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Today marks T minus four months to Super Bowl LVI, a global spectacle that will bring the NFL championship game to Los Angeles for the first time in nearly three decades and the first to be held in the city’s new $5 billion SoFi Stadium.
Dave Spencer need not set an alert. He serves as co-CEO and founder alongside Michael Heller of Talent Resources Sports, a firm that specializes in all aspects of marketing, social media, digital and media industries. They’ve been knee-deep in activations during Super Bowl week for more than a decade, having hosted major events for the likes of Sports Illustrated and Bloomberg. They’ll have a major presence in L.A. come February and before they face crunch time, Spencer hopped on a virtual interview with The Hollywood Reporter to reveal this year’s blueprints, what he makes of L.A. as a host city, and why he’s already planning an epic viewing party (Hint: tickets will likely be through the roof with demand spiking due to last week’s Pepsi Super Bowl Halftime Show lineup).
We’re four months from the Super Bowl in Los Angeles. What can you tell me about what Talent Resources has planned?
It’s four months away but we’ve been working on it for about two years, so it feels like we’re 75 percent of the way there though most of the action happens in the last six months. It’s in our DNA to build out event-driven platforms for our partners, like Sports Illustrated or Bloomberg, by identifying out-of-the-box experiences. Whenever we go into a respective city, we want to find a piece of real estate or multiple pieces of real estate that are truly representative of the city we’re activating in. Given that we manage the Sheats-Goldstein house throughout the year for different types of events, that was a no-brainer that we were going to collaborate once again for the 2022 Super Bowl, after having hosted events there for the 2018 NBA All-Star Game. As soon as the Super Bowl was announced for Los Angeles, [James Goldstein] and I made a deal. Rather than do one event, we elected to build a destination that will host multiple events throughout the week. We actually have the house for two weeks, one that will be dedicated to the build-out of making it even more of a unique destination, and the second week for events.
Can you comment yet on what events will be there?
We’re bringing back the Bloomberg Media Sports Business Summit that will feature a number of different team owners, captains of the industry and other sports leaders talking about relevant issues in the sports world. It becomes a melting pot for current issues, whether they be Super Bowl-related or having to do with the NFL or NBA. It’s an event geared toward C-level executives. That will be Friday of the big game weekend.
We have also partnered with Neiman Marcus, after having worked together this year on a number of different digital campaigns featuring sports stars. We pitched them on an idea about having a presence during the week, seeing as fashion and sports are such a perfect blend, and Jim Goldstein is a bit of a fashion icon himself. On Saturday, they will have a presence at the house for a special experience that will include some of their very important shoppers from the U.S. and Canada for an a-class experience.
On Sunday, we’re planning an ultra-luxury viewing experience for people who may not want to go to the game or for those who have may be priced out as tickets are [in the thousands] for nosebleed seats. The event will be an immersive experience featuring food and alcohol partners as well as a celebrity host, deejay and other celebrities, VIPs, and athletes. It will be something that will be very L.A. because it can’t be recreated anywhere in the world with a house that offers a beautiful view of Century City, Downtown L.A. and the ocean just as the sun is setting. It will be an experience.
Yes, we’ve secured a second venue with The Lot Studios, also known as Oprah Winfrey’s headquarters for OWN, off Santa Monica Boulevard in West Hollywood. We got lucky in that we negotiated that deal well before COVID, and now there’s a shortage of large format venues in the Beverly Hills and West Hollywood area. It offers us another best-in-class venue with 40,000 square feet overlooking the city. The only other event that’s been done there on this size is Ellen DeGeneres’s 60th birthday. We’ll be doing a Sports Illustrated event there, which has been a marquee event the night before the Super Bowl.
Super Bowl week always becomes a perfect storm [for Talent Resources] in that it touches everything that we do, from experiential marketing and social media to digital marketing campaigns, and so on. It’s really like one hand washing the other. Coupled with the city of Los Angeles, we’re extremely bullish on it this year and why we’ve been working on it for two years. We have a $5.5 million exposure in L.A. across all of our venues, commitments in production, talent budgets and what we have to deliver for our partner brands. It’s twice our normal budget.
