As a result of this boom, we achieved major successes such as convincing the NFL to have its biggest event here in February of 2018. The Bold North theme artfully articulated by Minnesota Super Bowl LII Host Committee co-chairs Marilyn Carlson Nelson and Richard Davis to the 32 NFL franchise owners and NFL staff during the bid presentation made no apologies for winter. And the rest, as they say, is history.
Many of us felt that convincing a customer like the NFL to come here in February would magically make winter cool for the rest of the free world and we would be able to quickly address one of our most complex marketing challenges: how do we attract more visitors to our area in the first quarter of the year? But the rest of the world didn’t seem to get the memo or text or IM. And, some of our friends in the national media (I’m talking to you, Al Roker) didn’t suddenly become advocates for Minnesota as a winter wonderland. At the same time, the winter “science experiments” we often see on YouTube are sometimes clever, but serve to reinforce the very message we are trying to change.
Check out this link to see how both our locals and our buddy Al still treat winter as a bone-chilling, challenging experience in Minnesota. It makes for fun viewing, but the long-held views many folks from other places have about winter have always set us back in our marketing efforts. Now there’s a big effort to change that perception.
You may have heard by now that some local entrepreneurs and event organizers have taken the thermometer by the bulb and organized The Great Northern, festival that will celebrate winter in Minneapolis and St. Paul starting in January of 2107. It was vital for the organizers to commence this new event in 2017 so that when the Super Bowl is here in 2018, the event will have its own identity and not be overshadowed by the NFL machine. The Saint Paul Winter Carnival, City of Lakes Loppet and the U.S. Pond Hockey Championships are the anchor events along with a plethora of other sport, culinary and arts events. The Great Northern organizers boldly state that winter is not a season we should hide from or apologize for.
The true spirit of cooperation among the organizers is evident as each of the signature events has its own history and set of priorities and have all agreed to be under one marketing banner and the same 10 day activation period. Those business and civic leaders from both Minneapolis and St. Paul include:
- Rosanne Bump – President and CEO, Saint Paul Winter Carnival
- Eric Dayton – Principal, North Corp
- Steve Dietz – Founder and President, Northern Spark
- Carson Kipfer – Co-Commissioner, U.S. Pond Hockey Championships
- John Munger – Executive Director, The Loppet Foundation
- Andrew Zimmern – Founder, Food Works, Inc.
And in case you’re wondering, Eric Dayton is also the founder of the Skyway Avoidance Society, an organization that encourages us to sign the following pledge:
“I, the undersigned, hereby declare my commitment to avoid using the skyway system at all times and in all conditions. I am a proud resident of the North and believe that our seasons are to be celebrated. I make this pledge for the health and vitality of my city, and for my own well-being.”
Debate as you will, the virtues or failures of our skyway system, but Eric and his colleagues have launched a major new event that challenges us all to rethink how we view winter. I can’t wait to take Al Roker and his NBC colleagues who will be here to broadcast Super Bowl LII to the Great Northern. Bundle up, Al, and don’t forget your thermals!