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?