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Ever wonder what goes into throwing a major Super Bowl party? Yeah, probably not, but actually it's pretty interesting. This is big business, and a year-long enterprise for some.

To most people down here, the parties are way more important than the game itself. It's a marketing and branding bonanza, with everyone from P. Diddy, to John Travolta to Penthouse to ESPN in on the act. The corporate sponsors are everywhere - this pool-side lounge chair is brought to you by ... - and for their marketing and publicity arms, putting on the biggest and baddest Super Bowl party consumes a big chunk of their year.

Tricia Austin, the VP of marketing for Penthouse, said prep work for this Saturday's party began two weeks after last year's Super Bowl party in Detroit. The annual Super Bowl party is right at the top of the most important things the magazine's marketers do, and she figures about 60 people work months to get all the details right.

Why all the fuss? Simple economics, people.

"You need to have a strong presence at the Super Bowl," Austin said. "No other event allows you to capture the crucial male demographic."

Football. Beer. Models. Music. Pretty much sums up the male species.

So all of these companies/celebrities are trying to out-do the next guy. Most of the big stuff is going down Saturday night. So people like Tricia have to nail down the best location, best entertainment (she got Snoop Dogg), best guest list. Most companies expect to spend about $1 million for this night of revelry, and tickets to some parties are going in the $5,000 range on Ebay.

Jacob York, whose marketing firm (Jacob York Presents) specializes in just this sort of party planning, is handling P Diddy's parties this weekend, and said the party will probably turn a modest profit when all is said and done (about $150,000 he estimates), but the real goal is to make people leave South Beach convinced there ain't no party like a Diddy party (although his track record should speak for itself at this point with his shindigs in the Hamptons, on the French Riviera, etc).

York said Diddy is intimately involved in the project (he's a bit obsessive about the details), and the phone calls from the mogul's assistant are nonstop, and start months before the NFL playoffs get going.

"We've been working together for a long time, so he trusts that the event is going to be done to the caliber he's used to," York said. "But he's still hands on calling. ''Is this ready? How this going? How's that? Call the florist and make sure the flower arrangements are correct.' He's been doing this a long time, and he knows all of that stuff is important."

Diddy has basically taken over South Florida. Friday, there's 12 Hours of Diddy, a party at one club from 10 pm until whenever. Seriously. "We'll be going until the last person decides to stagger uut of there," York said. On Saturday, Diddy and actor Terrence Howard are throwing a party at a new venue called Chakra, the most expensive club ever built down here. York had to out-bid some other heavy hitters to get the place Saturday night, but Diddy had to have thos spot, with a 30-fott waterfall, private glass skybox, terrace that overlooks the Atlantic Ocean, and top cuisine. It should be pretty wild. (I think they'll let me inside for a while, Saturday night).

The Playboy Party has gotten so big it took over American Airlines Arena, but Penthouse wanted something that felt a little more quaint, if partying with 2,000 strangers can ever feel like that. Their site, the Mansion, can hold 2,500 people, but they want people to have room to breather, so they've capped it at two-gs. (We made the cut).

In an area as confined as Miami Beach, there are only so many venues to go around, so this Super Bowl was crazy competitive to land the best facilities, lighting, caterers, etc. Tricia said about 60 people in all worked pretty much fulltime getting their party ready. Most of the people I spoke said the ideal ration is about half VIPs, and half wanna-be VIPs, who spend thousands to purchase tickets and hobnob with the truly rich and famous.

Getting the right celebs to come to your party takes a fair amount of swag as well - no one leaves empty handed. I've never been to one of these things before, so plan on hopping to several of them Saturday, all in nothing but my dutiful service to the blog. It's a dirty job but ...

By Jason La Canfora  |  January 31, 2007; 3:30 PM ET
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