Spending four productive Pre Super Bowl days logging lots of Fitbit steps in and around San Francisco produced some great experiences, meetings and observations. Enjoy the game!
The Value of Radio Row: A few years ago the death of radio, or the spoken word, as a viable piece of storytelling to a wide audience was all the rage. However today, with the integration of social media, hyper-targeting and the growth of mobile devices, audio storytelling has never been bigger. Almost 200 accredited outlets, and many others wandering in the public area, filled Radio Row at the Moscone Center. They ranged from the traditional rights holders to internet startups to team-specific sites (the Redskins, Raiders and Dolphins all had their digital teams there gathering content from alumni and others) with bold setups for a host of Sirius shows, and CBS building out its own self-contained content for both national and local stations heading to San Francisco.
While it can be difficult to navigate later in the week, Radio Row for the right markets, the right talent, and the right genre remains a huge opportunity for brands. Booking current and former players to hawk products is low hanging fruit, but the ultra-creative can also score big, especially in the Monday-Wednesday window when stations are looking for both live and taped content to fill hours of talk. Also if you have talent that can be authentic and talk the game as well as the product, it can reap big benefits. Jeff Goldblum walking the floor doing a few hours on the latest Independence Day film was a smart way to promo the film to an audience that loves action; and it doesn’t hurt that he can talk at least a little about the NFL and his past guys-related films. Nickelodeon’s Kel Mitchell filled two hours talking about his latest kids film, but also rapped “Good Burger” and “Keenan and Kel” to show hosts who are now of the age to have watched those shows growing up while the UFC’s Dana White was there talking MMA. . Like Goldblum, he also knew the sport as well.
In addition to radio there is also the great opportunity of social engagement, which is still gaining traction with traditional media outlets. However YouTube Sports and Say Now each had a presence in and around the area, reaching an even wider audience than many traditional media outlets. Offering up selfies or video sharing by talent also is a huge help in spreading the word to a wider audience. However the beauty of success on radio row remains in literally walking the floor with the right talent. Picking markets big and small, filling in a drop-by for some national audio shows, taping a podcast or two and filling time with some fan interaction and photo sharing can be a huge hit for a brand, a broadcast show and for talent looking to gain a foothold. It won’t work every time; there is a great deal of selling even early on in the week, you can’t push too much or overtly hawk a product that is a huge disconnect and you need a face or a voice that is both authentic and recognizable in just a few seconds, and you have to make sure all the social pieces are in place and the follow-up after the show has to be solid; but for the right talent and the right amount of time, radio row is as big a hot today as it has ever been.
Feeding Opportunity: The Media Center can be a grind for thousands of talent and producers that frankly rarely see the light of day, filling hours of time with content. Many welcome the break from being on-air or recording with a quick snap or a conversation off air about other goings-on in the world. A meal for many on Radio Row is usually floors or blocks away at any given time. One group that found a way to help change the pace was the Sonoma County Wine Growers Association, who made trips through the media area around Happy Hour passing out free samples of wine and getting a ton of on-air mentions of gratitude. For all the products being hawked, it was amazing that so few brought some little pieces of swag or giveaways as leave a behind for media when going form station to station. Some branded candy, a little memento here or there, would go a long way and are often forgotten in the mix.
Butterfinger was one to take advantage, as they made their rounds with spokesperson Terrell Owens, everyone got a sample size candy or two. One other great opportunity? Outside the Moscone Center was a group of Girl Scouts selling cookies. Now IF They could make it into the public space around Radio Row, or even cut a deal with the Host Committee, the amount of cookies sold to media would go through the roof. The best way to the media’s heart is through their stomachs. As New York Post critic Phil Mushnick says, “If it ain’t catered, it ain’t journalism.”
Tech talk: Lots of talk and displays public and in the media area about innovation and broadcast, but the activations by tech brands associated with the NFL are continuing to evolve. SAP took to the streets of Super Bowl City with several consumer-oriented promotions that literally used the energy of the fan to generate points and competition, from Quarterback simulators to pedaling station that lit up huge displays in color and then calculated the amount of energy each peddler had against others. All the point gathered for energy expended went to a massive leaderboard that was shared across all social platforms, helping convey the position that SAP has not just in sport, but in technology, as a leader in consumer engagement.
Chevron’s display at Super Bowl City connected contests involving core STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) programs to all things NFL, using science and math tied to sports as a key learning tool for all coming through their display. Intel found their sweet spot with perhaps the most coveted giveaway anywhere in the Bay Area, a custom designed glass hologram packaged in a commemorative box for anyone willing to wait on long lines to have. Combined with their drone technology display it was not a lot about football, but it was all about showcasing unique futuristic ways which consumers can use their core technology in a unique, and memorable, way.
Then there was Microsoft. The massive NFL tech partner trotted out talent of past (Joe Montana) and present (Drew Brees) to talk about tablet use big and small on the field of play, and to tout their own consumer promotion, The Imagine Bowl, which gave fans a chance to come up with their own ways in which technology will impact the game. While the finalist ideas weren’t really that original…dealing with apps that could help concessions more, VR for consumers from a players perspective and the like, what was interesting was the NFL’s Brian Rolapp talking about how Augmented Reality much more than Virtual Reality, can be a game changer for the consumer experience going forward. Why? AR is a shared experience, watching a 3D field with plays from different angles almost in real time, for example. VR is a singular experience that needs to isolate the fan from those around him or her right now. While that experience continues to evolve, the shared experience with friends is really the core of why consumers love live sports, and can lead to a bigger and more robust experience going forward. While Microsoft’s partnership is still evolving, it is clear that their partnership is leading to not just changes in fan experience but in effectiveness and efficiency of play on the field as well through the use of tablets. What’s next?
The use of video in real time for players of any level. What’s slowing the progress? Stadium connectivity, another issue that the NFL and all leagues, will have to address even more closely with partners like Verizon. Solving the connectivity issue not just on the field, but in the stands, remains the biggest barrier in the evolution of engagement for all in massive sports facilities.
With all the goings-on, one thing is for sure. The window of creativity and exposure around big events like Super Bowl continues to expand globally with no sign of stopping. Finding that niche to convey the message, and it has to be an authentic and connected message, is a challenge, but the opportunity to find that place has never been great, as evidenced by all the buzz and success big and small this past week in San Francisco. Now they just have to play the game