What’s it like to market the Super Bowl?

football on wall

by Jennifer Johns

Get an inside look at this intense 12-month effort from Jennifer Johns, Vice President of Marketing and Communications for the Super Bowl Host Committee. Learn how she branded Atlanta through storytelling, awareness, and teamwork.

Step 1: Branding Atlanta

Our goal was to showcase Atlanta as a premier destination for mega-events that leave a lasting positive impact on the local community. To do that, our brand strategy was to position Atlanta as an innovative, diverse, progressive, high-tech, and welcoming city in our content, copy, advertising, graphic design, and events. Our team created a primary logo and brand assets for sponsors, as well as an “Atlanta look” that secondary partners and local businesses could order. This created a great branded look and feel for Atlanta around this major event

We worked with the media team at AMB Sports and Entertainment to create a hype video as a tool to help set up presentations and speaking engagements in the months leading up to Super Bowl LIII. We collected videos and photo assets to service the media and use for our social feeds, which eclipsed previous host cities with total engagement. We worked to deliver this message through every spokesperson of the Host Committee, as well, from the COO to the last volunteer at the airport.  

Step 2: Organize the Village

We collaborated with local stakeholders in our marketing/communications ecosystem. Communications professionals from the Atlanta Convention and Visitor’s Bureau, the Mayor’s Office, Atlanta Chamber, Mercedes-Benz Stadium, MARTA, Atlanta Police, Fire and FBI, Hartsfield-Jackson Airport, and our agency partners at Jackson Spalding and Sparkloft all collaborated to ensure the key messaging — e.g. know before you go — was shared with consistency. In addition, crisis information was disseminated through proper channels to media outlets and all key entities were in the loop. This team also executed our staffing strategy by recruiting experienced volunteers in areas of communications and social media to help staff the media lounge and social media command center to tremendous results

Step 3: Leave a Lasting Impact

Marketing the Super Bowl gave us the unique opportunity to develop Legacy 53 programs to ensure our impact goal for Atlanta was met. The Off the Wall program, with partner WonderRoot, gave our communities a voice and inspired a series of 20+ murals across Atlanta spotlighting civil rights and social justice issues, as well as the John F. Kennedy Park capital project. From the groundbreaking announcement to the ribbon cutting, this initiative transformed a worn-out playground into a gorgeous playing surface with space for kids and adults alike.

In addition, our work to promote the Falcons’ launch of a girls’ high school flag football league in Georgia was a rewarding way to grow the game. Business Connect, the NFL supplier diversity program, exceeded Minneapolis outreach and participation by local diverse businesses. Finally, our teams helped plant 572 trees across Atlanta along with partners Verizon and the NFL Green Initiative, creating shade for generations to come. I’m grateful for our internal partnership with the TeamATL Volunteer and Legacy 53 Community Affairs teams. They gave us the opportunity to reach out to Atlanta to recruit over 30,000 volunteer applicants and also support us.

Step 4: Measure Success

Our goal was to touch the lives of a million people across Atlanta and we more than exceeded that goal.

  • Over one billion earned media impressions for host committee initiatives alone over one year with over half a billion in the final 18 days.
  • 5,800 national and international media were credentialed by the NFL. We connected with most at the host committee media lounge and a “best ever” media party at the Georgia Aquarium.
  • Constant Storytelling: +60 media releases, editorial boards, avails and press events over the year.
  • Advertising and PR: Drove attendance of +500,000 people to Super Bowl Experience and Super Bowl LIVE featuring Jermaine Dupri.
  • Strong in Social: 10.7 million social media impressions for the 11 day period. Eclipsed previous host committee cities in total engagement by +20%.

Our full team delivered across areas of operations, events, and community relations and volunteers. The Sports Business Journal nominated Super Bowl LIII for Event of the Year.* and our event has been considered the best Super Bowl in history. Take a look at the final product here.

Multitudes of hard-working people played a role in this mega event: the full staff of the Host Committee, the events team at the National Football League and Mercedes-Benz Stadium, committee members, official sponsors and civic-minded corporate partners, city entities and stakeholders, transportation and safety partners, local media, construction and public art non-profit, broadcasters and organizers and entities surrounding hospitality, and concert providers for pre-game and Super Bowl LIVE. Even Mother Nature was a team player that weekend. Not one of these teams dropped the ball. And now, together, we’re celebrating Atlanta’s success.

*to be announced May 22, NYC.

About the Author
As the VP of Marketing and Communications for the Atlanta Super Bowl Host Committee, Jen was responsible for marketing and communications strategy for what is considered the “best ever Super Bowl.” Prior to the Atlanta Super Bowl Host Committee, Jen spent the last three years at AMB Sports + Entertainment, where she served as Director of Marketing and Brand, leading marketing and creative services for the Atlanta Falcons and Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Before joining AMB Sports + Entertainment, Johns spent several years serving as a sports and entertainment marketing consultant where she created promotional campaigns with companies such as Nike, Coca-Cola, and AT&T, as well as TV Networks such as AMC, Current TV, TBS, TNT, and The Weather Channel.

Jen currently serves as chairman of the board of the TransAtlantic Sports Group uniting German and US soccer leadership to grow the game in the US and serve international teams with talent development. Jen holds a Bachelor of Science Degree from the College of William and Mary and a Masters Degree from Ohio University. She resides with her husband Rob and their two boys in Decatur, GA.