Why Event Planners Should Take Inspiration from the Super Bowl

Why Event Planners Should Take Inspiration from the Super Bowl

Can you imagine what it takes to put on one of the world’s biggest sporting events – the American football championship game? You know the one. It has so much going on, and there’s so much ground to cover. There’s the splashy halftime show, and of course, the advertising. What about the impact on the city in which it is held? And how about the game itself? The spectacle, the fans, the players and the coaches. Whew! Talk about needing a PhD in planning.


With over 100 million* viewers tuning in worldwide, there’s enormous pressure to create a memorable, once-in-a-lifetime experience every year. Sound familiar? As event marketers, you are in the same line of fire from your stakeholders.


It would be easy enough to just huddle up and watch football but several sideline events are scheduled in addition to getting that ball over the goal line. The NFL Experience is a 10-day experiential marketing extravaganza that takes over an entire common city area to showcase immersive exhibits, interactive games, autograph sessions, shopping and more. There are concerts, parties, contests and dozens more opportunities to attract the attention of those valuable football enthusiasts. Every brand and vendor has a stake in marketing the game.


Just take a moment to consider the epic amount of technology that goes into an event like this. Cameras flying down the field. Incredible light displays. Screens, soundboards, staging, mics, video, electric, audio and so much more. Every year it gets bigger and more complex, and this year in Atlanta, they’re adding 8k cameras and AR* to the Big Game production for the first time. The technology keeps changing, and the expectations keep growing.


The always-popular halftime entertainment is one of the most high-profile and complicated parts of the show, with the least amount of time to turn around. The planning starts a year in advance (before the artist is booked), and the time to get it up and running during the game is six minutes. Six minutes!! To move in a stage set, dancers, sound equipment, turn on mics, test levels, the works! Here’s a few time lapse videos that showcase the process:


Katy Perry started on the stage, then rocketed around the arena like a firework
  while Lady Gaga descended from above and dazzled her way through the crowd.  


When things go wrong, like an unexpected torrential rainstorm, sometimes it still comes together, as when Prince delivered a blistering performance in pouring “Purple Rain.”

(courtesy of the NFL)


Of course, this is all on a grand scale, but take a moment to think about how the organization and teamwork showcased here could work for your teams and partners. When you are planning, do you think of the big picture first and then break it down into manageable sections? You could assign those pieces to other team members, and then collectively regroup to review and adjust so everything is in place. Are you organized down to the last detail?


Checklists can help with the organization and by communicating those with vendors and clients, you not only keep everyone in the loop but also keep the event on track. Do you have the best employees with the right experience? Training your team in advance of the event might really help when it’s game time. Can you tackle unexpected issues and save the day with a Hail Mary? Having a Plan B or even a Plan C that you can execute quickly might make all the difference for your brand or for your client in the moment.


As you watch the game festivities, consider what you can use in your current role.  How can you apply it? Because you never know. The simple act of watching  football might just inspire you to deliver a game-winning experience at your own extraordinary event.


*Source: Nielsen



About the Author

Amy Kelley

Amy is the Global Digital Content Marketing Editor at GES. With a strong background in content marketing, social media, and communications, she is a passionate writer and self-confessed word geek. She is also the founder of a non-profit and a health and wellness online community.

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