Las Vegas Strip

As Las Vegas Bets on Big Sporting Events, Brands and Agencies Offer Tips for Activating in the City

“The benefit of activating in Las Vegas is that it puts on the largest events all the time, so everything is a very well-oiled machine in the sense that partners already know how to work together.”

–Molly Spychalski, Head of Brand Partnership Marketing, Uber

CBS Sports Installation at Bellagio

CBS Sports branding was all over the Strip for the Super Bowl, particularly in front of the Bellagio for live broadcasts.

Las Vegas has long been known as Sin City, but lately, the city has vied for the moniker of “Sports and Entertainment Capital of the World,” particularly leaning into sports. In 2023, Vegas hosted two landmark sporting events: the NCAA men’s basketball tournament and the inaugural Formula 1 Las Vegas Grand Prix. March Madness blew into town for the first time in the event’s history for two Sweet 16 games and an Elite Eight matchup, while in November, Formula 1 literally took over the Strip overnight. In February, Super Bowl LVIII brought in an estimated 450,000 visitors and an economic impact of $1.1 billion, with 300 events taking place across the city in the days leading up to the Big Game at Allegiant Stadium.

Looking farther back, this sports focus for the city has been an almost decade-long evolution, as 2016 saw the opening of T-Mobile Arena, a state-of-the-art venue designed with professional sports in mind. The Golden Knights has called the arena home since its founding in 2017, when it became the first major sports franchise to represent Las Vegas, and in its first season, the NHL team reached the Stanley Cup Finals, eventually winning the championship last year.


Hoping to build off the pro sports hype, Vegas has gone all in to bring pro leagues to the city, with the NFL’s Las Vegas Raiders move in 2020 and the MLB’s Oakland Athletics planning to relocate as early as the 2028 season. Just this week, the Tropicana Las Vegas casino resort closed its doors for good to make way for a 33,000-seat domed stadium for the soon-to-be-rebranded baseball team.

Athletics Las Vegas Ballpark

The A’s new ballpark in Las Vegas will feature a tiered design and a roof with five overlapping layers, open to the north to allow for natural light and views up the Strip, while also limiting direct sunlight from the south. (Credit: Athletics)

And not forgetting Las Vegas is a conference and meetings hub (welcoming 6 million convention attendees over the last year), the city has the centralized infrastructure to host large-scale events, with plenty of hotels, convention centers, restaurants, bars and entertainment venues to accommodate the year-round influx of tourists and business professionals. As Vegas’ reputation grows beyond its “adult playground” identity, brands are keen to activate around the city’s expanding sporting event and festival calendar to drive awareness and consumer engagement.

With the dust settled on this year’s Super Bowl, we asked several brand marketers and agency executives to reflect on their recent experiences activating in Las Vegas and to share their perspectives for successfully navigating the planning, local approvals and excitement on the ground. Below, we rounded up their top eight tips.


Take advantage of Vegas’ events expertise.


Uber Eats’ pop-up shop drew a long line of NFL fans looking to walk through stands and shelves of fake food and beverage products.

Uber Eats touched down in Las Vegas for its first activation at the Super Bowl Experience. The Get Almost Almost Anything Shop brought app-based deliveries to life with a multiroom pop-up grocery store on the show floor of the Mandalay Bay South Convention Center. Molly Spychalski, head of brand partnership marketing at Uber, says Las Vegas comes with its own nuances and competition from many brands that are activating around a major event like Super Bowl. For the Uber team, it was all about learning from the city’s established knowledge base to find the right footing for the location parameters.

“The benefit of activating in Las Vegas is that it puts on the largest events all the time, so everything is a very well-oiled machine in the sense that partners already know how to work together,” she says. “From a behind-the-scenes production perspective, I think it lent itself really well to seamless conversations because Vegas knows how to do this.”

Stephen Kipp, evp-events and brand experiences at Paramount, found Las Vegas to be a nimble city built for production when the team was preparing Paramount’s Expedition Vegas activation on Las Vegas Boulevard ahead of the Big Game.

“One of the benefits is that they’re at the ready,” he says. “They’re ready to move and change as they need to, to be able to make this happen.”

