Feb. 25, 2019
On Sunday, February 3, 2019, the New England Patriots triumphed over the Los Angeles Rams in Super Bowl LIII, securing their sixth title. The game was long on defense and short on scoring, with the Patriots posting 13 points to the Rams’ 3. While coach Bill Belichick, quarterback Tom Brady, and the rest of the Pats emerged as victors, the APM Research Lab sought to learn whether host city Atlanta, Georgia, also “won”—by leaving a positive impression on Americans during its time in the national media spotlight. The Super Bowl is the most-watched live television event in the United States and generates significant media coverage from associated events preceding and following the game. Even those who are far from football fans often tune in to see commercials and the half-time show or experience it through social media feeds. As such, hosting the game at Atlanta’s Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta presented an unparalleled opportunity to showcase the city to those who live elsewhere, with potential tourism and other benefits accruing to the city long after the fourth quarter ended.
In the week following the Super Bowl, the APM Research Lab conducted the second annual National Survey of Super Bowl Impressions to assess whether Americans knew that Atlanta was the host city, and whether the event changed their impressions of Atlanta as a desirable place to visit. (Note that survey respondents living in Georgia have been excluded from all findings.)
Regardless whether they watched the Super Bowl live, more than 6 in 10 American adults knew that Atlanta (or Georgia) was the site of the big game.
As a result of Super Bowl LIII media coverage, 35 percent of Americans said they were “more likely” to think of Atlanta as good place to visit, compared to 28 percent who said “less likely.
As a result of Super Bowl coverage, more than one-third of Americans say they are “more likely” to think of Atlanta as good place to visit.
Question: “As a result of media coverage of the Super Bowl, are you more or less likely to think of Atlanta as a good place to visit?” *=Voluntary answer (other categories were offered to respondents). An additional 3% of respondents refused to answer.
Source: APM Research Lab’s National Survey of Super Bowl Impressions, conducted Feb. 5-10, 2019. Super Bowl LIII was held on Feb. 3, 2019.
Notes: Results from a representative national sample of 970 adults living in all states except Georgia.
Hosting the Super Bowl is an opportunity to raise a city’s national profile, with hopes of generating longer-term returns in the form of tourism, talent recruitment, and economic development. In the nine days leading up to the Super Bowl, Centennial Olympic Park in downtown Atlanta hosted free live concerts, games, activities, and celebrities as part of “Super Bowl LIVE.” Other Super Bowl-sponsored events also highlighted the city’s attributes, and Atlanta played host to hundreds of national and international broadcasters whose reportage greatly magnified the city’s visibility to those living far away. During the game itself, the announcers and performers made numerous references to Atlanta.
Given all of this, to what degree did the Super Bowl and the media whirlwind surrounding it actually alter the impressions of Atlanta among Americans? In the 2019 National Survey of Super Bowl Impressions, we asked a nationally representative sample of 970 American adults (18+) who live outside of Georgia three primary questions:
Can you tell me what city the Super Bowl was held in this year? If not, how about the state?
As a result of media coverage of the Super Bowl, are you more or less likely to think of Atlanta as a good place to visit?
What is the main reason you say that?
Americans’ knowledge of Atlanta as host city for Super Bowl LIII
Sixty-three percent of American adults could name where the game was played, including 60 percent who named Atlanta when asked about the city, and another three percent who failed to name the city but accurately identified Georgia as the state. About 1 in 10 Americans incorrectly named another city, and the remaining 26 percent said they did not know where the Super Bowl was held.
There is ample evidence that the Super Bowl doesn’t hold the same sway with younger Americans. Among those under age 35, some 34 percent expressed that they didn’t know where the game was held, and an additional 10 percent evidenced they did not by offering the wrong city. Only 54 percent Americans under age 35 were aware of the game’s location. However, roughly 65 percent among those age 35-44, 45-54, or 65+ knew the game’s location, as did 75 percent of Americans 55-64, the most of any age group.
