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Posted on 02/05/2020

8 Super Bowl LIV lessons for Marketing Pros [and 2020 trends that the mega-event has confirmed]

Last Sunday, February 2, the Super Bowl 54, NFL great final, took place. In addition to the clash between the two teams, we could see Miami, host city of this year’s final match, become a huge event in itself. Whether you are a sports fan or not, it’s time for you to know the importance of the Super Bowl for the event industry.

Miami Hard Rock Stadium being prepared for the great night.

Super Bowl: the backstage and the most valuable lessons of the mega-event .

More than 65,000 people made their way to the Super Bowl LIV, the big NFL title decision of 2019/2020 season, to see Kansas City Chiefs beat San Francisco 49ers for 31-20. The teams dueled at the Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens, 20 miles north of Miami , and millions of people around the world watched the match on television.

Anyone who wanted to follow the 2019/2020 Super Bowl final in Miami had to open their pockets and shell out a small fortune. The price of tickets for the match between the San Francisco 49ers and Kansas City Chiefs teams varied widely, depending on the company offering them and the location of the seat.


What is The Super Bowl?

The Super Bowl is the final of the NFL, football league. In 2020, it reaches its 54th edition and will be based in Miami, Florida. When talking about this event, one must understand much more than a match. We are talking about a show. So much so that, if we took into account the time of sports practice, the event lasts much longer than the 60 minutes predicted and the interval.


1. Objective number one: start on time and be prepared for anything.

That’s actual advice from Frank Supovitz, sporting events specialist with a an extensive career in the entertainment industry, including 10 years serving as Senior Vice President of Events for the NFL (2005-2009).

“Everybody loves talking about how smart they are. People don’t share their mistakes. But the truth is that you learn more form what’s gone wrong that what’s gone right.” Frank was in charge of the Super Bowl XLVII, on 2013, when a blackout took over the Mercedes-Benz Superdome, in New Orleans.

So, with his realistic approach of how to learn from mistakes, he gave his book “What to do when everything goes wrong” as a gift to the world.


2. Staff training and team building

There are between 10,000 – 20,000 staff members working on an event like that. Most of them are working at the event for the first time. It’s like managing a city. So, have a framework and train your staff. Make clear what kind of decision they can make without having to take it to their superiors, so managers can freely monitor the event with a bird’s eye, without worrying about details that can be handled by others.

Of course that bigger decisions such as those related to safety, punctuality and aspects that impact more people (live broadcast, for example), must be taken by the top decision makers. It is useful to understand where these boundaries are and create hierarchical levels for this company that will exist for just one day.


3. Firing up the sense of community and belonging

After 10 years, the Super Bowl came back to Miami. Of course people care about the game, but the week preceding the event saw day-long parties and brand activations that helped on building up the atmosphere.

Budweiser threw big party at the American Airlines Arena, with Maroon 5, Guns N’ Roses and Snoopy Dog as some of the stars. Sports Illustrated held a ball at the iconic Fontainebleau Miami Beach. Other major sponsors, such as Pepsi and At&T, invited artists like the Rolling Stones and Lady Gaga.

What matters is to engage people in amplifying the event. Secondary festivals for people who could not make it to the physical venue, such as fan-fests, can be almost as amazing as being in the stadium. In addition, post-event parties are great experiences to leave a mark in your customer’s brain. Or even better: turn this customer into a fan.

Stella Artois marketing activation during the Super Bowl LIV weekend.
A lucky group of friends stayed the night and woke up to the Super Bowl Sunday, in this Courtyard Marriott in-stadium suite replica, set up inside the Miami Hard Rock Stadium.

4. Contactless payments

Visa provided more than 800 contactless payment points at the Miami Hard Rock Stadium, where the Super Bowl 54 was held on Sunday. Fanscould shop in the shortest time and with the greatest security.

Contactless paycard used for food & beverage kiosks.

5. Amplifying with extravaganza

100 millions of people watching on TV and streaming. 170 millions of interactions on social media. 10 days of side experiences in the host city to increase the expectation and create atmosphere. This is what we call amplifying your event in scale.

Want to get your brand showed during the event? There’s an estimate that Fox charged an average of USD 5.5 million for a thirty second appearance.

It’s this kind of FOMO that feeds the audience with the feeling they need to see the event in person at least once in their lifetime.


6. The legendary Half Time Show

Some people say that Super Bowl is such an amazing festival, that they even have a football match happening inside it. And if you consider the magnitude of it, this statement is absolutely comprehensible.

This year, Shakira and Jennifer Lopez were the stars.


7. The first 5G Super Bowl ever.

Of course we’re speaking about an epic amount of tech, such as 8K cameras and screens everywhere, measurable statistics, incredible light and audiovisual effects, impeccable production, staging, fireworks, projection mapping, augmented reality etc. What’s the most impressive is that trends that have been predicted only a few months or even weeks ago, were all there. Some of these trends, as shown on this video by Euromonior International Research, were predicted for the next 15-20 years, but Super Bowl LIV already brought them to give us a glimpse into the future.

But mainly, what’s been absurdly remarkable was the first 5G Super Bowl in history. Some things that have been predicted to happen in some 15-20 years have already been shown. With download speeds that could reach up to 1GB per second, fans experienced unparalleled experience for ticketing, seating, food & beverage and a whole next generation in-stadium experience. What’s better is that this technology is staying at the Miami Hard Rock Stadium.


8. Keeping fans engaged for the next edition

Did you know that the NFL has an official Fan Engagement playbook? And the number one rule is: NFL must be available everywhere, all the time. As long a person has internet access, they should be able to get in touch with your brand, via free content. Keeping a fan base loyal is keeping them ready to be your clients.


Key takeways, in a nutshell

  • Create a yearly calendar of digital and in-person experiences to keep your audience waiting impatiently for the next edition. The 5G thing that we mentioned just before, for instance, was highly expected.
  • Make your brand available for interaction throughout the year, via free content.
  • Keep social media presence with innovations that involve your fans
  • Surprises, surprises, surprises… your audience expects a WOW moment.
  • Keep an eye on analog markets and brands looking out to establish strong relationships.
  • There is a natural latency left by the void that the end event of this magnitude causes. Take care of that keeping your customer wishes in the center of everything.

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