On-the-Ground at Super Bowl LV
Experience SBLV with daily coverage from Wilson Social Media Specialist Derek Spallone.
It's no secret this year's Super Bowl will be different. Travel restrictions and health concerns are keeping many fans benched on their couches instead of getting in on the action. Luckily, you can live vicariously through Wilson Social Media Specialist Derek Spallone, who will be posting daily recaps right here on the blog. For real-time updates, be sure to follow @wilsonfootball on IG.
Sunday, February 7th:
9 am: Woke up early, super excited, and ready for the festivities!
11 am: Custom SBLV ball post on social, this was a really cool piece of content that we collaborated with an artist one.
12:00 pm: Quick walk outside, around the area. Nice to soak in the Florida weather and vibes, especially before heading back to the cold tomorrow!
2:30 pm: Our season finale of “:55 Seconds of Heat” is posted. In this episode, we featured former Steelers star, Santonio Holmes. He’s well-known for his famous toe-tap touchdown reception at SB XLVIII, which was also at Raymond James Stadium.
2:45 pm: Time for some lunch! We ordered a handful of pizzas at this restaurant and some garlic knots. Had a few drinks, and got ready for gameday!=
4:15 pm: Made it back to the hotel, just in time to catch the mandatory 4:30 shuttle that would take us to the stadium. Everything is starting to set in now!
5:45 pm: We arrive at the stadium. Traffic was insane, but I was able to get our SBLV photo up on social to build some anticipation for the game. Was also able to soak in some of the sights around the area. Most notably, passing my old stomping grounds, One Buc, the home of the Buccaneers and their HQ.
Brought back a lot of memories of seeing the huge red Bucs flag waving and just going down the road towards the stadium.
6:10 pm: We arrive inside Raymond James Stadium. The energy around the stadium was still electric. I was told it would typically be 2-3x even more energetic, but this was still very special. We found our seats, a lovely view. The stadium looked packed, but I believe they only filled 22K seats and the rest were cardboard cutouts of people. This was nice because we essentially stood the whole game and there wasn’t really anyone behind us to say “sit down!” :)
9:15 pm: Game is flowing well, Buccaneers took a solid lead at the half and now it’s time to watch The Weeknd do his thing! He knocked it out of the park with an incredible and impactful 12-minute performance.
10:45 pm: The clock is ready to strike zero and the Buccaneers have become world champions! Their defense was phenomenal and Brady played a perfect game. It was truly a team effort in order to take down a dynamic Chiefs squad.
31-9 the final! Go Bucs!
All in all, it was a tremendous experience and I’m honored that I had the chance to represent Wilson with a handful of my colleagues. Wilson Football grew nearly 13.5K since January 1st, which is incredible considering last year, in total, we grew 23K. A large chunk of that growth coming over the last two weeks.
It’s been a true team effort and I’m super excited for what’s ahead. My take on the Super Bowl experience during COVID? Still an unbelievable experience and opportunity.
Thanks for tuning in all weekend and check out Wilson Football for more content, all year round!
Saturday, February 6th:
8:15 am: Good morning! It’s a beautiful Saturday morning here in Tampa Bay. 60 degrees with an overcast, but it’s time to seize the day!
10 am: Posted the fourth episode of “:55 Seconds of Heat.” In this episode, we featured 2x SB champion, Jarvis Green, formerly of the Patriots. He gave a S/O to his former QB during the piece which was a nice touch!
10:45 am: All changed and hopping in the Uber to downtown Tampa to check out the Super Bowl experience.
Today is a big day since it’s the day before the big game, so a lot of content that is going live today on social, sets the tone for tomorrow. My goal is to try and capture some nice content for the IG Story from the Super Bowl experience and grab some fan POV, etc.
11:30 am: Fan Experience.
We arrived at the event and it was such a cool atmosphere. So many fans from so many different backgrounds.
It was so cool to experience it in person and to see this campus of interactive events. One can only imagine the amount of work it took to put together! Truly incredible.
12:00 pm: Teaser post goes live for The Weeknd x Wilson Football collab ball. The post, (you can see it below), was super cool and built a tonnn of excitement from our audience and The Weekend’s audience.
I ended up posting this while at the fan experience, right after chowing down on my blackened fish sandwich. G and I were super hungry, so that was the first stop when we entered the experience, lunch!
Between the food and the post, the day was off to a great start. Oh, did I mention the weather too?
