I’m lucky enough to say that Sunday’s game will mark the third Super Bowl I have attended. I love the game, follow the season, but I am also the first to admit that if the Broncos aren’t playing, I’m likely not carving out time to watch whomever is. The Super Bowl however is a different story because while it is about football it is also a trend-setting event that will introduce the direction we’ll see event production and technology take in the year to follow. No matter who is playing, I annually watch in anxious anticipation to see what magical experience will be brought to life for viewers and in-person spectators alike.
My first go around at the Super Bowl I didn’t actually make it inside the stadium but rather was confined to the corporate hospitality village where I eagerly begged to clear the plates of high-powered executives who had scored themselves tickets. But hey, I was 21 years old, a senior in college in San Diego and I had just determined I wanted to be an event planner so all I could think was “I am AT the Super Bowl.”
In 2014 I attended Super Bowl XLVIII and this time I graduated into the attendee realm and watched as my team were absolutely crushed by the Seahawks. By halftime I had utterly lost the ability to watch the game itself. However, when Bruno Mars took to the stage I was transfixed by the production that followed. Every seat in MetLife Stadium included a ski hat equipped with LED lights, which through infrared technology allowed each of the 80,000 spectators to become animated pixels, thus transforming the crowd into a huge display screen.
Although PixMob’s LED interactive devices are now somewhat ubiquitous with large concert productions, at the time the technology in this format was just emerging and I sat in awe as the stadium seemed to beat in color to Bruno’s drum. Brands wasted no time in leveraging this transformative technology with everything from Disney’s trademark Mickey ears to Taylor Swift’s 1989 tour wristbands lighting up and changing color perfectly in time to the accompanying music.
I got to see first hand the influence the Super Bowl had on the greater event production world while working on the production of halftime shows for the National Rugby League (NRL) in Australia. In 2009, I helped produce the Grand Final (NRL’s answer to the Super Bowl) Pregame and Halftime show and all the talk was about the integration of LED screens into the musical performance as had been seen as the backdrop of Bruce Springsteen’s performance at Super Bowl XLIII. The client’s question was not “what are they doing in concerts?” it was “what did they do for the Super Bowl concert?” and how can we emulate it.
As I prepare to attend the game this Sunday at Levi Stadium, the most tech-advanced stadium in the world, I am itching in anticipation of the production that will usher in a new wave of trend-setting technology for the events industry. Between Beyonce, Coldplay and Lady Gaga there are sure to be plenty of bells and whistles designed to make the fan experience richer and more entertaining and the average event producer swoon. Join Little Bird on Instagram and Twitter for a live look at all of the event technology trends and other exciting moments at this year’s Big Game!