Nearly two weeks have passed since Minneapolis opened its door to the nation’s biggest game, the Super Bowl. Overall, reports were favorable of the hospitality and organization of the 10 days of events leading up to the game. Tip of the cap to Maureen Bosch and the Super Bowl Host Committee for putting on a great show and shedding a good light on the Twin Cities.
The Twin Cities weren’t the only entity looking to make a big impression. Many corporate sponsors, including Minnesota-based companies, spent big on activations across town with the hopes of building brand recognition and winning market share, along with many other goals. While there was buzz within the sports industry about the limitations of activating in a cold weather environment, sponsors were creative in building meaningful activations that embraced the “Bold North” moniker established by the host committee. And, as I have written previously, there are plenty of ways for brands to create activities and sponsorships that connect with people. Here are some of the activations from the Super Bowl that played well in the Bold North and made an impact.
National and Local Sponsors Warm Up to the Cold
Super Bowl Live on Nicollet was the hub of activation for corporate sponsors and visitors alike. With parking rates significantly hiked, ride sharing apps were the best route to and from the event. Following a similar activation to Super Bowl 50 in San Francisco, Uber created a branded pick-up lot and lounge. Visitors leaving Super Bowl Live had the opportunity to escape the cold, charge their phones, relax and grab a snack before being picked up. My Uber ended up taking longer, so it was nice to warm up during the wait.
Tostitos created a small indoor cantina at Super Bowl Live, where they offered free samples of their latest products. There wasn’t anything out of the ordinary with this activation, but it allowed visitors to get inside, warm up and try the new Tostitos chips. Their proIduct aligns well with the football crowd, so overall, this was a good activation. Sometimes, simplicity is king.
I recently wrote about virtual reality finding use in health care; the use extends to sponsorship activations. Be The Match (client) created an interactive zone that included a VR-based swabbing game that replicated the process of submitting DNA to the registry. This activity was mission-based for the nonprofit and left a great memory for fans that participated. Did I mention the activation was in a heated tent (are you sensing a theme)?
U.S. Bank Has Its Day
In 2015, when U.S. Bank announced a naming rights deal for the new Minnesota Vikings’ stadium, the decision was made knowing that a Super Bowl was on the horizon. To ensure this remained the case, U.S. Bank CEO, Richard Davis, was appointed chair of the Host Committee and presented to the NFL owners to plead Minneapolis’ case. Marketing planning started the day after the host city announcement to leverage a unique opportunity for a brand that has not been prevalent in national sports sponsorship activation. U.S. Bank created the “Possibilities Lounge” to showcase innovation in payment methods like wearable technology. The activation included a photo booth to record your best touchdown celebration – each dance recorded accounted for a donation to local nonprofits.
Having your name on the stadium provides key brand exposure, especially in front of a TV audience of 103.4 million. To best leverage all of the brand mentions from the stadium name, U.S. Bank purchased a national ad spot during the game and regional ads during the pregame. Every time I checked Twitter or Facebook, there seemed to be a sponsored U.S. Bank post. How does this equate to conversions for U.S. Bank? That is tough to measure, but U.S. Bank did a good job of growing brand exposure on a national scale.
Agencies of all kinds proved that it is possible to build creative and connective activations, despite the weather. In the end, Minnesota hosted a hospitable and well-organized Super Bowl that stayed true to its personality. Hopefully this showing will secure other large events in the future.
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