Verizon bets big on Super Bowl with virtual Fortnite stadium, livestream concert

Dive Brief:

  • Verizon this week revealed its marketing plan for the Super Bowl, including the debut of a virtual football stadium in the video game Fortnite, a livestreamed concert after the game, a TV commercial and on-site activations for Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida, according to a press release. The telecom also created a 5G SuperStadium in the NFL mobile app that will let iPhone 12 users watch the game from different camera angles.
  • Gamers can visit the Verizon 5G Stadium in the Creative Mode of Fortnite to see NFL players and professional gamers compete in a variety of games custom-built for the virtual experience. Viewers who don’t play Fortnite can watch the action on livestreaming platform Twitch or on Twitter today and Feb. 5 at 7 p.m. ET.
  • After the Super Bowl, Verizon will livestream The Big Concert for Small Business with stars including Miley Cyrus, Alicia Keys, Christina Aguilera and Luke Bryan. Viewers can virtually attend the concert at 11 p.m. on Verizon-owned platforms like Yahoo and Fios, several cable outlets and the brand’s channels on social apps such as Twitter and TikTok, per the announcement.

Dive Insight:

Verizon’s blanket campaign for the Super Bowl aims to showcase the capabilities of its higher-speed 5G network to deliver a variety of content, including livestreams, gaming and multi-angle viewing of live events. The all-out effort contrasts with the pullback by Super Bowl mainstays like Coca-Cola and Budweiser after a difficult year of pandemic disruptions. Verizon saw a 2.7% decline in revenue last year, but has ambitious plans to build out its 5G network and expand subscriptions to the next-generation mobile service.

The telecom also seeks to reach consumers of all ages with its new multichannel campaign, which is noteworthy for its virtual Verizon 5G Stadium in Fortnite. Verizon claims it is the largest activation ever built in the popular video game’s Creative Mode. The multiplayer game by Epic Games is popular with Gen Z consumers, who are less likely to be sports fans than millennials who grew up during the massive expansion of the sports industry. Aside from its battle royale gameplay, Fortnite also has hosted a variety of virtual events that draw big audiences. The game last year saw record turnout of 12.3 million attendees to a virtual concert by rapper Travis Scott, who appeared as a massive avatar in the 15-minute performance. With its virtual stadium this year, Verizon can gather people virtually and extend the reach of its programming with livestreams on Twitch and Twitter.

Verizon hasn’t offered a preview of its Super Bowl commercial, though press reports indicate the company will adopt a lighter tone than in past years. In its last three ads during the game, Verizon paid tribute to first responders. Last year’s campaign focused on how 5G technology was expected to change the lives of emergency personnel, football fans and consumers. With people seeking escape from dreary news surrounding the pandemic, Verizon’s commercial this year will focus on showing how the company can bring people together, CNBC reported.

The tone of Verizon’s Super Bowl commercial may be more lighthearted, but the company is still demonstrating its commitment to helping communities with its “Big Concert for Small Business.” The show is part of a decade-long pledge to help 1 million small businesses, many of which have suffered financial hardship during the pandemic. Verizon is donating $10 million to Local Initiatives Support Corp. (LISC), a nonprofit that supports local communities and economies. The effort follows Verizon’s livestreamed concert series that last year included a $2.5 million pledge to LISC and efforts to support small businesses. These initiatives to give back to communities may help to build consumer goodwill toward Verizon’s brand as the company expands 5G service.

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