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Promo Case Study: Super Bowl Success

The inside story of how a Florida promo distributor has executed six figures worth of promotions for the Super Bowl LIV host committee.


The Pro: Luke Freeman, President/Founder, Wizard Creations (asi/362568)
Client: Miami Super Bowl Host Committee
Job: Produce a variety of promotional product collateral for different initiatives tied to Super Bowl LIV
Dollar Size: Six figures
Product Scope: More than 100,000 items

Luke Freeman

Twelve years ago, Luke Freeman sat in the stands at Super Bowl XLI at the Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens, FL. Originally from Chicago, the Miami-area transplant watched as his beloved Chicago Bears fell to the Indianapolis Colts 29-17. While the loss stung, it didn’t detract from the incredible spectacle of the Super Bowl itself – the United States’ single most viewed annual event since 2006. The pageantry, the performances, the sense of being at the center of the world, the profusion of promo products – it had Freeman bursting with excitement. “One day honey,” he told his wife, who was with him at the game, “I’m going to do the merchandise for the Super Bowl.”

At the time, Freeman was only working promo as a side job, but the words nonetheless proved prophetic. For Super Bowl LIV, being held in Miami February 2, 2020, Freeman has been providing a spectrum of promo solutions for his client, the Miami Super Bowl Host Committee, and their partner sponsors. Here’s how he earned – and delivered on – the massive opportunity.

Step One: Become a Market’s Go-To Guy

Freeman is the kind of guy who gives the same smile and show of respect to the janitor as he does the CEO. That kind, humble way of operating has seeded his success. Following a 2009 layoff, Freeman poured his ample energy into building Wizard Creations into a promo powerhouse. Strategic and focused, Freeman keyed in on the sports market, assiduously networking, building relationships and engineering opportunities. When those opportunities turned into deals, Freeman came through like Joe Montana on a game-winning drive. The unfailing reliability and creative solutions earned Freeman a stellar reputation among end-buyers – and a wealth of business for Wizard Creations, which increased its year-over-year revenue by 31% last year and expects to have more than $10 million in promotional sales in 2020.

Sustainable branded straws
Sustainable branded straws were among the many products Wizard Creations produced to help promote Super Bowl LIV.

“From giveaways and signage, to uniforms and printed collateral, we’ve done projects in every major professional sports league and in collegiate sports over the last decade,” says Freeman. “The people who make the decisions for these teams know I’m going to deliver, and that’s why we’ve continued to grow our business with them.”

As fate had it, one of those executives landed the role of vice president of corporate sponsorships with the Miami Super Bowl Host Committee. Needing a reliable vendor for promo collateral, the VP judged Freeman to be the perfect partner based on both past experience and the dynamite ideas Wizard Creations brought to the table through the courting process. “Tons of competitors wanted in on this opportunity, but ultimately they knew they could trust me, that they’d get a fair price, good value and exciting solutions,” Freeman says. “That tipped the scales in our favor.”

Step Two: Be Flexible

For the 18 to 24 months leading up to the Super Bowl, the host committee was responsible for executing a wide variety of small and large events to promote the big game – and its host city. Wizard Creations’ role has been to design and deliver marketing collateral for the many events. It’s been a dizzying undertaking that entails understanding the goals of every initiative and the needs of the brands involved with each. “We’re dealing not just with the committee, but with their sponsors, so there are literally dozens of different contacts, events and objectives,” explains Freeman. To come through, it’s essential to roll with the punches. “You have to go into it knowing that things are probably going to change as each project evolves,” Freeman notes. “The most important thing is to be flexible and adaptable, and to respond to what each client needs.”

Step Three: Tap in Talented Teammates

Fortunately, Freeman hasn’t had to go it alone. To ensure each project gets the requisite creative and logistical support, Freeman has enlisted the help of a handful of top sales professionals at Wizard Creations, the distributorship’s in-house creative team, and preferred suppliers from Peernet, a strategic alliance of promo distributors and suppliers to which Wizard belongs. “It’s important to have a great internal team and partners you can count on to pull off something on the scale of the Super Bowl,” Freeman says.

