Welcome to Miami!

Dave Whorton

05 February 2021

Welcome to Miami!!

In the words of Will Smith circa 2011 - "Welcome to Miami.” (Am I dating myself with a reference to Will Smith’s music career?) And yes, welcome was the feeling for our team from STAR and myBackyardStudio™ as we activated on South Beach at Beachwalk 2021 on behalf of ESPN, the College Football Playoff and the CFP Foundation. The residents of Miami and the 14,000 lucky fans representing the fan bases from the University of Alabama and the Ohio State University were excited to experience a live event in celebration of the 2021 CFP Championship and equally as enthusiastic to learn of the #TagATeacher promotion to celebrate these special front line workers.

To continue celebrating educators across the country via the Extra Yards for Teachers initiative, one lucky teacher is being awarded a custom myBackyardStudio™  to ease the challenges of distance learning.

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While markedly different than some past events I’ve attended, the experience was amazing! Here are my top observations from the experience.

  1. First and foremost, live events will be back with unparalleled success! Simply put, human beings crave interaction and love to experience the energy and excitement that live events offer – especially centered around a premier sports event like the College Football Playoff Championship. Masks and social distancing did not hamper the experience at all.
  2. Fans are grateful for sponsors and event partners. So many fans representing Alabama and Ohio State thanked sponsors for being involved and making the journey to Miami.
  3. Teachers really are one of the cornerstones of American life. Every individual that learned of ESPN, CFP and the CFP Foundation’s support of the teaching profession immediately smiled and shared a name and/or a story of a teacher that impacted their life or the lives of their children.
  4. Creativity is alive and well. Brands like Capital One, Dos Equis, Good Year, Samsung and Dr Pepper delivered for fans and local participants. From sand sculptures to one-of-a-kind photo opps and roaming street teams, these brands and their partner agencies flexed their creative muscle to engage fans while adhering to safety protocols.
  5. Miami was an excellent host city for the event. Despite challenging times, Miami embraced the opportunity, welcomed fans and provided an impressive experience.
  6. Even the chachkis reflect the times. At one event, invited guests were able to visit the “custom face mask station” to create a personalized facemask to reflect team allegiance or simply celebrate the attendance at this top sports event.
  7. Even smaller crowds are loud and impact the game. While I long for the days of filled stadiums (safely), it was exciting to watch the fans celebrate their team’s journey to Miami in this difficult year.
  8. Virtual event extensions, like CFP All Access, will be enhancers to live events from this point forward. Yes, something positive resulting from the pandemic. More fans will experience live events than ever before. Brands, media partners, agencies and teams will need to continue thinking in two worlds – real life and virtual environments. We all have to rise to the challenge of engaging fans who, maybe, were not front and center in the past. All fans – no matter their location – now are likely attendees.
  9. Sports will be a uniting force for our country as we defeat COVID-19. I am convinced, more than ever, after attending the events surrounding the College Football Playoff Championship. Fans will be back in droves and are counting the days until they can safely return. Let’s be ready with new ideas to greet them.
  10. The door is open for planning now. Brainstorming ways to welcome fans back (when safe) should start now. Dust off the big ideas and get ready to roll!

STAR and myBackyardStudio™ were honored to be selected to play a role in Beachwalk 2021. This live event left our team wanting more. We cannot wait to be back at live events each and every week. Being “welcomed to Miami” left our team ready to engage  across the country and world!

Are you ready to be back too? 


Dave Whorton

Dave is a seasoned sales, marketing and sponsorship professional that thrives on delivering thoughtful, innovative solutions to brands, agencies and sports teams across the county. Over the course of his career, he has led the strategy development for several top organizations, including: Bank of America, the American Heart Association, AT&T, Good Sports, PepsiCo, Free Green Can (a Chicago-based startup), Bank of the West, Citizens Bank, IEG and several other leading brands.



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