CHICAGO “This is kind of confusing, bro,” one partygoer remarked at the Hilton Chicago on Thursday night. Luckily for any of the 4,700 guests who were unsure of where to check in for Playboy's New Year's Eve party, plenty of signage and more than 100 volunteers were on hand to give directions. Ultimately, the crowd funneled into orderly alphabetical-by-last-name lines, and guests got their wristbands and reached the hotel's ballroom with plenty of time to spare before the midnight confetti drop.
Christian Banach, owner of entertainment and marketing firm Global Adrenaline and its celebrity-booking company, GA, produced and planned the massive gathering. For the past seven years, his company has put on a local New Year's Eve bash, which Banach described as “our quote unquote Super Bowl event of the year.” The event has typically drawn about 2,500 to 3,000 guests, but this year's attendance saw a dramatic spike.
According to Banach, the party's new partnership with Playboy was one of the factors that helped drive ticket sales. “Having an internationally recognized brand associated with the event gave it some added validity,” he said. The partnership began when Global Adrenaline launched GA last year. The company represents Chicago-based model Crystal McCahill, Miss May 2009, and “we were working hand-in-hand with Playboy for a lot of her bookings“ Banach said. “The relationship worked really well, and we started to talk about how we could extend it beyond just booking some of their Playmates. And that's when our New Year's Eve Party came up.”
“This year, we're putting out a combined January-February issue for the first time, so we looked at this as an opportunity to build newsstand sales and to get our product out in front of a great young crowd,” said Donna Tovoso, Playboy's New York-based division vice president of special projects. Toward that end, Miss January and February 2010 were among the 10 Playboy Playmates who co-hosted the event, and magazines were distributed at the end of the evening.
Tovoso added that partnering with the celebration was “a way to build the Playboy platform by giving exposure to one of our advertisers, Sega, and a licensee, which is a Playboy energy drink that's about to hit the Chicago market.” Gaming lounges allowed guests to play the Sega game Bayonetta, which launched on Monday, and multiple bars offered custom cocktails prepared with the branded beverage. “There was a nice synergy all around,” Tovoso said.
Banach said this year's marketing efforts incorporated some techniques that he and his team of promoters learned last year. “The economy put us in a bind, and we were forced to do things a little differently and learn some new tricks that we were able to apply this year,” he said. One of those tricks was giving away tickets through radio contests in early November. “You may give away a ticket, but that usually leads to three to four ticket sales,” Banach said. “People don't want to come to a New Year's Eve party alone, so if you lock them in early they'll become promoters for the event, trying to convince their friends to come along for the next two months."