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Paramount’s Expedition Vegas took participants on a journey through the brand’s movies and shows in five different themed vignettes. (Credit: Scott Clark Photography)

AGENC, the bicoastal experiential agency behind the project, spent more than three weeks on-site at The Mirage to set up Paramount Mountain’s expansive 30,000-square-foot build, one of the largest projects in its 20-year history. Cara Kleinhaut, founder of AGENC, points to Vegas’ high foot traffic and visibility as two of its success markers.

“I think Vegas has always been very event-friendly, experiential-friendly and big production-friendly with the amount of convention spaces available, and it’s only going to continue,” she says. “It’s exciting because we’re not an afterthought or an inconvenience like we are in other cities, where we’re begging venues to let us take over. Events are very much the heartbeat of the city, which knows how to move people around.”


Lean on local staff and contacts.

Kleinhaut also says that having the right team on the ground, no matter the location, is key, particularly if they work well with local governments to move approvals and projects along. With Las Vegas so focused on the Formula 1 grand prix in November, three months ahead of the Super Bowl, Paramount and AGENC ran into a slowdown obtaining city approvals on elements of Paramount Mountain, which is where the agency’s list of contacts that has grown through the years helped the process.

“From a planning perspective with zoning departments and city approvals, they were coming off of F1, but also that did, to an extent, start to make them more familiar with some of these temporary builds and make them ready for the onslaught of approvals that were going to be submitted,” says Graham Fugazzi, AGENC’s director of production. “We had a great team in place that helped with expediting our process and was able to guide some of those conversations, get those approvals in the works and tee up that things were going to change over the course of the coming months—changes in IP, creative and design.”

Formula 1 heineken silver Grand Prix Las Vegas 2023_pit stop challenge

Formula 1 invited fans to try their skills in the Pitstop Challenge, where teams raced to replace the tires on F1-style cars, among other brand experiences available during the inaugural Las Vegas Grand Prix.

Luke Beischel, co-founder of Fruit Studio, an L.A.-based design and production agency, counts Las Vegas as one of the best cities to activate in due to its event-focused infrastructure, convention halls, high production value and engaged pool of local brand ambassadors who “do this all the time.” Fruit Studio worked on Invisalign’s booth at the Super Bowl Experience, and Beischel credits the local staff for running a smooth operation at the fan event.

“Having a great team is immeasurable, so it’s important to make sure we have the time to get the right people involved,” he says. “It’s also really expensive to travel people, so we very often rely on locals to help run the actual booth. Vegas has made it a lot easier to do that.”


Budget for higher prices.

When Marriott activated at the Formula 1 Las Vegas Grand Prix, which is contracted to race on the Strip through 2025, the brand relied on experiential partners to navigate timelines, locations and budgeting, while managing internal expectations to ensure its programming would accomplish goals and deliver a return on investment, says Tonia Constable, vp-global marketing partnerships: sports, entertainment and brands at Marriott International.

“You have to take a step back and think about the first time that these large sporting events go into a market; you always want to be a little cautionary because you’re not 100 percent sure how it’s going to play out,” she says. “Formula 1 is a little different because they obviously had to shut down the boulevard and build the track for 12 days. We didn’t have that with Super Bowl, but to that end, when you have so many people descending upon a market, there’s pricing issues. Price goes up for everything you want to do. Yes, Vegas has a lot of hotels, but rooms become very high-demand. Transportation, moving people around, becomes a big expense.”


Start scouting locations and sourcing resources early.

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Attendees had the chance to virtually summit Paramount Mountain through a 4D-simulated gondola experience. (Credit: Scott Clark Photography)

A year in advance of Super Bowl LVIII, the Paramount team arrived in Las Vegas, fresh off of 2023’s Super Bowl in Arizona, ready to conduct a site survey to meet a variety of needs across the company tied to the CBS Sports broadcast of the Big Game and its four-day consumer activation.

“Because around the Super Bowl and big events like that, there’s a run on any item that you want—platforming or speakers or lighting—it really is about getting ahead of it. That’s the trick,” Kipp says.

Fugazzi spent 39 days in Vegas preparing for the opening of the Paramount activation, made up of a showcase of more than 12 show and movie IPs, a 4D “Adventure to the Peak” gondola ride and the signature mountain centerpiece built with 45,000 pounds of material. Following several site visits of location options, AGENC and Paramount settled on The Mirage Volcano, which gave them a starting point for the mountain, right in the hotel’s front yard, and a platform over its lake. AGENC’s engineers and staging supervisor were pulled in for their experience with large-scale builds to develop drawings and engineering plans around the Volcano, which was no small feat.

