What The Super Bowl Halftime Show Can Teach Us About Throwing Better Events

Posted by Chris Kapsalis / January 30

The following link is to a Fast Company interview with Hamish Hamilton, the director of the past 6 Super Bowl Halftime Shows as well as countless Oscars, VMAs and Grammy shows.  In it he outlines 5 key lessons for producing the biggest show on earth.  

While the typical experiential event productions are not on the scale of the halftime show or the Oscars, a lot can be learned by remembering Mr. Hamilton's 5 key lessons.  While it's tough to draw a direct correlation, here are a few thoughts on they might apply to our business and our events.

Lesson 1: Mind the Tunnel – When developing concepts we always need to be cognizant of where they will manifest.  Sometimes where we are executing should drive the idea as much or more than what we are trying to execute.

Lesson 2: It's all about the TV – This one is, or should be, very relatable to our work.  Ok, so we will never get 1 billion global viewers of one of our events but we still need to be content-centric in our executions.  We need to think about how what we are doing will play out in social channels, PR or on someone’s Facebook feed.  Most experiential events only have one or two thousand people at most in attendance so even if they all go out and buy the product we are promoting the next day we won't drive lasting brand success.  However, if the content we generate from that event is compelling and relevant enough that hundreds of thousands of people view it we will create an impact far beyond the people we touched.

Lesson 3:  The Star is the Star -  Again, we aren't usually working with Katy Perry, U2 or Madonna but all of our events have a star - a centerpiece around which the rest of the experience orbits.  In our work it might be a bartender, a chef, or even the product itself.  We should make sure we keep the star the center of the activity – pre, during and post event. 

Lesson 4: Script Every Moment and Stay Calm because Sh*t Happens – This one requires little additional explanation.  There is no substitute for great planning and back up planning and backing up the back up plan, save for the ability to remain operationally flexible enough to handle what ever bomb karma throws your way.  Iron Mike said it best…"everyone has a plan until they get punched in the face”.

Lesson 5:  Embrace the Chaos – If you want calm go produce print ads or tv spots where you keep editing until you get it right.  Our business is live and you get one chance to make it right.  Understand and embrace that and you will go far in this business.  Make your clients understand and embrace it and you'll both be a lot 

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Chris Kapsalis
Chris Kapsalis
EVP, General Manager
chris.kapsalis [at] legacymp.com