Last weekend I had the chance to spend time with some of my favorite people in one of my favorite cities.
LG is a major sponsor of the yearly NCAA Final Four and this year brought myself, Brad Powell and Jeff Sass to New Orleans to be their guests for the weekend. I need to give their entire team a huge thank you for showing us such great hospitality and I look forward to where this relationship goes because it felt like the start of something pretty cool.
I hit the airport on Saturday morning. I had a connection in Charlotte and as I waited to board I noticed Jeff check in to the airport. Turns out that we were on the same connecting flight and actually sitting next to each other. This was the first of many surprises that the weekend held.
When LG reached out to us about the weekend I have to admit that I was a bit dissapointed.
They made it clear that we’d be getting exposure to the products, meet the team and be shown a good time, but we would not be going to the actual basketball games. For a fan like me this was a major tease, but I was ok with it since it would mean a weekend with friends and plus I knew very little about LG except that they made my washer and dryer. I was curious to see what else they had going on.
We’d be watching the games on some of their new 3D televisions that not only do native 3D but can upscale any content to be 3D. This sounded cool to me, although I was a bit skeptical.
I checked into the International House Hotel and had just enough time to drop my bags before we were scheduled to meet the LG mobile team. They gave us each an LG Nitro to try for the weekend. As an iPhone guy I was looking forward to trying out Android for the weekend since I hadn’t really kicked the tires all that much on the newest versions.
The LG Nitro is an amazing phone. It has easily the best screen I’ve ever seen on a phone. It is big, bright and amazingly clear. I found out that the technology used in their televisions was put into the phone which is why it is so much better than other phone screens.
The other thing I noticed about the phone was how light it was. I’d learn later that it is also extremely durable and can take quite a beating. The only complaint I had was how fast the battery drained. It was so fast that it made it impractical to use, but thanks to a helpful local LG employee we learned that this only happens if you don’t charge with the provided charger. After the first day and charging it with the LG charger the battery lasted longer than I expected and certainly lasted longer than my iPhone.
The energy in New Orleans was amazing. Every where you looked you’d see the red and blue of the final four teams and being the rabid fans that they are, you had no question who people were rooting for.
We went to a CBS pre-game party at Manning’s (owned by the father of the football superstars) and got to meet more of the team. We also got to snack on fried catfish and sweet duck wings. After all, if you are in New Orleans you know you are going to eat great!
This is when we were surprised to find out that we were going to the games. They handed us tickets and we boarded buses with the rest of the LG team. As if that wasn’t cool enough, we had a police escort to the stadium. It was a trip to fly down the main street directly to the stadium as we passed the 73,000 other fans headed to the game.
I’ve been to plenty of sporting events in my time, but walking into the Superdome for the first time was mind blowing. The colors, sounds and people everywhere hit all the senses. It was then that I realized I had never been inside a dome for a game. It was so loud when people got cheering. I can’t even imagine what it must be like during a Saints game.
The games were a ton of fun. Especially since Sass isn’t that much of a fan and was asking questions about the mascots with questions like, “Which team is the monkey for?” (the Buckeye) or “The woodpeckers?” (the Jayhawk).
Seeing a Final Four was something I never thought I’d actually do in my life and now I can say I’ve seen it. Guess I should put seeing a Superbowl on my bucket list since that is the only bigger sporting event I can imagine seeing.
Besides the games going on, there is also a huge event known as Bracket Town happening whenever there is a final four. We got to spend time there walking around and seeing all the booths that were set up.
Lots of brands including Coke Zero, Allstate and the Cartoon Network had experiences set up. It was a cost affordable family outing and since it was the weekend it was obvious that people were coming out to check it out. My favorite thing was that the purpose was to highlight all the different NCAA sports. Kids could learn about everything from fencing, to hockey to even lacrosse which I was personally psyched to see represented.
LG had a large area set up and what amazed me was that they seemed to be the only sponsor focused on showcasing their products rather than only having an experience. Everyone else spent tons of money and yet seemed to forget to make sure that people walked away not only with a good memory, but also information on their products.
You registered at the booth and were given a card with a personal QR code on it. As you worked your way through the stations you’d scan your card. You could get your photo taken with an LG phone with your choice of mascots. There was a competition set up at their dryers that involved throwing jerseys into the wash. (my aim is bad by the way) You could also learn about the quick heat ovens by tasting some fresh cookies baked in them and of course there were 3D televisions everywhere that you could kick back and watch.
I was happy to see that they worked in a great charity angle as well. LG televisions can connect to Skype by attaching a camera to them and they had a live coach cam set up where fans could sit down and ask questions directly to a college basketball coach. For every question, LG was making a donation. Seeing this live was very cool. I can imagine families connecting via LG televisions across the country. It was quite impressive.
This would be a good place to pause and also thank the city of New Orleans for being a great host. I love the variety of local restaurants and friendly faces we encountered everywhere we went. A special thanks to the crew at Dante’s Kitchen where I had one of the best meals of my life.
We had some free time on Monday to learn more about the entire LG Mobile options and then explore the city. Of course since we had three fifth of the Cast of Dads together, we had to take the opportunity to film this quick video.
Monday night as a massive storm rolled in, we headed to local hotel bar to watch the big game. They had worked with the owner to replace the televisions with LG ones and we’d be watching the game in 3D with the new upscaling I mentioned. The game wasn’t being shot in 3D but we’d be watching it in 3D. I still wasn’t sure about it.
I will admit that for all my hesitations about watching a sporting event in 3D I was blown away. Sure, it isn’t as impressive as something filmed in 3D but it was quite amazing. Better than I ever thought it would be. What I’m really curious to see is how it handles content that I and others produce on the web. I wonder what Passion Hit TV or Dad Labs will look like when upscaled on these tvs.
Did I mention that while watching the game we were treated to an old fashion crawfish boil? If you don’t know, this is one of my favorite things in the world so my night was made. But, it was about to get better as they asked us which was better, watching the game in 3D or live.
I joked that, “the game looks amazing in 3D, but no television is ever going to replace being there in person.”
But, I smiled even more as they replied with, “We agree so here are tickets to the game and there is a car waiting outside to take you.”
We got there just in time for the start of the second half and enjoyed a great half of basketball. I was pulling for Kansas to pull off the upset and while they fought hard, they just couldn’t keep it together and win it.
LG showed us a great time in the Big Easy and I want to personally thank everyone who made it happen and for having me be part of the fun. I’ve got a new interest in the LG product line and I appreciate the members of their team, including the CMO, spending so much one on one time talking with us. Most brands don’t give that level of access and it didn’t go unnoticed. Brad, Jeff and I talked a lot about how great it was of LG to do this.
I’m hoping I can get a television and a Nitro to try out for a longer period of time so that I can fully review them both. The products look amazing, but we all know that you need to really put them through the paces to fully review how they work.
As someone who goes to a lot of events like this, I can easily say that this was one of the best organized that I’ve ever attended. We felt very welcomed and appreciated the entire time. Thank you LG for having us be part of it!
Disclosure : LG covered all my expenses for this weekend get away. They gave us access to products and people. They showed us a great time, but guess what?
All the images, thoughts and words are my own.