The hotel on Convention Center Boulevard will become the Bud Light Hotel for the Super Bowl weekend.
When Super Bowl XLVII comes to New Orleans on February 3, it will do so with an avalanche of corporate activity that will stretch from the French Quarter to the Convention Center, which will house the NFL Experience. Anheuser-Busch will draw attention to Bud Light in a major way. Starting on Thursday, January 31, the Wyndham Riverfront Hotel will be remade into the Bud Light Hotel. It will undergo a temporary facelift as its entrance facing Convention Center Boulevard will be closed in to create a lounge complete with a DJ, and guests will enter through its Fulton Street entrance. A walkway will be built over Convention Center Boulevard to connect the hotel to the Bud Light Fan Camp and the tented performance venue in the parking lot across the street. That venue will hold 750 VIPs and another 3,000 general admission patrons for concerts and special events.
According to Tom Kraus, senior brand manager for Bud Light, this is the fourth year for the Bud Light Hotel. They've done it in the host cities for the last three Super Bowls, but this will be the most ambitious yet. "Two years ago, we became the official beer sponsor of the NFL," he says. "Because of that partnership, the Bud Light Hotel has taken on new meaning. We're at the center of all the NFL activity. We're two blocks down from the Convention Center, and they're going to have a ton of things going on."
A highlight will be Madden Bowl on the 31st, the Bud Light Hotel's opening night. Last year, the team of Drew Brees, Jimmy Graham and Tim Tebow won, and Bud Light has once again partnered with EA Sports to present NFL players squaring off against each other on Madden, the popular football videogame franchise. "They bring in players to compete against each other; they bring in artists and a bunch of different celebrities," Kraus says. "It really becomes the place to go on Thursday night."
Strictly speaking, the events are invitation-only, but fans can win tickets through giveaways at retail locations and on radio, and events will be live-streamed as well. For the second year in a row, Bud Light is also encouraging fans on Facebook to upload videos of themselves that demonstrate their correspondent skills, and one will be selected to be Bud Light's Facebook correspondent to cover the events from New Orleans.
Kraus can't put a number on the economic impact to the city of the Bud Light Hotel and the related activities, but "It is Bud Light's number one priority from a marketing perspective," he says. They go so far with the hotel concept that they not only transform the Wyndham Riverfront's facade, but they'll replace the Wyndham's soaps, pillows and hand towels with Bud Light-branded versions.
Although they're changing the look of a street, Kraus says Anheuser-Busch tries to be sympathetic to the local market. "We always partner with the host committee to make sure that what we're doing is in line with their vision for a local market," he says. "We also have local distributors in the marketplace that sell our product to the local retailers, and we use their expertise and knowledge of the marketplace to make sure we're capturing the right themes and going to the right locations to make sure that the city and Bud Light can win with this event."