How I Went To The Super Bowl For Free
This past October, PepsiCo hosted a case competition. To enter, I needed to submit my game-changing idea in a video that’s 2 minutes or less–and I had 2 weeks to do it….but, that wasn’t all. My idea needed to be built on four key criteria:
- I must use new or existing technology to improve the consumer journey.
- I must showcase how PepsiCo can increase consumers loyalty to their brands.
- I must use the most creative and unique thinking to deliver the ideal customer experience.
- I must showcase how PepsiCo can inspire consumers to choose products that will leave a positive imprint on society and the environment.
I won’t go into too much detail into what I submitted, but I will say that my video was 2 minutes or less and included graphics that I created on Adobe Spark Pages. Essentially, I pitched an idea for an app that harnesses brand loyalty to benefit PepsiCo’s Food for Good Initiative. If you are unfamiliar with Food for Good, it is an incredible program and I highly recommend you watch some of the videos created explaining it without crying (it’s hard to do).
Since 2009, Food for Good has delivered nutritious food to children on free and reduced lunch, but that isn’t all. PepsiCo actually manages to create jobs while doing this, locally managing warehouses and delivering the food. As of 2018, the company has served 140,000 children, created 160 jobs and partnered with 40 organizations. This program is currently operating in 19 cities across the country, but they are always searching for new partners in order to expand these numbers.
As promised, after being announced as one of the 5 winners, I headed down to Atlanta this February to attend the Super Bowl and all of the events that go with it! As many know, Pepsi is a huge sponsor of the Super Bowl Halftime Show. However, the Super Bowl just happened to end up in Atlanta, Georgia, also known as Coca Cola’s Headquarters this year. Pepsi has fully taken advantage of this, painting the town blue and claiming Coca Cola’s turf with witty advertising.
With all of that excitement, it is no wonder that the first place we went after arriving in Atlanta, was straight to the market. We were picked up from the airport in a Mercedes-Benz and made our first stop at a Pepsi plant. Here, we suited up in safety goggles, earplugs and orange vests as we headed into the warehouse to see how Pepsi itself is made and canned, piece by piece. It was really amazing to see the stacks and lines of Pepsi products overtaking the rooms, preparing to be shipped out to the thirsty customers.
After this, we went out to some of the vendors in the market, looking at the completed products and how they were being marketed with the placement and in-store signage. Our first stop was Walmart, and their opening display was nothing short of amazing.
Piled high to the ceiling with Pepsi and balloons, there’s no way you could miss this upon entering the store. After seeing this over-the-top performance, we stopped by a small gas station, which had so much Pepsi blue that I would’ve thought Pepsi owned the place. It was great to see how close Pepsi was with their vendors, which is a vital part of running a successful business such as theirs.
Super Bowl Halftime Rehearsal
Next stop: Super Bowl Halftime Rehearsal in the Mercedes-Benz Stadium. We headed up to the suites for our private concert and were surprised by Antonio Brown and Day Prescott, who were waiting to take a picture with us. Then, we entered into what I would describe as another realm. There were dozens of hors d’oeuvres and salads hanging from trees in mason jars complemented by a complete dessert section that would put Gordon Ramsay to shame.
After making our rounds, we watched as the stage got set up and taken down and listened to the angelic voices of Adam Levine, Travis Scott and Big Boi as they absolutely slayed the concert(s). I think that no matter how many times they ran through the set, I would still be in awe as they added new effects such as drones and fireworks. We did so many things this first day, that I felt like the -40 degree weather I started off in that morning in Wisconsin was a week before.
NASDAQ Bell Closing
On Friday, we had the opportunity to be a part of kicking off Super Bowl weekend with the NASDAQ Closing Bell LIVE from Atlanta. Before we were on air, we were able to mingle with tons of executives in PepsiCo, like Ramon Laguarta and Albert Carey, among others. Watching live from Times Square, people were able to hear from these awesome leaders and us as we cheered them on from beside the stage (*cough*cough* light blue, to the left).