12:30 pm: Now, we are out and about making our way around the campus. It was nice because we were fortunate to receive these VIP style wristbands that granted us the opportunity to essentially skip the line! Very similar to those fast passes at Six Flags. This came in handy and allowed us to avoid the lonnnnnng lines and made for an even more memorable experience.
1:30: Phone battery is low, need a recharge! I didn’t have my charger or charging pack with me. But then, Ben and Jessica arrived! Fortunately, Jessica had her charging pack and cable and saved the day! There were a ton of charging stations around the experience, but they weren’t the best, understandably, so this came in clutch!
2:00 pm-ish: Still making our way around the campus area, I’m trying to find different content opportunities for our Instagram Story and it brings me back to my days with the Buccaneers and Packers where I ran the Snapchat on gamedays and at community events. It was cool to be back in that element because there were so many different story angles and content opportunities. The goal is to frame everything up as a story, with a beginning, a middle, and an end. What type of experience are you trying to offer your audience?
Sometimes, when you slow down and analyze, it allows you to move faster and with a greater purpose.
(You can see the full story on the Wilson Football IG!)
3 pm: The drop! The Weeknd x Wilson Football collab is officially live! I told the team the ball would sell out in 15 minutes tops. I was wrong, it sold out in 6 MINUTES! A new record, incredible. There were only 55 units available for Wilson and for the XO shop. They went quickly, but the feedback and support were incredible.
3:30 pm: I’m still analyzing everything for Wilson Football based on this collaboration and amazed at how the numbers continued to grow. It was truly a team effort to see this come to fruition. From Eli to Liz to Jessica, Taryn, G, Ada, etc., S/O Team Sports!
4 pm: It’s time to go and end the festivities on a high note. Enjoy the experience and soak it in! The moments go so fast and the time truly flew by. Part of being a social media specialist is well, you are technically always plugged in and often have to look at your phone. So it was nice to actually partake in some of the activities and experiences. This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, so if you don’t slow down and embrace it, it’ll definitely pass you by.
5:30 pm: G and I head to this restaurant down the block, well a little further than down the block :), to meet Ben and his soon-to-be brother in law. Ate some good food, I had a gyro plate, and it was nice to just sit down after being on our feet for about 6-7 hours. Hard work definitely pays off.
7:30 pm: We headed downtown towards the water where the boat is, the pirate ship, time to catch some fireworks!
It was super cool to see the energy and experience the atmosphere. Everyone is super excited for the big game Sunday and it shows.
8:30 pm: 5th episode of “:55 Seconds of Heat” goes live! This one featured the A-Train himself, Mike Alstott.
9:15 pm: Back to the hotel. It’s been a long day, a fulfilling day, but I definitely understand the saying “it’s not a race, it’s a marathon,” now.
11:15 pm: Our guy, Russell Wilson, was just named the Walter Payton Man of the Year award recipient! Got to get a post up to honor Russ! That’s one fire drill that I’ll always be cool with.
Super excited for Sunday, let’s get it!
Friday, February 5th:
7:15 am: I initially set my alarm to wake up at 7:45, but the excitement and anticipation to head to Tampa had me restless. Fortunately, though, I packed the night before. Had my Wilson gear and some Bucs gear ready to go! Can’t forget about the laptop and a phone charger. The true essentials for a social media specialist!
8:40 am: My sister arrives to take me to the airport. S/O big sis for the assist! :)
9:15 am: Arrive at Terminal 1 of O’Hare airport, United Airlines. I haven’t been to the airport since last Thanksgiving, so technically November of 2019. I never truly envisioned flying during the pandemic and up until this trip, was against flying. However, I felt reassured that everything would be ok going into this trip/flying.
9:40 am: Made it through security and found our gate. From there, I was met by our Team Sports Brand Strategist, Geordon Streat. He was on a call, of course, busy man!
9:50 am: Geordon and I walked throughout the airport looking for some food. I woke up early, but forgot (not really, just was too excited), to eat breakfast! We found a spot called “America’s Dog” or something like that haha and ate pretty. The fried egg sandwich was A1!
10:20 am: We headed back towards our gate to prepare for boarding! Around this time, we are met by Senior Marketing Manager, Jessica Konen and shortly after by Global Marketing Manager, Amanda Lamb and General Manager, Kevin Murphy. Squad!
10:50 am: We make our way onto the plane and the adrenaline is flowing! There’s a good chunk of Chiefs fans on the plane since many flew into Chicago as a connection in order to get to Tampa. Right away, I spot a Chiefs fan in the 3rd row and ask “Who are you rooting for?” In which he responds, with a laugh, “The Bucs!” While bursts of laughter and slight comments arise from people nearby. Nothing like stirring up the pot a little early, am I right!?
