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Volume 21 No. 22
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Sponsors go deep to develop buzz-worthy activation

NFL corporate sponsors are once again attempting a near-impossible task: cutting through the barrage of marketing messages in a Super Bowl host city.

Visa’s downtown San Francisco headquarters will be lit up nightly with digital projections.
Photo by: VISA
Industry estimates of marketers’ assault on consumers range from 2,000 to 5,000 daily advertising messages. Whatever the real number, in a Super Bowl city, that’s doubled at a minimum. So what’s a marketer to do, especially one with pricey NFL rights?

“You can do crazy spending and trying to have an impact, but we believe it’s simpler than that,” said Chris Weil, CEO at Momentum Worldwide, which is directing NFL sponsor Verizon’s Super Bowl activation. “If you keep the consumer experience in mind and bring them closer to the game, the brand’s a hero.”

Verizon’s #Minute50 text-to-win sweeps offers a variety of Super Bowl prizes at 10 minutes before every hour, including Super Bowl tickets, phone accessories and bill discounts. Perhaps most intriguingly, it shows a shift in strategy, since for the first time the promo is restricted to Verizon customers.

“We’re happy to help anyone to change over to our network,” said Kristin Rooney, Verizon director of sports and entertainment marketing and sponsorships, “but this is a way to reward customer loyalty and leverage our NFL relationship with them.”

Verizon is also underwriting an “Access Zone” in the Super Bowl City fan fest, of which it is presenting sponsor. Messaging will support its “better matters” network campaign, along with its Go90 mobile video network.

Aside from its usual plethora of Super Bowl ads, split among three brands for the first time, Anheuser-Busch InBev will put a blue face on Union Square, a tie-in to the new all-blue packaging scheme for Bud Light and a new tag line, “Raise One to Right Now.”

A-B’s weekend long Union Square “occupation” will include a beer garden with celebrity chefs demonstrating their culinary skills. The Bud Light Hotel is returning, with this year’s hostelry makeover involving the Clift Hotel. A-B will also stage a private event at Alcatraz on Friday night and a concert at Ruby Skye on Saturday.

“The [Bud Light] hotel has become an established part of the Super Bowl and you can see across NFL sponsors that for the 50th, major partners have supported it in a big way,” said Ed Horne, consulting chief at WME-IMG, which is also supporting the Super Bowl efforts of Marriott, Microsoft, USAA and Visa.

Bose will have a custom mobile marketing unit at the NFL Experience.
Photo by: BOSE
Halftime show sponsor Pepsi will again name its Rookie of the Year winner during Super Bowl week. It’s also teaming with DirecTV for a concert on Friday night with Pharrell as headliner.

“There is so much great marketing and marketers in a Super Bowl week, if you’re not focused you will get lost,” said Adam Harter, vice president of consumer engagement at Pepsi. “The other thing we’ve learned is the consumers are changing so fast, we have to be more digitally focused every Super Bowl.”

To support that metamorphosis and take advantage of the ubiquitous second screen, Pepsi will auction off many of the items used in the halftime show. There’s also a digital miniseries, “The Halftime Show,” on Pepsi.com.

Marriott, now in its fifth season as an NFL corporate patron, will wrap an impressive year with two contests with intriguing payouts: One offered the winner the ability to take 50 friends and family to the Super Bowl, while the other winner plus three guests get to spend the night before the Super Bowl in a Levi’s Stadium suite converted into a faux Courtyard by Marriott room.

The 50 to 50 Sweeps attracted 250,000 eligible entries, while the other contest buzzed up 53.8 million social media impressions. Local Courtyards have been decked out in Super Bowl regalia.

“We wanted a conversation that ran all year, and we feel like these two never-before-seen experiences have done that,” said Callette Nielsen, vice president and global brand manager for Marriott Courtyard.

Bose will have a custom mobile marketing unit at the NFL Experience, offering fans the ability to hear the 50 greatest sounds of the NFL and sample coaches’ headsets, said Mike Mangione, director of consumer marketing.

Visa’s downtown headquarters at One Market Plaza will be lit up with digital projections nightly, and it will be pushing Samsung Pay at the NFL Experience merchandise store, offering consumers a $5 coupon as an incentive to try the demo.