Super Bowl LIVE
After NASDAQ, we ran over to Super Bowl Live, an event open to the public for free. After we got mic’d up to finish some of the shooting for the event recap, we were surprised AGAIN with Barry Sanders of all people. After he spoke in an open panel with the crowd, we were brought backstage to meet and shake hands with Barry-such a cool guy!
This area was also where Tostitos was setting the World Record for the Longest Livestream of a Tortilla Bowl. For 53 hours, these chips had eyes on the camera, and of course I had to have a sample for myself (let me know if you ever find out what hour that is though). On our way out, we also met Baker Mayfield who was coming to speak with Barry.
Super Bowl Experience
On Saturday, we had a pretty chill day hanging out at Super Bowl Experience. I would describe this event as an athlete’s heaven. There were tons of different areas set up where you could do activities that football players might do in training, such as seeing how much you could bench, what your vertical jump is and how fast you can run. There was also quite a bit of sports memorabilia out and just cool areas to take photos in general.
Pepsi Sports Summit
This event was also very chill and was essentially a space where PepsiCo and all of their NFL Brand Partners could stop by on their way in and out of the hotel to grab a drink and hang out with some of the other newcomers like us. It was so fun to hear from some of these people, especially ones who used to have contracts with the everlasting rival, Coca Cola, but made the switch over to PepsiCo.
Maggiano’s Little Italy
Though I have been blessed with incredible food all week, I feel that I definitely need to mention Maggiano’s personally. Seven of us went out to dinner at this spot and were seriously treated like royalty. We were first led to a private dining room away from the noise and the room itself was beautiful. After looking at the menus, I realized we were having a family style three course meal…..and it was painful [in the best way possible].
If I’m being honest, I was already full off of the appetizers of salads and bread. However, it just kept coming. After 24 full entree-sized plates, our group finally showed off our 4th-quarter skills and finished our first and only plate out of all 24 in the dessert round. I think we were all full until dinner the next day, but can agree that Maggiano’s is well worth having to unbutton our pants on the way out.
Super Bowl LIVE: Take 2
I had a little free time on Sunday before going to the tailgate party, so I decided to swing by Super Bowl LIVE once more and see if anything was going on. As I walked up to the stage, I realized I was live on ESPN as they were interviewing Randy Moss. After they took a commercial break, he came down to the crowd to sign some autographs. I soon realized the only paper I had on me was and old luggage receipt, but, hey, desperate times call for desperate needs. Thus, Randy Moss’ signature now lives on, on Atlanta’s piece of scrap paper.
A Tailgate I Will Never Top
After my adventure with Randy Moss, we headed off to tailgate for the Super Bowl. We were invited to an exclusive event, so I figure it would be a little more intimate with people networking, but I was SO wrong. We walked into a venue with 3 different stages with artists such as Tim McGraw performing at each. This huge concert also had an open bar and tables after tables of food. It was incredible and I honestly don’t know if I will find any tailgate party satisfying enough ever again.
SUPER BOWL LIII
We made it! The events leading up to the biggest game of the year had come to an end and it was time to attend Super Bowl LIII. With seats in the 27th row, we had an unbelievable view. As for the game itself, the New England Patriots and Los Angeles Rams were pretty evenly matched, making it the lowest scoring Super Bowl ever. Ending at 13-3, with the Patriots finally scoring a touchdown in the 4th quarter, they had won their 6th Super Bowl. This knocked the Steelers to the side, having been the sole team with the most Super Bowl wins (6) until this time.
Confetti flew around for what seemed like the next hour as the team claimed their award. On the way out, I saw a handful of celebrities who were also attending, like Vanessa Hudgens, Gucci Mane and Conor Mcgregor. Yes, I am still fangirling.
This past week was a once-in-a-lifetime experience and I am so grateful that PepsiCo chose me as one of the five who were lucky enough to enjoy it.
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