Super Bowl Parties Capitalize on Miami Style

Major brands happily descended on the usually sun-kissed city to host promotional parties, taking advantage of the city's over-the-top nightclubs and skin-bearing style.

February 5, 2007, 12:00 AM EST

The four-day Boost Mobile Villa sponsored by local radio station 790 the Ticket featured a St. Tropez look by day, and a glam, open-air soiree setting by night, courtesy of Relevent's Tony Berger.

It’s been eight years since Miami hosted the Super Bowl, and pretty much everyone involved—planners, sponsors, and fans—was eager to return to the city’s warm climate and bustling nightlife. “It’s big for us to be in Miami this year,” said Boost Mobile director of entertainment marketing Lisa Spiritus, who oversaw a four-day sponsored swag suite and party venue at the former Versace mansion, Casa Casuarina. “More people come to the Super Bowl when it’s in a [major] metro market. And our brand gets a lot more visibility in terms of celebrity attendees.”

In contrast to recent host cities like, say, Detroit and Jacksonville, Miami offered some relief to planners charged with the task of finding large, stylish venues for major parties for V.I.P.s and executives in town for the year’s biggest sports event. ESPN the Magazine, for example, tricked out a raw warehouse in Detroit last year, while this year the brand used little decor for its party, relying instead on the gallerylike interior of the Moore Building in Miami’s burgeoning Design District. Still, the location didn’t necessarily cut the party’s cost. “Miami is six times more expensive than past markets,” the magazine’s director of integrated marketing, Kim Willis, said, “which meant we had to tighten our budget.”

The heavy-hitting brands in town for the weekend—Dewars, Reebok, Penthouse, Gatorade, and Cadillac, to name a few—opted to take over many of South Beach’s sleek nightclubs and hotels. Maxim’s Friday-night fete, called “Hotel de Maxim,” headed to the Sagamore Hotel (home to Jeffrey Chodorow’s new restaurant and lounge Social), while PlayStation hosted daylong poolside V.I.P. gaming lounges and swag suites at the Raleigh Hotel on both Friday and Saturday. Pepsi landed at the open-air Opium Garden on Friday night—the weekend’s biggest night for parties—and competed against Sports Illustrated’s party at The Fifth (an 8,000-square-foot loft with penthouse skyboxes), and Penthouse’s party at Mansion. Skin, too, was ever-present this year, with body-painted models roaming both the Penthouse and Bauer’s “Pure Rush” parties. (Many guests at Bauer’s even opted to shed their clothes for the on-site painting services.)

Looking to separate itself from the party pack, Playboy avoided the South Beach mayhem and chose to host its “P.M.: Playboy Miami After-Dark” party at American Airlines Arena on Saturday night. (The bunny brand pulled a similar stunt in Detroit last year, taking over an airport hangar.) “Miami offered a plethora of venues,” said Playboy division vice president of creative services and special projects Donna Tavoso. “We looked at over 65. I think the hardest decision for us was [that] there was a strong pull to be outside—being in Miami—so we wanted to find a different aspect of Miami to play up, and not be on Collins Avenue.”

Celebrities, as usual, showed up to pose for photos and pick up their complimentary gifts. Fergie was the queen of the weekend, performing at the Pepsi Smash concert on Thursday night, appearing at Shaquille O’Neal’s alfresco dinner at the Boost Mobile Villa the same night, and driving in the Cadillac celebrity go-kart contest on Saturday. Also in town were Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes, who hit up the beachside Ocean Drive gala on Saturday night to see headliners Jennifer Lopez and Marc Anthony. Arizona Cardinals quarterback Matt Leinert headed to the beach for free clothes, gadgets, and services at the daytime Sprint Style Villa, and he and friends also hit the waves on the Jet Skis on-site.

Planning the entertainment for the Super Bowl itself had been in the works for roughly six months. NFL vice president of programming Charles Coplin oversaw the pregame and half-time shows—a task that had been outsourced until Janet Jackson’s notorious 2004 appearance, produced by MTV. This year, longtime producer Don Mischer joined forces with Ricky Kirshner and Glenn Weiss of White Cherry Entertainment to put together Cirque du Soleil’s nine-minute preshow and Prince’s 11-minute half-time performance. Working out of a tent city built near the stadium weeks before the game, the producers built Prince’s stage—made up of 20 prelit and wired pieces that formed the singer's signature symbol—and trained a team of 400 volunteers how to put the giant puzzle together in only six minutes. The one thing the producers couldn’t predict? The weather. “It’s something we’ve been preoccupied with for some time now,” Kirschner said several days before the big game. Despite his hopes for a balmy, breezy day, the Super Bowl suffered through downpours for most of the game, and throughout the entire half-time show. Consummate performer Prince literally weathered the storm, prancing around his glowing stage during the apropos “Purple Rain.”

Courtney Thompson, with reporting by Lisa Cericola, Albert del Toral, Mark Mavrigian & Mimi O’Connor

Photos: Sara Jaye Weiss (Boost Mobile Villa), Larry Marano/Getty Images (Fergie), Thos Robinson/Getty Images (Sprint Style Villa), Courtesy of Penthouse (Penthouse), Nick Laham/Getty Images (Prince on stage), Frank Micelotta/Getty Images (Prince on large screen)

Posted 02.05.07

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