Verizon’s virtual Fortnite stadium.
It’s not the Super Bowl anyone planned. But Verizon chief marketing officer Diego Scotti said the company approached this year’s game with the idea that this would be the brand’s “best Super Bowl ever,” as it seeks to reach consumers in new ways this year.
The company will appear around the biggest marketing day of the year in a variety of ways, building on its Super Bowl commercial with elements like a Verizon stadium in Fortnite and a Super Bowl game night concert to support small businesses, featuring artists like Miley Cyrus and Alicia Keys. Verizon will also have a big presence with its 5G service at the Raymond James stadium in Tampa, where the game will be held Sunday, with features it says it hopes will help with managing safety and crowding (despite limited attendance this year).
“I personally believe that the Super Bowl is a great platform, no matter the circumstances,” Scotti said. “Because it just obviously brings people together like very few events in the year can… it creates a platform for big news and engagement.”
Some other companies are opting to scale down efforts this Super Bowl after an extraordinarily difficult year.
“We kind of took the opposite approach,” he said. “It started with a moment for us in which there are two things happening: One is the evolution of our technology with 5G, and second is the work that is so needed right now around helping move society forward.”
Scotti added many consumers are looking for a bit of distraction.
“I think an important thing to remember is that even in moments like this, we have to really think that everyone is also craving for a little bit of fun, a little bit of entertainment, a little bit of escapism,” he said, “Not to forget all the hard things that are happening, [but to have] a sense of hope as well that we will get through this. And these are ways of also coming together.”
Verizon says it spent more than $80 million enhancing its network to support the Super Bowl at the Raymond James Stadium and surrounding areas. But whether or not fans are attending the game, the company also built a “5G SuperStadium” in the NFL mobile app for certain iPhone users to watch the game from different angles. The company also has a free “Watch Together” mode in the Yahoo Sports app so people can watch and chat with their friends and family.
The “Verizon 5G Stadium” in Fortnite’s Creative Mode is another piece of the plan, which will let people compete for prizes and interact with NFL players and pro gamers in football-inspired games.
The company is also kicking off an effort to help small businesses with its “Big Concert for Small Business.” The show begins after the Super Bowl at 11 p.m. ET and will be hosted by Tiffany Haddish with performances by Alicia Keys, Miley Cyrus, Christina Aguilera, Eric Church, Luke Bryan, Jazmine Sullivan, H.E.R. and Brittany Howard. The concert will be streamed online in numerous places, including YouTube, Twitter and TikTok, and will be broadcast via BET, CBS Sports Network and other channels. The event will prompt people to text to donate to a nonprofit supporting small businesses.
Additionally, Verizon will donate $10 million to non-profit Local Initiatives Support Corporation, which will help provide financial support for businesses. It’s also pledging to help a million businesses through 2030 with digital tools and support.
“We had to also use the Super Bowl as a platform to impact the community and society in a bigger way,” Scotti said. “Definitely one of the areas that has been more affected by what’s going on is small businesses.”
And then, the company will have its in-game spot, which it’s still keeping mum about. Scotti would only say it’s “going to be amazing.”