As a typically parochial New Orleanian, I am engrossed by the scenic footage that runs prior to advertising breaks during nationally televised Saints games.
I like watching the panoramic views of the city, brass bands in Jackson Square, milling crowds on Bourbon Street, the serving line at Cafe du Monde and, of course, the requisite aerial shots of the Superdome.
Marketing execs tell us those images translate into millions of dollars of free advertising for the city.
But: Can we always believe what we are seeing?
Turns out, maybe not.
Two weeks ago, ESPN was caught recycling archival aerial footage during a game in Jacksonville; broadcast images failed to capture recent changes to the landscape around the city's stadium.
Worse – a major gaffe – occurred when the network at one point inadvertently substituted a panoramic scene of Charlotte, North Carolina's skyline rather than Jacksonville's!
This is what kids today might refer to as a serious WTF moment.
ESPN fessed up. They said they had no aircraft or staff on duty that Monday night and so pulled up file footage to to broadcast instead.
I bring this up because of the noteworthy changes to the aesthetics of the Superdome exterior; specifically, the delightful and whimsical light installation that has accompanied Mercedes Benz's new sponsorship deal with the Saints and the state of Louisiana.
Mercedes is shelling out major bucks to get their name and image out there on a national platform and if the networks are showing old footage, the company – and by extension, the city of New Orleans – are being robbed of invaluable – and paid for – publicity.
I think the new lights send a very positive, subliminal message that the city is bright, looking good, energetic, moving forward, a great place to visit, c'mon down, y'all!
ESPN comes back to town for the Saints Monday Night Football game against the Falcons on December 26.
Consider this pre-emptive notice that we will be watching. Please, ESPN, get it right.
It's not gonna do anyone any good if you show Houston's skyline during advertising breaks instead of ours.
Not that there's anything wrong with Houston.
There's a lot of money and emotional investment in this city's image right now.
I just want to make sure that what you see.....is what we got.