December 13, 2017
On February 4, U.S. Bank Stadium here in Minneapolis will host the biggest day in marketing: the Super Bowl.
I understand there’s also a football game planned for the day.
Last time the Super Bowl hype machine found itself on our frozen tundra, I was a 25-year-old account executive at a PR firm called Mona Meyer McGrath and Gavin. I had been at the firm (which later became the Minneapolis office of Weber Shandwick) for a couple years, and felt incredibly lucky to be working on the Coca-Cola account.
MMM&G had been hired by Coke to help activate around a series of big sporting events that would take place in the Twin Cities in 1991 and early ’92. In addition to hosting the Super Bowl, the Twin Cities were the site of the 1991 U.S. Open at Hazeltine and the 1992 NCAA Final Four at the Metrodome. As luck would have it, the Metrodome was also the site of the 1991 World Series and the Minnesota North Stars skated their way to the 1991 Stanley Cup Finals, which were played at the now-demolished Met Center in Bloomington.
When it came to the big sporting stage, for about eight months the Twin Cities had it all. And working on the Coke account back then, I had a front-row seat. I worked on a campaign that sought to capture and enhance the excitement we all felt about being the center of the sporting universe. For Coke, the Super Bowl would be the centerpiece of a campaign not surprisingly themed “Minnesota, We’ve Got It All.” Our mission was to “paint the town Coca-Cola red,” and boy, did we ever.
In that era, sports marketing was mainly still about creating awareness. The Super Bowl back then was not nearly the marketing platform it is today, and the “cutting-edge” activation tactics we employed back seem so rudimentary today. We created snow sculptures for the evening news and slapped Coke stickers on fans entering the Metrodome in hopes that they would be seen during the broadcast. We sent 10-foot inflatable Coke cans to greet visitors at the airport and distributed a map we’d designed with a local artist that highlighted local restaurants and noteworthy attractions around the Metrodome. We were everywhere, and the campaign was a huge success.
But it was a different time.
As excitement for Super Bowl LII continues to build here in the Twin Cities, I’m excited to see how far our industry has come in creating memorable experiences for fans and locals around these big events. Marketers are so much more savvy and creative, and we have so many more tools at our disposal to engage with fans. There are countless events planned that allow people to enjoy the Super Bowl VII experience, even if they don’t hold tickets to the game.
And while our little “We’ve Got is All” snow sculptures back in ’92 suggested that having it all included embracing winter, we’re seeing much more tangible evidence of that this time around. Witness the zipline over the Mississippi that’s part of the Bold North Festival or the myriad outdoor events offered by the Great Northern, including the City of Lakes Loppet and the US Pond Hockey Championships.
Indeed, we had it all back then. Turns out we have a little more this time around.