It's impossible to escape the hype around TV ads during the Super Bowl.

But big brands are also running some really impressive experiential advertising events to coincide with the big game.

Many large brands are allocating and shifting marketing budgets towards more immersive experiences that really make an emotional impact on consumers and fans.  

The Bud Light New York hotel was one of last year's experiential marketing initiatives that went way over the top and really made an impact.  


Anheuser-Busch chose to rent and rebrand a Norwegian cruise ship into a gigantic Bud Light New York party bar to host 4,000 guests who included executives, distributors and some winners of promotional contests.

This was a 300,000 square foot activation. There were more than 45 bars and restaurants that were transformed with everything Bud Light branded, aboard this massive ship.

Along with the ship, two tents were set up outside where the boat was docked in Pier 88.

One of the tents, Bud Light Hotel Lounge, had super star musicians such as Busta Rhymes, Foo Fighters, Imagine Dragons and The Roots giving memorable performances.  

Even though Super Bowl ads are more hyped and watched then any other commercial their impact is still short lived.

Live events have much stronger potential to create lasting brand perceptions and positive consumer feelings toward a particular product or company. 

Bud light #UpForWhatever Party

This year's Super Bowl XLIX experiential event took place in Glendale, Arizona, where Bud built a massive 75,000 square foot 'House of Whatever' structure.  


There was a laser targeted millennial recruitment campaign and activation from Bud Light’s consumer contest that brought in a younger crowd.

Bud Light even sponsored a double decker party bus providing free transportation in between popular stops, the rolling embodiment of a designated driver.

Fotozap, a photo activation company, was on board to capture the zaniness of fans having fun.


This event was invitation-only, where the participants had to prove they were 'up for whatever', which included these outgoing millennials, making spontaneous videos drinking a Bud Light or tweeting using the #upforwhatever hashtag.  

Many famous musical acts such as DJ Steve Aoki and Nicki Minaj rocked the house. They also put on one-of-a-kind experiential activities like Brew School tastings.  

Bud Light does a terrific job with brand activation, by using all forms of marketing messaging, TV ads, events, user-generated content and participation to keep its name relevant in the very competitive beer drinking space.

Why does experiential advertising work so well?

Experiential event marketing started becoming popular in the 2000s when brands were looking for new ways to reach out to customers in impactful, meaningful ways.

Many people when watching television, myself included, mute ads or skip over them on YouTube.  

Experiential advertising uses modern communication forms that offer a greater level of interactivity, without making people feel like they are being sold something.

It gives them something to touch and encounter rather than just watch or listen to.

Many big brands are adding engagement marketing budgets and coming up with innovative ways to get their marketing message out to the targeted consumer, as it has shown its effectiveness as part of the process of creating loyal fans.   

Further reading...

For more on experential marketing from the blog, check out What is experiential marketing and why do you need it?

Andrew Broadbent

Published 6 February, 2015 by Andrew Broadbent

Andrew Broadbent is Director of Search Marketing at 17 Agency and a contributor to Econsultancy. You can find Andrew on LinkedIn or Google Plus.

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Comments (8)

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Morgan Jones

Morgan Jones, Digital Manager at Freestone Creative

'Experiential advertising uses modern communication forms that offer a greater level of interactivity, without making people feel like they are being sold something.'

4,000 people experienced a heavily branded cruise ship (amongst other things) and didn't feel like they were being sold something? Really?

I think I understand the concept of experiential advertising but this isn't subtle nor is it particularly innovative. It just looks like an excuse for a massive p!ss-up for the aforementioned 'executives (and) distributors' and a handful of competition winners.

It would have been a heck of a lot cheaper to hand out free bottles of beer to the public at a selection of bars & restaurants in the local town. After all what is more experiential than actually drinking the beer?

about 3 years ago

Andrew Broadbent

Andrew Broadbent, Director of Search Marketing at 4 EON Inc Experiential Marketing Agency

Hi Morgan, thanks for taking the time to read my article. Yes, this brand does things over the top. I have been to Google event parties that are invite only, and where they give you an experience that is quite different than just drinking some beer at a bar. The point of this year's #upforwhatever latest campaign, was to use social media to get people to become part of the brand by making their own short videos and tweeting hashtags about the Bud Light. Sometimes creating contests and exclusivity is a great way to stir up engagement and participation.

about 3 years ago


Edwin Goitia63, Owner at I Am A Brand LLC

Great article, as a consultant, brand ambassador and tour manager, I have seen tremendous changes in the past 7 years alone. XM is taking over in the marketing budgets for companies everywhere.

about 3 years ago

Andrew Broadbent

Andrew Broadbent, Director of Search Marketing at 4 EON Inc Experiential Marketing Agency

Thanks a lot for taking the time read the article Edwin.

about 3 years ago


Danielle Prawdzik, Experiential Marketing Tour Manager at Freelance

Great article Andrew! As an experiential marketing tour manager for the last 5 years, I have been part of some very successful campaigns and I very much enjoy experiencing first hand a consumer's reaction when they are really able to experience a product and or brand and walk away with pleasant thoughts on such brands and products. There have been some incredible activations over the last few years and I'm thrilled to see what 2015 will bring!

about 3 years ago


Deepa Radh, Marketing Manager at QuickTapSurvey

Great article and thanks for sharing! As a data collection supplier with many customers in the XM market, I can say that it blows our minds as to how much growth we see in the industry. XM presents a win-win for the advertiser and the consumer and we're excited to see what great activations are in our midst this year!

about 3 years ago

Andrew Broadbent

Andrew Broadbent, Director of Search Marketing at 4 EON Inc Experiential Marketing Agency

Thanks for taking the time to read it Deepa.

about 3 years ago


Mike Vien, Founder, CEO at Poppo

Andrew, thank you for your two very good articles on brand activation and new media opportunities for brands and retailers. Keep it up! This is without a doubt the most exciting period in the history and evolution of advertising. The rate of change in the advertising industry is astonishing— the technologies and platforms that have emerged in the past 20 years have revolutionized the way brands reach and communicate with consumers. For the first time in the history of humanity, any human being with a hundred dollars can connect with the billions of people, places and products, online and offline, all over the world. With mobile taking over, especially with mobile visual search in the emerging visual web, I believe that consumers will win the war for their attention in the next 5 years.

almost 3 years ago

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