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Super Bowl XLVIII: Boulevard Empire

January 30th, 2014

With Super Bowl Sunday fast approaching, New York City is bracing itself for some of the largest-scale marketing the city has ever seen. With Super Bowl commercial prices up twenty percent from last year (a thirty second ad will run you a cool $4 million), big and small brands alike are pursuing creative advertising alternatives in the Big Apple.

Super Bowl “Brand” Boulevard

The stretch of Broadway that connects Times Square and Herald Square has been deemed the “Super Bowl Boulevard: Engineered by GMC.” The highly-trafficked route will be closed to vehicles from Wednesday to Saturday so that it can function as a pedestrian mall (and branding extravaganza). GMC installed a 60-foot high, 180-foot long toboggan run on the boulevard. Each ticket costs five dollars, and all proceeds benefit the environmental non-profit, Million Trees NYC. The fourth floor of Macy’s flagship location at Herald Square has been converted into the world’s largest NFL apparel store. Major food companies like McDonalds, Pizza Hut and Dannon will be distributing free samples to those strolling on the boulevard. Mizzen + Main, a moisture wicking dress shirt start up, has designed a pop-up store at Sak’s Fifth Avenue that will feature appearances from athletes including the New Orleans Saints’ safety, Malcolm Jenkins. PepsiCo is hosting a free, three-day, catered event and concert in Bryant Park. Perhaps the most dramatic event was dreamt up by Anheuser-Busch.  The beer giant has converted a 4,000 passenger Norwegian cruise ship into “The Bud Light Hotel,” an invite-only option for weekend accommodations that will be docked on the Hudson at Pier 88. Clearly, no brand wants missing out on this parade.

I know what you may be thinking, what does this Super Bowl XLVIII hype in a major metropolis mean for me?  Well, more than you might think.

Give Them an Experience They’ll Never Forget

There’s no doubt that New York City is the hub where all industries and target markets intersect, but these global brand strategies—marketing through immersive experiences—are not limited to the city or sporting events. Creating an experience can be a powerful storytelling tool that helps to differentiate brands both large and small.  Warby Parker, a start-up turned mainstream brand, took to the streets in a unique way when they decked out the inside of a school bus like a retro-hip academic library and planned a trip around the country. The bus doubled as a mobile eyeglass store, but it’s more important role was cementing Warby Parker’s classic yet quirky brand image.  Similarly, a small business gaining much praise is Atlas Copco, an industrial equipment manufacturer that has been turning heads in the B2B space due to its innovative use of the iTunes app store. Designed for workers on hazardous sites with little to no phone service, the app delivers crucial information to the iPhone and iPad such as 360 degree 3D product information, technical specifications, images, movies and customer case studies. Whenever safety is an issue, workers need only open the app and know that Atlas Copco has their back.

Although immersive experiences may reach fewer people than more traditional marketing mediums, their high impact is unquestionable. Today’s media is saturated with advertisements, so we naturally use selective perception to filter out the information we don’t want to see. Moreover, people remember and talk about experiences—not commercials. With the proliferation of Instagram and Twitter, there’s also a significant chance that such an experience will be shared via social media. Immersive marketing gives consumers the opportunity to construct unique narratives that make brands relevant to their lives.

So is a generic $4 million, thirty-second Super Bowl commercial really worth the price? You tell us. Tweet us @BeOnTheBall.

Posted Under: Storytelling
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