paul W. | Journal of Critical Incidents, Annual 2017 | Go to article overview

Super Bowl Tickets for Five: Acceptable Gift or Possible Bribe?


Young, Joyce A., Clark, Paul W., Journal of Critical Incidents


Introduction

Scott Wise, owner of a chain of eight Scotty's Brewhouse restaurants in the Indianapolis metro area, struggled over an important decision. A Pepsi representative had approached him with an attractive financial proposition: a five-year contract that entailed selling Pepsi products exclusively while offering its products at a cost ten percent less than he had been paying for rival Coca- Cola products. Pepsi MAX was the official soft drink of the National Football League, and in just a few short weeks, Indianapolis would serve as the host city for Super Bowl XLVI. Although Wise was impressed with the contractual terms, he had yet to sign the document. After reviewing the contract for the final time, he thought he might ask the Pepsi representative for one final concession, game tickets to the Super Bowl for himself and four other individuals. Should Wise request and insist on the tickets in return for signing the contract? Are there ethical implications of such a request for both himself and Pepsi?

Preparing for the Super Bowl

Scott Wise and his staff had spent the last five months preparing for Super Bowl XLVI. In just four weeks, the city would host the game. He was excited about the immediate impact on his restaurant chain, anticipating the game would result in one of the biggest weeks of business ever for his downtown location and strong game day sales for his other seven locations as well (Swiateck, 2012c). However, he was also eagerly thinking long-term. He hoped people would approach him with interest in opening future restaurant locations in other cities (Swiatek, 2012b).

Wise also viewed Super Bowl XLVI as a vehicle to grow the catering side of his business. A promotional flyer describing catering offerings would be inserted in all menus during Super Bowl week (Swiatek, 2012b). He believed in his marketing strategy. In preparation for the Super Bowl crowds, Wise and his staff had secured thousands of dollars in extra tableware, purchased three additional microwave ovens, and hired additional servers, kitchen staff, and security. In addition, Wise leased numerous parking spots and a large tent that would expand customer capacity by 60 percent at the downtown location (Swiatek, 2012b). Additional expenses for the downtown location alone were estimated at $65,000 (Swiatek, 2012c).

As one of the largest restaurants in downtown and a mere block from the Super Bowl Village, Scotty's Brewhouse was quickly becoming a popular entertainment venue for the week (Swiatek, 2012c). Wise lined up several national sports media personalities to broadcast from the location. The Nick & Artie Show, a national sports radio show, signed on to broadcast throughout the week, and Sports Illustrated senior writer Peter King agreed to do a tweet-up and live Question and Answer session (Swiatek, 2012b). Producers of Late Night with Jimmy Fallon considered Scotty's as a possible location from which to broadcast the television comedy talk show (Swiatek, 2012a). Although Late Night producers eventually selected an alternative location, Fallon did ask an audience member where she would watch Super Bowl XLVI. Her nationally televised response was met with wild cheers as she replied "Scotty's Brewhouse" (Swiatek, 2012c).

The growing popularity of Scotty's Brewhouse in the metro area was not lost on marketing executives from the Pepsi Beverage Corporation. Since its founding 15 years ago, all Scotty's locations had served Coca-Cola products exclusively (Hunsinger, 2012). Pepsi MAX was the official soft drink of the National Football League (Lukovitz, 2012), and in the months running up to Super Bowl XLVI, Pepsi had mobilized to poach restaurant accounts and grow its share of fountain business in Central Indiana in preparation for the big game.

Coca-Cola was the dominant brand in the soda fountain business. The company controlled approximately 70 percent of U.S. retail locations where soda was served on tap (Raskin, 2013). …

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