Step Four: Deliver the Goods

Of all the initiatives and events Wizard Creations has worked on, the centerpiece is providing custom branded merchandise for the more than 10,000 people working as volunteers with the host committee to make the Super Bowl a delightful experience for Miami’s visitors. Worn at various Super Bowl-related events, the custom-made gear serves as both uniform pieces and incentivizing sentimental mementos for the volunteers. Items Freeman and his team have delivered include a backpack, tumblers, lanyards and sunglasses, which bear the Super Bowl tagline of “LIVE IT MIAMI” – the “LIVE” being a play on the Super Bowl’s “LIV” Roman numerals. The gear is co-branded with the official Super Bowl volunteer uniform partner, Perry Ellis (asi/77715), which is based in Miami.

Another initiative involved producing choice merch, sent via direct-mail package, for important influencers. The program was tiered into categories labeled silver, gold and platinum. “The bigger the influencer, the more impressive the package,” Freeman says. Silver-level influencers, including people like local market radio DJs and journalists, received items like a hat, T-shirt and bag. Platinum influencers included major celebrities; they received completely custom merch. For example, one hip-hop star known to have a predilection for trendy jumpsuits was, as of press time, due to receive a fully custom Super Bowl jumpsuit. Pictures of him in the suit were to be shared on social platforms – an outreach destined to generate buzz.

Wizard’s self-promotional Super Bowl-related lunchbox kit
Wizard’s self-promotional Super Bowl-related lunchbox kit featured cool items including coasters, sunglasses, lip balm and a tumbler.

Freeman also used swag strategically to help promote the Super Bowl LIV Business Connect Program – a partnership between the National Football League (NFL) and the Miami Super Bowl Host Committee. The program aimed to provide diverse, qualified and certified South Florida area businesses opportunities to compete for special event-related contracts connected to the Super Bowl. Products from Wizard Creations were in abundance at events educating the community about the program. “There were different items at different events, everything from lip balm and sustainable straws to sunglasses,” says Freeman.

One more example: Wizard Creations supported a Pepsi-sponsored event that sought to build buzz among top marketing executives working in corporate divisions focused on the Hispanic community. For the event held at Telemundo headquarters, Freeman provided gift sets that promoted the Super Bowl and Wizard’s own services. The co-branded sets centered on a custom lunchbox that contained products such as coasters, which feature a graphic of the Miami skyline and the “LIVE IT MIAMI” tagline.

“Identifying the right partners is critical to the success of the host committee and our ability to execute at the highest of levels – and working with Luke Freeman and the Wizard Creations team has allowed us to deliver exceptional results to the NFL, our key stakeholders, and most importantly, prepare for the visitors coming to South Florida for Super Bowl LIV,” said Brian Bishop, vice president of partnerships and marketing for the Miami Super Bowl Host Committee. “Wizard’s commitment to quality products and innovative ideas has been second to none, and we are proud to partner with a respected South Florida-based company as we prepare to host the biggest sporting event in the nation.”

Step Five: Build Out the Opportunity

In addition to promo, Freeman is a professional speaker and runs another company: Wizard Digital Marketing. Smartly, he built off his Super Bowl promo partnerships to score work for these related ventures. For instance, he spoke at events that stumped the Business Connect Program while also handling select digital marketing/advertising initiatives. “It was exciting to connect the different opportunities,” he says.

Step Six: Enjoy It

Sure, being the Super Bowl’s “swag guy” requires a marathoner’s energy and persistence, but it’s all been worth it. “Being part of the 54th Super Bowl on the 100th season anniversary of the NFL is something that will live in Wizard’s legacy forever,” says Freeman. “It’s especially exciting because we get to help make this event a success for our community. I always dreamed that one day I’d be involved in the world’s largest event. And today, we’re a premier partner.”

Takeaways:

1. Live the Golden Rule in your business dealings and personal life.
2. Make your word your bond; if you say you’ll do it, then do it.
3. Network strategically in key markets you aim to serve.
4. Be nimble and adaptable.
5. Deliver creative concepts and graphic designs on products and packaging.

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*Advertising: cups, bags, glasses, pens, coffee mugs, key chains, t-shirts, golf shirts, jackets, and so much more! Just call and talk to one of our reps for more informati

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