By Mike Wilkening, ARC Communications Manager
Recently, we visited several Chicagoland-area stores to get a snapshot of how brands and retailers are readying for Super Bowl 58.
Here is a taste of what we saw.
Scene No. 1: Memories of Wedding Receptions Past
I went looking for Super Bowl-related displays. Above, you can see a Super Bowl logo. That’s what caught my eye initially.
Then, I saw the “Classic Then, Iconic Now” flyer in the center, and I saw the two sevens — one red, one green.
Ah yes, the 7 & 7. A classic. Seagram’s 7 Crown blended whiskey and 7UP lemon-lime soda. Six parts soda, one part whiskey, over ice, as this recipe suggests.
But who measures a 7&7 other than by sight? LOL, as the kids say.
Anyways, this display, encountered at a Jewel in Chicago’s northwestern suburbs, got me in the feels. It’s been years since I’ve had a 7&7. It’s the quintessential highball, a drink every bartender knows how to make and one you can’t really mess up, whether it’s at a wedding reception, a bowling alley, a local tavern, a golf clubhouse, someone’s basement bar.
This display was to the right of the large beer coolers found in the back of most Jewel liquor sections, a perfect place to entice an impulse buy. And surely it will stir nostalgia shoppers of a certain age.
I didn’t buy any Seagram’s on this trip, but I did consider it, and I was heartened to see it. It’s always nice to catch up with an old friend.
Scene No. 2: The Beer Buildup
Let’s stay on the subject of nostalgia.
I’m fond of Binny’s, the Midwest-based liquor superstore with 45+ Illinois locations. One reason I like it so much is it reminds me of my dad, who drank sparingly but delighted in stocking his home liquor cabinet with only the best for his guests, as well as his mooch of a son.
Dad passed years ago, but his Binny’s rewards card, tied to a long-gone phone number, remains active, and every so often I’ll put a purchase under his name, just to keep him alive in the system. It’s the little things in life.
So I like Binny’s, and we know the Binny’s near our home in the northwest suburbs well. The cold beer is toward the back of the store, with cases stacked for easy loading into the cart.
What stood out on this trip, more than a week before the Super Bowl, was the height — and volume — of displays. As you can see above, 15 Miller Lite 24-packs were stacked atop each other here. It was akin to a beer fort.
Beer was not our dad’s thing, but if he knew a guest liked a particular label, he would buy four times as much as he needed. So he would have appreciated this display. He always went big, and no one went hungry or thirsty when he threw a party.
Scene No. 3: Leaving Nothing to Chance
The Super Bowl is not about small gestures, or being subtle.
Walking into the Jewel referenced earlier, I encountered this massive PepsiCo.-Frito Lay display: four columns of chips and dips, four columns of sodas.
In football terms, there was no punting on 4th-and-1 here. This was a move to win your snacking big-game allegiance right now — end it here, cross the potato chips and pop off the list, and move on to whatever else was needed.
In the event that didn’t catch the eye, there was this even bigger Pepsi-Frito Lay display to the left to shoppers as they entered the store.
Scene No. 4: Kroger’s Tower of Chips
I certainly wasn’t going to visit only a Jewel (Albertsons) without seeing what Mariano’s (Kroger) had in-store for Super Bowl 58. These two chains dominate Chicagoland, with Mariano’s having a good deal of its DNA from the late, great Dominick’s.
I didn’t see a lot of Super Bowl displays at Mariano’s in my first visit late last week, but I gave it another try Tuesday morning, and to my delight, an employee was unboxing Frito-Lay chips at the rear of the store.
Were these for the Super Bowl? Yes, he smiled.
This display looked somewhat similar to the Jewel display, with a couple rows of chips atop a row of dips, perfect for grabbing one, then the other.
I didn’t stay to see the construction to completion, but this Mariano’s is but a few blocks away from the household, and with two growing kids, we tend to run out of milk — a lot. So I’ll back soon, with an eye on seeing if this location has helmet balloons for the Super Bowl teams like it did two years for Bengals-Rams.
And if I need chips, I’ll know where to find them.
Scene 5: Time for Wine
Something I did not know: Barefoot is the NFL’s wine partner, and the company has a host of Super Bowl-related marketing. I’d guess having the NFL shield on your branding — expensive as it is to garner — would be a wonderful asset to have in the days ahead. I saw Barefoot displays like this both at Mariano’s, as well as Binny’s (seen below).
Only Taylor Swift’s blessing might be worth more. Check that. We don’t need the “might be worth more” qualifier.
From all of us at the Retail Space Planning Community: enjoy the Super Bowl. May your chips be crisp, your drink of choice cold, and your prop bets on Travis Kelce proposing to Ms. Swift at game’s end winners.
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About the Author: Mike Wilkening, Communications Manager, for the Association of Retail and Consumer Professionals (ARC).
Mike brings more than two decades of communications experience to the CMA/SIMA. He began his career in journalism, spending more than 10 years covering the National Football League for Pro Football Weekly and NBC’s Pro Football Talk. His bylines have also appeared in CBS MarketWatch, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, NBC New York, and ESPN.com. More recently, he has pivoted to corporate communications, including strategy and messaging experience for a Fortune 500 company. Mike holds a master’s degree in journalism from Northwestern University and a bachelor’s degree in accounting from the University of Illinois.