What would be the ultimate fan experience for NFL football fans? That’s the question that Verizon asked when they began developing their activation for Super Bowl City in 2016 at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, CA. They wanted to create an event that would offer their customers unprecedented access to the NFL’s greatest game.
The answer they arrived at was to create an attraction that would put the fans inside the game. And when they started thinking about what it meant to be “inside the game,” Verizon didn’t just stop at having fans ride the bench on the sideline. They wanted their customers to experience what it feels like to stand in the huddle and line up at the line of scrimmage when the game is on the line.
And that’s exactly what more than 2,000 of Verizon’s customers and prospects got to do. They lined up at quarterback, with defensive linemen snarling and twitching only a few feet away. It was 4th and goal, with only seconds left on the clock, and their team was behind on the scoreboard. If they completed the pass, they would become a legend. If they missed…. Well, you know the rest.
Forging an Unforgettable Fan Experience
To create the Verizon Game Winner Experience, Verizon teamed up with experience marketing agency Momentum Worldwide. Together, they started working on a massive display that would couple Microsoft’s Kinect technology with a custom-designed big-screen display to place fans inside an immersive NFL fan experience. They designed an Ultra HD projection screen that wrapped around the user at a 200-degree curve radius. The final screen design measured 25 feet wide and 10 feet tall.
To create the most realistic visual experience possible, Momentum brought in content agency Los York. They developed an immersive video experience that incorporated all the aspects of an NFL game that would be in the field of vision of a quarterback at the line of scrimmage.
All 11 players from the defense were waiting at the line, with the middle linebacker surveying the set and calling defensive audibles. Over on the sideline, a group of uniformed players surrounded an encouraging head coach wearing a headset with play card in hand. Behind them, professional cheerleaders rallied a massive live action crowd.
To tie the whole experience together, the creative team put together an immersive audio track with all the sounds you would expect to hear on the playing field. Participants were surrounded by the sound of a roaring crowd, with grunts and groans from the players, and the sharp crack of pads and helmets smashing together. Over the top of the action, CBS Sports’ Greg Gumbel provided play-by- play commentary as the action got underway.
Stepping in with the Game on the Line
More than 2,000 fans stood in line to participate in the Verizon Game Winner fan experience during the days ahead of Super Bowl 50. When fans made it to the front of the line, they were handed a jersey and a real football and asked to pose for a portrait in front of a green screen. After their pictures had been taken, the fans were instructed to step into a circle that was drawn at the center of the artificial turf flooring.
These lucky fans then found themselves completely immersed inside the game. A video montage set the stage, showcasing the sights and sounds that led up to the final play. The screen then switched to a widescreen panorama as the offense lined up for the moment of truth. After the snap, the play developed with three wide receivers running various routes toward the end zone.
When the rookie quarterback made their throwing decision, Kinect technology detected the motion of their arm and sent a perfect spiral soaring across the screen into the hands of the moving receiver. When the pass was completed, the celebration was instantaneous as the crowd in the stands and the players on the field broke into wild celebrations.
It’s All in the Follow-Through
While this experience was obviously unbelievable, it was far from over when the fans stepped off the turf at the Verizon Game Winner display. Within 10 minutes of completing their game-winning pass, each fan received a customized video highlight clip, delivered by email.
The custom video footage featured Hall of Famer and professional announcer Marshall Faulk, broadcasting from the official set of the NFL Network. Using the green screen portrait and video of the actual pass, each fan received an authentic NFL highlight clip of their personal moment of glory.
This might seem like a lot of effort to provide an unforgettable experience to only 2,000 fans – but the reach of the activation extended far beyond Super Bowl City. The emails containing the custom highlight clips enjoyed an astonishing 98 percent click-through- rate, with 1,400 fans sharing their videos via Facebook and another 1,000 fans sharing on Twitter.
Rewarding Excellence in Interactive Fan Experience
The Verizon Game Winner activation was also a major award-winner. Event Marketer recently awarded Verizon and Momentum with the 2017 Ex Award for best sports activation. The Verizon Game Winner topped Samsung’s “The Samsung Experience” from the PGA Championship, and Chevrolet’s “Chevy All Star Game” MLB activation.