SBJ/June 10-16, 2013/People and Pop Culture

Bob Bangham, co-founder and creative director, RipBang Studios

Bob Bangham is creative director and co-founder of RipBang Studios, a 13-year-old Los Angeles firm specializing in designing branded destinations at sports facilities. Before RipBang, Bangham spent time with NBBJ (during the Staples Center development) and with Rockwell Group in New York, as well as Gensler, where he did work for Disney theme parks.
— Compiled by Don Muret

Photo by: ROWENA MACARAEG / RIPBANG STUDIOS

All the big architects are starting to recognize it and develop divisions that do what we do. ... All the advertising agencies are developing experiential wings as well because they want to get into an area that they previously overlooked.



A mix of clients:
We’re 70 percent working with teams and 30 percent working with brands. Because we also work with brands in the non-sports environment, we serve as a go-between that can communicate between brands, advertising companies and the teams, because we speak both languages.

Directing brands: Most brands find activation in an experiential context is one of the most cost-effective ways to tell their story. In the sports world, we’ve seen less about “NASCAR signs everywhere” and more about providing real exclusivity for brands in a way that isn’t tacky and is seen as a benefit.

What brands should remember: We’ve had many experiences where brands think they’re more important than the team, [that] they’re the reason people come to the facility. We try to educate them that what you really want to do is to demonstrate the brand is also a fan of the team by providing an amenity that makes the game experience better. Then they’re willing to listen to and accept whatever message.

Building premium amenities: In the early part of my career, I designed the pirate village at Treasure Island Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas and worked a lot in Las Vegas casino design with Steve Wynn. His mantra was “Exceed expectations.” The easiest way to do that in a sports facility is to make the game experience a little bit better for those folks who weren’t expecting it.
 
Examples?: The O3 Bar and upper-deck fan zone at Amway Center is a great example. That’s an entertainment environment, a premium-type product for folks who [typically] never get it. The Great Hall [at Pittsburgh’s Heinz Field] too. … If you are a fan of the team, you are a member of the club. That’s the way we approach everything. As a member of the club, you get a little bit more access than the folks just watching it on TV.
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