Why the increase?
A combination of things. L.A. is such a crowded space and such an important market for brands to make noise in. Super Bowl week is a perfect moment that blends entertainment, sports and culture. We wanted to make sure that we had the best real estate, and then, again, reverse engineer what we were going to do based on that real estate. The scale at which we are operating here is probably twice to two and a half times the exposure that we would normally have in square footage alone. Also, venue prices due to the scarcity here, as I mentioned.
We also have a lot of expectations to be able to deliver. I have no doubt that we will, but it’s a crowded space. We’re competing with brands that may have an official partnership with the NFL but we are also there to offer experiential marketing that can complement that. Brands come to us to stretch their dollar and give them a big bang for their buck for that weekend. It’s almost like the Roaring ’20s in that people want to go out and hospitality prices are extremely expensive in this day and age.
Because you’re an expert on Super Bowl weekends in other cities, how do you think L.A. will compare to Atlanta, Miami or elsewhere?
There’s going to be an incredible amount of attention. One of the indicators we use for Super Bowl week is that we take hotel blocks and shop them to our corporate partners. This year, we dabbled in the market and took over half of the Peninsula Hotel and a third of the Beverly Wilshire. We did that in a speculative manner but we were able to get those rooms committed almost two weeks later. We were extremely lucky. That serves as an indicator as far as demand and let us know that L.A. is going to be huge. In terms of celebrity, in Atlanta, Tampa Bay or Miami, you had a lot of players there and by that, I mean attendees and performers. Given that L.A. is the mecca of celebrity, there’s a much wider market of who we can engage with rather than just the people who might have traveled there just for that moment.
In terms of the status of L.A. amid the pandemic, what are the conversations you’re having with partners about how desirable it is to be here?
One of the things that we did is identify spaces that work for indoor and outdoor [events]. We’ve made certain precautions to ensure the safety of our guests and make sure that our partner brands are almost indemnified and we’re not putting them in a situation where it’s going to be a super-spreader event. We’re managing risk as best we can, but if you go back about a year ago, doing a large-scale event, there was a certain taboo associated with it. Now, people have changed and so have comfort levels. People are going out, traveling, attending sporting events, and going to premieres and concerts. Hopefully that trajectory holds and the appetite continues. I think that after the holidays, people will be ready to go. I do think it could be the first meaningful event.
I don’t suppose you’re going to tell me who your dream matchup would be in the Super Bowl?
I’m the wrong person to ask. I fashion myself as a sports expert, but I’m always wrong. That’s also the great thing about the NFL because it’s completely unpredictable and why people are glued to their TVs during the season. For us, a winning Super Bowl is one that’s well attended with a lot of fan excitement surrounding it, and one with a team that either travels well or comes from a large market that can bring value to the city of Los Angeles in the form of economic recovery and stimulation.
How far out are you booking talent for your events? Are people locked in now?
We’re having talent conversations now. One of the things, again, that we do is identify talent that’s on the rise. I like to offer a varied bill of performers that will attract a wide audience and cater to our different partners. We like it to be a collaborative effort. We’re having conversations now with a number of people and I want to pay homage to Los Angeles and engage with artists who are from here and who represent the city and the culture well. We’ll start announcing our acts in the next two months, around Thanksgiving.
Right now, we’re speaking to a number of different hospitality partners, both in Las Vegas and locally, that want to come in and take over the operations, not only for the house but also partner with us for Sports Illustrated. These things are all developing. It’s part of our job and part of the mania that happens into the fall and through the winter. This is almost like another coming-out party. Even though we’ve done events this year, having the Super Bowl in Los Angeles presents a new opportunity because it’s in our backyard. People know us as insiders who can help get the best exposure paired with world-class events so they call us the quarterback off the field during Super Bowl week.
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