Event Recap: Marketers Survive Super Bowl Activations and Tell All

MIMA Event: How’d We Do? Scoring Minnesota Marketers on the Big Game was held February 21, 2018 at The Grand 1858. The Twin Cities took the Big Stage for the Big Game in February, which meant Big Opportunities for local brands and they didn’t disappoint.

We’re talking about Super Bowl 52, of course. It’s the world’s premier sporting event, which brought tireless preparation, stress and excitement for brands bold enough to be part of the activation. Nearly a month later, the crowds are gone, order has been restored to MSP International Airport and Nicollet Mall is recognizable once again. So, it’s a perfect time for Minnesota marketers to sit back and answer an important question: how did we do?

In February, a MIMA survey asked local marketing professionals which brand “won the Super Bowl.” Topping the list was Explore Minnesota’s ‘Sota Pop art activation followed by Target’s Bullseye Lodge and Polaris Industries for its daring UpsideDowntown snow mobile event.

Polaris joined two other leading brands—Land O’Lakes and U.S. Bank—and the Minnesota Super Bowl Host Committee for a panel discussion hosted by MIMA and Weber Shandwick. The panelists shared what it meant for their brands, and themselves personally, to represent Minnesota and show the world what “Bold North” is all about.

Here are the highlights:

Andrea Mokros, VP of Communications, Super Bowl Host Committee

The Super Bowl was three years in the making for Andrea and her team. The committee used Indianapolis as its model, as that host city saw short and long-term benefits after the Super Bowl rolled through town. Indy and the Twin Cities both had to fight perceptions that come with hosting in those cities when Miami and New Orleans have become regular Super Bowl destinations. The biggest perception for Minnesota to overcome, of course, was weather.

The host committee had the unenviable task of making February in Minnesota as warm and welcoming as possible. Enter the “Bold North,” the simple, powerful mantra that focused on embracing and leaning in toward all that Minnesota brings. Considering Lester Holt’s mention of the Bold North during his national broadcast and Jimmy Fallon wearing Bold North mittens during his locally filmed show, it was clear Andrea and her team had succeeded.

Our job was to activate Minnesota,” she said.

The committee also implemented a true community focus. Its team members traveled to all corners of the state to connect the game and its experience to Minnesotans who reside far from U.S. Bank Stadium. The community also came out in force to volunteer. More than 30,000 people raised their hand to help out. Keep in mind, only about 10,000 were needed. It was a true Minnesota turnout that was symbolic for how “all in” the state and its residents were to be part of the main event.

Another key role for the committee was to serve as a liaison between the NFL and the brands joining the activation fray. Together, they navigated the stringent brand restrictions imposed by the NFL and its coveted annual event. Here are some of those activations.

Moriah Greenblat, Marketing Specialist, Corporate Partnerships, Sponsorships & Events, Polaris Industries

When you engineer a snow mobile backflip over Nicollet Mall, people are bound to notice. Polaris Industries most newsworthy Super Bowl activation featured Levi LaVallee, a Minnesota native and X Games gold medalist.

Polaris felt the Bold North theme aligned strongly with its brand. Using its connections with the city and local government, Polaris had vehicles throughout the Super Bowl activities. It provided warm rides for those daring enough to zip line over the Mississippi River.

Greenblat says Polaris measured success in three ways:

1. Drive awareness through content packages with LaVallee at the core

2. Internal participation and excitement among Polaris employees who worked late hours and weekends to support the events

3. Put the state of Minnesota on a nationwide platform for all to see

Susan Beatty, VP, Public Affairs & Communications, U.S. Bank

The pressure for any brand leveraging the Super Bowl is big. When the brand’s name is on the venue hosting the game itself, that pressure intensifies. U.S. Bank stepped up to the task at hand.

The bank launched its Future Leaders program by recognizing three young adults in Minnesota. The three leaders, who attended the game, were selected for demonstrating the cognitive, social and emotional benefits of play and extracurricular activities—all benefiting their community. 

It’s all about being really creative and really flexible,” Susan said. “The Future Leaders [program] is an example of how to engage with the community. Our planning started two-plus years ahead of time.”

The bank also took over the McCormick & Schmick’s location off Nicollet Mall for its Possibilities Lounge. There, visitors could use virtual payment technologies, record their best or worst dance moves and meet NFL players who stopped by.

Tim Scott, SVP & Chief Marketing Officer, Land O’Lakes

Football, hot chocolate, sugar cookies and … farming. No easy task for Land O’Lakes. The brand’s signature activation was the Farm Bowl. The bowl, and all other Super Bowl activities from LOL, had a primary goal: change the conversation about farming.

Tim feels there’s a compelling story to tell around industry, one focused on technology, entrepreneurship and flexibility in the professional world. That story is critical for the younger, next generation of farmers.

Beyond the Farm Bowl, LOL was out in full force at Super Bowl Live. Volunteers dressed like Storm Troopers handed out 25,000 cups of hot chocolate and 25,000 sugar cookies in a single day. All in a day’s work for brands getting in on the Big Game.

Written by MIMA Marketing Committee volunteer Chris Matt
Join us for our March event: Modern Experience Design where Adrian Ho, CEO of Zeus Jones will talk to us about how to plan and design the modern brand experience.

Gina Micek


Integrated marketing strategist, writer, storyteller and adventurer. I am a builder with skills in relationship building and telling compelling stories that drive connections.