“Having to do this over the lagoon of The Mirage and getting that space granted to us, we had to get land use attorneys involved and had to work with The Mirage to get approvals to use their space in general,” Fugazzi says. “We had to do extensive engineering and site surveys of the lagoon itself because very rarely have they drained it for anything, and we needed that done to be able to pull this off in the timeline we had.”

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Paramount stopped traffic with the biggest installation on the Las Vegas Strip, taking over a block in front The Mirage. (Credit: Scott Clark Photography)


Choose a venue that amplifies brand messaging.

It was hard to miss the iconic, snow-tipped Paramount Mountain that replaced the long-standing Mirage Volcano, which could be seen from nearby hotels, walkways and passing cars. The brand capitalized on the heavily trafficked location on the Strip by enclosing its block-long footprint with blue Paramount-branded fencing that drew the attention of curious consumers.

“When we were on-site, as we were starting to build out the activation, people walking down the boulevard were asking through our fence, ‘Hey, is this where the gondola ride is going to be?’ or ‘What is this activation?’” Fugazzi says. “It diverted them into all the other fun possibilities that were inside of the activation and was an entertaining, constant conversation that we had with passersby.”

North of The Mirage, furniture brand Ashley set up its five-day Ashley House activation at Resorts World Las Vegas’ sports bar Dawg House Saloon and Sportsbook (FlyteVu handled). One reason Ashley chose Resorts World as its pop-up venue was the media amplification through the West Tower Screen, one of the country’s largest LED screens, spanning 100,000 square feet across the front façade of the hotel. A 30-second spot on Ashley and its entertainment lineup ran on the screen during the week leading up to the Super Bowl.

“Overall, Resorts World is a newer hotel on the Strip that’s super popular with the type of consumers we were trying to attract—millennials and Gen Z—and wanted to capitalize on some of that passerby traffic, promoting the Ashley brand being in Vegas on their LED screen out front,” says Alexa Richardson, director-brand activation and field marketing at Ashley Global Retail.

Ashley House_Resorts World Las Vegas_Super Bowl 58_Building exterior OOH Ads

Resorts World’s West Tower Screen, one of the country’s largest LED screens, allowed Ashley to amplify its brand and entertainment programming. (Credit: Ashley)


Cater to the adult consumer demographic.

The 21-plus crowd still reigns supreme in Las Vegas, and Ashley didn’t shy away from targeting adult consumers with its evening concert lineup of country music performances, even though the Super Bowl is considered more of an all-ages, family-friendly event.

“Going into it, we did a lot of demographic research and found that the NFL had been tailoring a lot of its fan experiences more toward a family focus. We knew that Vegas was special in the sense that it most likely would not be like that and did find that to be true on-site, so we tailored our experiential approach to be more toward the 21-and-over consumer,” Richardson says. “We felt more comfortable activating in a bar space knowing that it was Vegas compared to some other markets where we might activate.”


Bring in local celebrities and talent.

A big draw for events is the chance to enjoy performances or see celebrities, and Fruit Studio’s Beischel says a way to stand out is by scheduling local talent appearances and meet-and-greets in the activation space.

“There’s a lot of brand noise in Vegas already with a lot of permanent attractions, so it’s always a fun challenge for us to make sure that brands stand out,” he says. “We love redesigning for the environment that we’re in, so for Invisalign, the booth was very inspired by Vegas and having a focus on bringing out local talent, like Raiders players and the head coach.”

Invisalign booth at Super Bowl Experience

Giving fans something to smile about, Invisalign brought in current and former NFL players and coaches like Jamaal Charles of the Kansas City Chiefs, Aaron Jones of the Green Bay Packers and Antonio Pierce of the Las Vegas Raiders for meet-and-greet and autograph sessions.


Give back to the host city.

After wrapping up an activation, brands can donate materials to local organizations, like Reddit, which donated the custom-fabricated flat walls from its CES 2023 pop-up at the Wynn Las Vegas to Habitat for Humanity post-event. As a thank-you for their efforts keeping the city safe throughout the week leading up to the Super Bowl, Ashley gave back to the Vegas community by donating all the furniture from Ashley House to local first responders.

Featured image credit: Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority

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