FROM SCOTTSDALE, ARIZ. This reporter may be a jaded New Yorker, but the event coverage norms of the East Coast—crabby PR people, long lines, and broken promises among them—are nowhere to be found in sunny Arizona. And DirecTV's Celebrity Beach Bowl yesterday was no exception. The media check-in line was nonexistent (the PR contact answered her cell phone when we got lost!), the greenroom was crowded but efficient (we ate a sandwich next to Brody Jenner!), and the seating was ample for V.I.P.s and paying ticket holders alike (with nary a pushy line-cutter in sight!). All said, DirecTV's Beach Bowl ran like a well-oiled machine.
The event strategy was simple: to pair retired and current pro football players with eye candy like Girls Next Door star Kendra Wilkinson and Gossip Girl star (and current It girl) Blake Lively. “We basically said, 'Let’s bring a bunch of NFLers together and put on a flag football game.' Celebrities, football legends, and models? Who won’t want to come watch that?” said DirecTV senior vice president of advertising and PR Jon Gieselman. “And why not throw in a band at the end? It’s one of those things that clicks on all cylinders from a marketing standpoint. It’s just a great value-added event for people that are in the Super Bowl city, for them to come and enjoy and participate.”
Gieselman worked with Event Eleven's Tony Schubert and Eastside PR's Matt Hein to produce the Spike- and Samsung-sponsored event, which combined a pregame concert by Josh Kelley with a 60-minute game and a postgame concert by Fall Out Boy. Bleachers flanked the sand field and a 50- by 40-foot stage that anchored the event's footprint—which Gieselman dubbed “a proper mini stadium.”
Aired live on DirecTV, the event itself went off just as Gieselman had hoped. Blue-team quarterback Doug Flutie strategized with team coach Matt Leinart, with Green Mile actor Michael Clarke Duncan aiding in assists and Norbit actor Terry Crews filling the role of team showboat. The white team lost but put forth a good effort, with former NFLer and Heisman Trophy winner Desmond Howard anchoring the team and David Spade chipping in comedic timing.
Fall Out Boy actually performed early, defying yet another event production norm. Fans descended from the bleachers onto the sand, only to see up close that Pete Wentz barely sings and mostly just hovers in the background (contrary to his many photo shoots). A JumboTron on the opposite end of the field offered game replays throughout the event, as well as concert shots. The event's only downside was the chill in the air, which resulted in a smallish (almost paltry) postgame concert audience.