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Event Marketing, a Lesson from Professional Sports

By Anthony Taylor - October 05, 2011

This past weekend I attended the re-opening of BC Place (in Vancouver), and I started thinking of all the work that was put into this event, and all the things that can go wrong with a huge event like a stadium opening.

Event marketing is all about logistics and making sure you have all of your bases covered.

No matter how much you plan and rehearse, something can always go wrong.

Do you remember the opening ceremonies from the 2010 olympics? It was an awe inspiring 3-hour spectacle, but one technical difficulty caused a major problem that was probably not just one person's fault, but many people still remember it. 

Problems are sure to arise in event planning and the opening weekend at BC Place was no different.

The Lions game, which was the official stadium opening, had more pressure on it to execute as far as a powerful event after spending 520 million to complete the project. Although I think the stadium looks awesome, I don't think the event lived up to its potential.

The game started 40 minutes late due to technical difficulties. The lineups to get in were super long, and the lineups for the concessions were just as bad. The half-time show was very Canadian (i.e.  underfunded), but the new roof and big screen were awesome, so there were some positives. 

While waiting for the game to start, I thought of all the things that go on during a sports game, aside from the game itself: 

  • Special events between plays to keep the attendees entertained
  • Unique ways to include the event sponsors and recognize their contributions (the Lions had 3 different types of sponsorship that tied directly into football. These product placements were more involved in the game, rather than simply putting advertisements on the field)
  • Lights, fireworks, sounds and music for entertainment, all of which take constant supervision and planning from large groups of people
  • Cheerleaders at the half time show or other in-game entertainment 

During an event, all of these things contribute to the overall experience of those in attendance, and if well done, they can make people want to return and tell their friends about their experience.

The key to running a successful event is having a check list of all the different things that are going into your event, and planning as best as possible for problems and creating contingencies.

A professional sporting event is a huge platform, with multiple activities happening behind the scenes. When planning your own event, follow the lead of these sporting events and make sure that you cover all of the little things that may affect the overall experience of your event.

Side note: At the end of the game (the Lions won), do you know what the biggest feedback from attendees was?

"It took way too long to get a hot-dog and a beer..."


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