Super Bowl party shines light on East Rutherford

Meadowlands Liberty Convention and Visitors Bureau hosted a Super Bowl tailgate party in the game's host city of East Rutherford, New Jersey, that helped raise awareness of all the region has to offer.

Client: Meadowlands Liberty Convention and Visitors Bureau (Rutherford, New Jersey)
Agency: Axiom Communications (Secaucus, New Jersey)
Campaign: Meadowlands Tailgate Party Live from East Rutherford
Duration: January 13 - February 3, 2014
Budget: $35,000

Meadowlands Liberty Convention and Visitors Bureau (MLCVB) and AOR Axiom Communications hosted a Super Bowl tailgate party for the general public this year in the game’s host city of East Rutherford, New Jersey, that helped raise awareness of all the region has to offer.

"The financial resources of our marketing reach are fairly limited," explains Jim Kirkos, president and CEO of MLCVB. "Attracting media attention to the destination assets we have in the New Jersey Meadowlands and generating opportunities for the region’s businesses was a primary objective." 

Strategy
The team partnered with the town of East Rutherford, New Jersey, to co-host the event on Super Bowl Sunday (February 2), and recruited nine sponsors, including Coca-Cola, Bud Light, Dunkin Donuts, Sports Authority, and The New Jersey Devils, to help fund and promote the event.

"The town of East Rutherford often feels ignored by the sports complex, so [its leaders] were looking to do something to bolster its identity as the game’s host," explains agency founder and president Ron Simoncini. "We knew local people and sponsors would identify with an opportunity to connect with the Super Bowl. Neither the National Football League nor the state put any money into local community activation. There was a big void there, and that was our opportunity."

Local and national media relations, social media outreach, and website http://thebiggameexperience.com drove awareness. 

Tactics
The tailgate party and its major sponsors were announced to local media at a press conference in East Rutherford’s town center on January 13. Details about performers and activities scheduled for the event were announced to local media at a January 27 press conference in Secaucus, New Jersey.  

The team continually pitched stories about the event and other attractions in the Meadowlands region to media as well as some local bloggers.

Pitches were also pegged to arising Super Bowl-related news, such as the NFL not giving East Rutherford Mayor James Cassella a ticket to the game.

"We let local and national outlets know Mayor Cassella didn’t get a ticket, and he gave a lot of interviews and talked about his town’s relationship to the Super Bowl," Simoncini says.

After media covered the snub, Indianapolis Colts owner Jim Irsay gave Cassella a ticket, and the team drove that story as well.

MLCVB drove messaging to its Facebook, Twitter, and email subscriber audiences.

Details about the event were also posted on http://thebiggameexperience.com, which MLCVB launched in March 2013.     

Two New Jersey TV stations covered the tailgate party live. The event featured New Jersey-based bands, food trucks, a climbing wall, a cannoli-eating contest, and more.

Results
Kirkos and Simoncini expected the event to draw 3,000 to 5,000 people. More than 7,500 attended.

Thebiggameexperience.com got 7,361 visits in January, up from 512 in December, and more than 4,000 visits between February 1 and 2.

Nearly 150 earned stories ran in outlets including CNN, The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, ESPN, and Al Jazeera.

Future
Plans include promoting an array of local events and outdoor activities in the Meadowlands region, ranging from community festivals to kayaking to a major Supercross race in June at MetLife Stadium.

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