Last week, ESPN the Magazine hosted a 1,200-guest party in New York to celebrate its 10th anniversary. But so as not to exclude its L.A. advertisers and affiliates, plus West Coast-based athletes and celebrities, the mag hosted a scaled-down version of the party in town last night. The smaller, local event took over La Cienega nightclub Area, plus a significant chunk of its adjacent parking lot, where sponsor Porsche parked its cars on a sweeping red carpet emblazoned with the mag's 10th-anniversary logo.
ESPN assistant marketing manager of special events marketing Tony Leake worked with Wendy Creed Productions to implement the event's design and production. “We chose Area because it allowed us to showcase our themes outside,” Leake said. “The parking lot there [was right for the Porsche tie-in].”
Indeed, the outside space was where ESPN's and Creed's teams pulled off many of their tricks. The full archive of magazine covers comprised a wall, nearly 20 feet long and 9 feet tall, that made a colorful backdrop at the arrivals area. And a 15- by 20-foot video screen played a loop showcasing the magazine's time line.
Inside, Visions Lighting made a splashy impact with its bright coffee tables, made from flat-screen monitors laid flat and wired into the furniture. (The tables showed the same reel as the huge screen outside.) Creed created throw pillows for the lounge seating that bore ESPN's anniversary logo, plus the words then, now, or next in keeping with the mag's decade celebration campaign. A bulk-candy bar, a Wendy Creed event staple, took over the back room, where Chicago-based specialty popcorn purveyor Garrett doled out its snacks in logoed tins.
The overall look was “a highlighting of [ESPN's] brand as well as their sponsors—it's very much about the sponsors,“ according to Creed, who also described the event as having “a very hip look that we're bringing from New York and incorporating into an L.A. club.”
DJ D-Nice, who recently worked at the brand's NBA All-Star party in New Orleans, spun hip-hop dance tunes for the crowd. “He kills 'em—he is amazingly talented,” said ESPN PR director Crystal Howard. “He knows how to move the crowd regardless of who's in the room.”
So who was in the room? The crowd included Venus and Serena Williams and former NFL star receiver Jerry Rice. But did that group herd immediately into a roped-off corner? Hardly. “We don't do a traditional V.I.P. area; everyone's on equal ground [at our events],” Howard said. “It's imperative that we take care of our people, and that's everybody.”