Black (non-Hispanic) Americans were the most likely to have knowledge of Atlanta or Georgia as the host, with 79 percent giving the correct response. Sixty-five percent of White Americans knew where Super Bowl LIII was held, along with only 48 percent of Hispanic/Latinx Americans.
Americans with higher incomes were more likely to know the game’s location. Among those with annual incomes of $75,000 or more, roughly three-fourths answered Atlanta or Georgia. This proportion fell to about two-thirds among those with incomes between $25,000-$49,999, and $50,000-$74,999. Among Americans with incomes below $25,000 annually, about 4 in 10 knew the location.
Among those with a high school education, just 54 percent had knowledge of the game’s host. The likelihood of giving the correct response rose 10 percentage points among those with some college education, including two-year degrees (64%) and an additional 10 points among those with a four-year college degree or additional education (74%).
Males (67%) were more likely than females (59%) to know where Super Bowl LIII was played.
Did the Super Bowl change the general public’s impressions of Atlanta?
Overall, 35 percent of adults indicated that they were “more likely” to think of Atlanta as a good place to visit as a result of Super Bowl media coverage, compared to 28 percent who said “less likely.” Unprompted, 21 percent of respondents said media coverage does not make a difference in their impression of the city. An additional 13 percent said they didn’t know, and three percent refused to answer.
Non-Hispanic Black Americans were most likely to report improved impressions of the host city following Super Bowl LIII, with 55 percent saying they were more likely to think of Atlanta as a good place to visit. This is significantly higher than the share of White non-Hispanic Americans (31%) who said so.
Residents of the South region were most likely to say “more likely,” at 42 percent, compared to 36 percent in the North East, 32 in the North Central, and 27 percent in the West states. (See full report for regional definitions.)
There were no meaningful differences by age, gender, or education level among respondents saying they were “more likely” to consider Atlanta a desirable destination following Super Bowl media coverage.
Of those who were “more likely” to think of Atlanta as a good place to visit, 23 percent mentioned their own personal familiarity with the area, often through connections with family, friends, or work as reasons to see Atlanta as a desirable destination for visiting (again).
Because I went there before and I liked it, the city. I just stayed for a couple of days; I went around the town. You can’t do much if you don’t stay long.
Because I have family there and it’s a nice place.
Another 20 percent of the “more likely” group named attractions offered in Atlanta as motivating reasons to visit, such as:
It just has a deep musical history.
It has more attractions and more things to visit, like historical sites to see.
We like the aquarium. We like the food very well.
Another 13 percent gave generally favorable impressions naming the city’s cleanliness, weather, or friendly people, such as:
Atlanta is a safe place.
It’s a friendly town. Southern hospitality.
Because I live down south. I love it here, and I don't have to deal with that winter weather. I can't stand the cold; I can barely deal with the cold in Tennessee.
An equal share (13%) said non-specific favorable comments (e.g. “seems nice”).
Twelve percent of respondents mentioned something related to the Super Bowl media coverage that showed Atlanta in a positive light, such as:
Because of being able to handle such a big amount of people, the crowd. So I think they are doing it good; they can accommodate visitors in the area.
It looked pretty from the aerial shots. The downtown area looked pretty.
Considering the minority of respondents who were “less likely” to think of Atlanta as a good place to visit in the 2019 Super Bowl’s wake, 36 percent of this group who said “less likely” mentioned personal reasons, such as:
I say that because I’m just like less likely, even though all the advertisements.
Because I don’t have any money.
An additional 34 percent cited what they perceived were unfavorable characteristics of the city, such as traffic or a lack of interesting attractions to explain their response, such as:
It’s not a good thing to live there. Too much traffic and busy.
Because I did not see something that make me [want to] go to Atlanta.
Because it’s a hot concrete [city] and I don’t like [it] because too many people.
Three percent of the “less likely” group cited displeasure with Atlanta’s weather (e.g., “too hot”).
Finally, while not the point of the survey, a couple respondents couldn’t help but comment on the Super Bowl itself.
The Super Bowl was very boring this year.
[It’s] over-sensationalized and over-paid people. It’s a racket.