2001-2011: How Maxim Grew Its Super Bowl Party

By Brendan Spiegel July 25, 2011, 9:30 AM EDT

Photo: Theo Wargo/

“You tell people you work at Maxim, and the first thing they say is, ‘Oh, my God, you have the Super Bowl party,’ ” Karen Feller, Maxim’s associate director of creative services, told us back in 2007. “Each year we try to outdo what we’ve done before.” That challenge—throwing the most anticipated party surrounding the year’s most-watched sporting event—gets event professionals excited, too: In 2008, when BizBash asked readers which Super Bowl event they would most like to work on, a majority named the Maxim party, even over the halftime show.

While the magazine keeps a tight lip on what to expect each year, you can assume it will include celebrity sightings, copious amount of food and booze, and of course, plenty of gorgeous young women. To turn this man-party trifecta into a cohesive event, Maxim turns to Tracy Kessler of TK New York. The firm has overseen everything from a 2,000-person, glam-rock-themed “Maxim Rock City” party in Detroit in 2006 to a ’60s St. Tropez-style bash in Miami in 2007—complete with models dressed as Brigitte Bardot, deviled eggs with caviar, and a performance by Fergie.

When the event doubled as the opening party for Rande Gerber’s new Stone Rose lounge in the Fairmont Scottsdale Princess in 2008, a brand-new venue didn’t mean production was a cakewalk: A temporary staircase was built to facilitate traffic flow, as was a 45- by 45-foot dance floor over the pool area and a 600-foot custom stage, complete with monster speakers and trussed concert-esque lighting for performances from DJ AM, T-Pain, and Akon.

Even in 2009, when both Penthouse and Playboy bowed to the recession-era mentality and canceled their lavish parties, Maxim went on with a scaled-back show. Of course, on this level, “scaled-back” meant only 1,400 guests were invited. Kessler executed a sleek event that didn’t feel quite so over the top, transforming Tampa’s Ritz Ybor hotel into a Cuban nightclub with amber lighting, palm trees, and Havana-themed props like hats and cigars.

By 2011 there was no such talk of toning things down. Instead, Maxim capitalized on its popularity by replicating the event for consumers in three additional markets. The main party, held at Dallas’ Centennial Hall at Fair Park on the Saturday before the big game, entertained 2,500 people with a state fair theme that included cotton-candy cocktails and a Ferris wheel. While this invite-only event was populated by magazine advertisers, associates, and celebrities, the three spin-off parties held the previous evening at nightclubs in Fort Lauderdale, Chicago, and San Diego were open to the public, attracting another 2,600 guests with live entertainment, local celebrities, and Maxim models.

“The Maxim party is arguably the biggest private event during the biggest weekend in professional sports,” said Joe Mangione, C.E.O. and publisher of Alpha Media Group, the magazine’s parent company, “and we want to extend its reach to new markets.” Maxim intends to continue that next year, when the party is slated to expand to more cities.

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