How San Francisco Landed the Super Bowl With Help From an Agency

Woo and wow with technology

Here’s a Super Bowl brief most agencies haven’t encountered and one that has nothing to do with a 30-second spot.

The mission: convincing NFL owners to choose a host city with a stadium that’s still under construction and in a region having next to no experience with the biggest sports event of the year.

The strategy: woo and wow them with technology.

San Francisco Bay Area philanthropist Daniel Lurie led the effort to bring Super Bowl L in 2016 to the new Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, Calif., and enlisted his pal Rich Silverstein, co-founder of Goodby, Silverstein & Partners, to develop a marketing strategy to nab the rights.

The competition was considerable. The Bay Area had only played home to the big game once before. On the other hand, Miami, which also fought hard to land the event, was an experienced host.

“There was no overconfidence on our part,” Lurie recalled. “Miami had the advantage of weather and a familiar experience for league owners. It’s a great place and has hosted the Super Bowl 10 times before. They know how to throw a party.”

Said Silverstein: “We treated it like a new-business pitch. When an opportunity like this comes along, why not use the tools we use every day to get the Super Bowl to the Bay Area? The league owners are no-nonsense, wealthy people, and we had to get their attention very quickly.”

San Francisco’s chase for the Super Bowl involved a particularly 21st century approach. The final bid in May was delivered via the iPad, which sported videos highlighting local points of interest as well as power brokers like San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee and Google executive chairman Eric Schmidt. The devices were delivered in stylish white boxes engraved with the names of the teams and their owners.

Google, Levi’s and other companies based in San Francisco and Silicon Valley were major backers of the bid.

The agency promoted the quest with a campaign dubbed “Bring the Bowl to the Bay,” featuring a website, logo and social media push. GSP created a website aggregating social media postings to gin up awareness and enthusiasm for the bid.

Lurie, who heads up an anti-poverty charity, pledged that 25 percent of the funds raised toward the bid would go to combat homelessness in the Bay Area.

Katie Blackburn, evp of the Cincinnati Bengals, whose family owns the team, was impressed by the tech-centric approach.

“San Francisco was the most technologically advanced of any presentation so far,” she pointed out, adding that the new state-of-the-art Levi’s Stadium was also a major factor in the city’s selection.

The only other time Northern California hosted the Super Bowl—in 1985, at Stanford Stadium on the Stanford University campus—spectators sat on wooden benches. By contrast, those who attend the 2016 game will be able to enjoy Wi-Fi and in-game mobile apps and order concessions from their seats. The stadium will also boast solar panels, recycled water for irrigating the field and a green roof brimming with 23,000 square feet of plants.

Publish date: June 25, 2013 © 2020 Adweek, LLC. - All Rights Reserved and NOT FOR REPRINT