The MSG Sphere Unveils Immense Marketing Opportunities at a High Cost
If you’ve been surfing the internet lately, there’s a good chance you’ve come across awe-inspiring footage of a colossal, radiant structure that has recently graced the Las Vegas skyline. It resembles something straight out of a science fiction movie, akin to an intergalactic party vessel that has descended upon Earth. Officially known as the Sphere at the Venetian Resort, it is more commonly referred to as the MSG Sphere, owing its name to its contractor, Madison Square Garden. However, most people simply call it “the Sphere,” and it has set social media abuzz with excitement.
Although technically not a perfect sphere but rather a dome, this latest addition to Las Vegas is undeniably a marvel. Five years in the making, standing at a towering height of 366 feet, and carrying a staggering construction cost of approximately $2.3 billion, the Sphere boasts a seating capacity of around 17,000 individuals. Its exterior is composed of a mind-boggling 1.2 million small LED discs, each just a few inches in diameter, capable of displaying a mesmerizing spectrum of colors individually. The Sphere stands as both a triumph of engineering and a whimsical addition to the already surreal Las Vegas landscape, which includes a pyramid, a replica of the Eiffel Tower, and colossal choreographed fountains.
Footage from the recent opening concert of U2’s 25-show residency held within the Sphere paints a picture of an experience somewhere between an IMAX theater and a holographic rendition of the Sistine Chapel. While the stage may be relatively modest in size, the massive spectacle of lights hovering in every direction over concertgoers suggests that a performance here is more about the visual extravaganza than the music itself.
A New Frontier for Out-of-Home Advertising?
However, what’s been capturing the most attention online and sparking excitement in the marketing industry is the Sphere’s exterior, affectionately dubbed the “Exosphere.” Reportedly, it is the largest LED screen on Earth. Recent aerial footage showcases this colossal screen illuminated with moving images that range from psychedelic, Tame Impala-esque patterns to, somewhat disconcertingly, a giant blinking eyeball.
When it comes to advertising on the Sphere, there’s good news and bad news.
The good news is that the Sphere offers an unparalleled opportunity for advertisers. An advertisement displayed on the Sphere’s outer surface is virtually impossible for Las Vegas motorists and pedestrians to ignore, much like an ad projected onto the surface of a full moon on a clear night. Moreover, such an advertisement has a strong chance of going viral online, particularly during these initial days when the Sphere is still a novelty.
Lina Maggi, the head of Out-of-Home (OOH) at BCN Visuals, a 3D anamorphic advertising company, expressed, “The Sphere is a super unique canvas that’s forcing brands to think outside of the standard OOH deliverable to truly ‘wow’ audiences from hotel rooms in Vegas to social videos all around the globe.” However, she did not disclose specific details about her company’s upcoming campaign set to launch on the Sphere on October 19.
The bad news, unfortunately, is that the costs associated with advertising on the Sphere are equally massive. While official figures are yet to be released, a leaked pitch deck from user @PitchDeckGuy, formerly associated with Twitter, reveals that a one-day ad takeover of the Sphere comes with a price tag of $450,000, while a one-week run costs a staggering $650,000.
The leaked deck also provides estimated daily impressions for an ad displayed on the Sphere: 300,000 in-person and 4.4 million on social media. Undoubtedly, this represents a tremendous level of exposure, with the pitch deck even promising that “Featured content will attract crowds similar to the Bellagio’s Fountain.” Nevertheless, the high cost makes it a feasible option only for the most deep-pocketed of brands.
For those fortunate enough to afford it, the next four months present a promising period for advertising on the Sphere, as Las Vegas is set to host a Formula One event next month, the NBA In-Season Tournament in December, as well as the 2024 Super Bowl.
Image Source: Cory Doctorow