11:00 am: Locked in my seat, an aisle seat, and ready to take off. Before departure though, I take a look at our content calendar for Wilson Football social. I spent a good chunk of the week making sure everything was aligned leading up to this weekend since there is a lot of content to post daily, looking at 4-5 posts a day. Honestly, this is probably the most daily content we’ve ever had slotted on social, across basketball, volleyball, or football, in my two years at Wilson. But I’m definitely not complaining. It’s a very good problem to have and it essentially started on Tuesday! However, it does force you to be prepared while also maintaining some flexibility.
So after a few last-minute changes that were brought to my attention prior to departing, our first post to kick-off the festivities was these great Madden shots taken from our friend @TheGamingDailyBugle.
These Madden photos always perform exceptionally well, and this rang true once again!
I also had to make sure I got my in-flight selfie in! This is a tradition for me anytime I fly.
11:20 am: After a little delay, it’s finally flight time. Have my Spotify playlist set together featuring some Drake, some J.Cole, The Weeknd (it’s only right), and a little Ozuna among a few other artists. Can’t forget about the SI magazine I brought on-board, too. The cover story? Our guy, Russell Wilson! Talk to you all soon!
2:20 pm: Successfully landed in Tampa, safely.
Smooth flight. It was surreal walking out of the terminal because it brought back memories from my time living in Tampa. For those that don’t know, my working in sports journey essentially began in Tampa in 2017, with the Buccaneers, as their social/digital intern.
So seeing the bird figures on the ceiling and hopping on the little shuttle in the airport that takes you to baggage claim, was cool. We were actually greeted by the Tampa Bay Sports Commission welcoming committee. They cheered for us and built a little path for us to walk through. That was pretty cool!
On top of that, I was just informed by my guy Eli, Associate Marketing Manager, that our social giveaway collaboration request with “The Checkdown” was approved!
3:30 pm or so: We walk outside after getting our bags to the warmth of the Florida air. 75 degrees and I’m soaking in every minute of it, especially after coming from a location in which it is 16 degrees currently.
Jessica, G, and I hop into the Uber and it’s off to the hotel!
A little bit of traffic on the highway as our hotel is in another part of town called Brandon.
It’s now around 4:15 once we get to our hotel, the Sheraton, and check-in. Now we are heading to our respective rooms to get set for dinner with the Wilson team.
5:45 pm: We head to the lobby, and I’m just in the midst of preparing to post about our Bose x Wilson Live challenge on Wilson Football’s social. As I am preparing for that, we are then joined by Ben De La Cruz, Senior Product Line Manager, and a die-hard Bucs fan. We all exchange greetings and then hop in the Uber to our destination for dinner.
7:00 pm: We arrive at our dinner location and it was cool to sit outside during this time of year. A little different than what you’d typically expect back home in Chicago, in regards to dining in an establishment during a pandemic, but it was a cool vibe and the food was delicious.
Can’t remember the name of the restaurant, but the Filet Mignon was.
But during dinner, I had to step aside and get a post up! It was the third episode of our “:55 Seconds of Heat” episode. In this installment, we highlighted Former Bucs great and Super Bowl champion, Simeon Rice.
The purpose behind “:55 Seconds of Heat” is to highlight former Super Bowl champions on either the Bucs or Chiefs, in addition to Bucs or Chiefs fans, and get their perspective on their most memorable Super Bowl moment or moment from this season. It’s 55 seconds in honor of the 55th Super Bowl.
10/10:30 pm: We arrive back at our hotel and it’s time to get some sleep. We have a big day tomorrow! It’s supposed to rain in the afternoon, but the Super Bowl experience is a must and really my best opportunity to grab content for the Wilson Football social channels.
We also have a big collaboration dropping tomorrow too, on the football side, so have to stay locked in for that! See you guys Saturday!
My name is Derek Spallone, and I oversee our Basketball, Football, and Volleyball social accounts/campaigns. Before Wilson, I was fortunate to work with the Chicago Wolves, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and Green Bay Packers in the social/digital space. I am also active in the broadcast/sports media world. I have been blessed to interview athletes such as NBA legend Julius Erving, Isiah Thomas, Derrick Rose, Stephen Curry, Todd Gurley, and Javier Báez, among others. My passion is telling stories and finding ways to bring our audience closer to the Wilson brand.