In the middle of bustling Main Street in Park City, Utah, sits the former Claim Jumper Hotel — an historic property that Microsoft turns into a three-story party hub and event space called the “Bing Bar” throughout the two-week long Sundance Film Festival.
It’s part of Microsoft’s effort to turn Bing into the search engine of a younger, hipper demo.
Drake, Wiz Khalifa, Cobra Starship, Jason Mraz, Theophilus London and Fitz and the Tantrums are among the artists performing on one of the Bing Bar’s two stages, while comedian Aziz Ansari and injured snowboarder Kevin Pearce, along with his neurosurgeon, are taking part in Bing’s speaker series.
Each night, Bing hosts dinners for film casts that have included Neil Young, AnnaLynne McCord, Kristen Bell, Paul Simon, and William H. Macy — not to mention hundreds of party-goers fighting to get their names on a list to make it inside for the house DJ and open bar, which unlike most places during Sundance, is not sponsored.
Between Bing Bar’s performers, food catering and the constantly open bar, the Sundance endeavour is clearly an expensive one.
“We can’t give numbers but the really fortunate thing for us is that Microsoft has been committed to Sundance for a long time,” Eric Hadley, General Manager of Marketing for Bing, told Business Insider when we sat down with him for a chat during Sundance’s opening weekend. “We only have one sponsor and it’s Intel, who just put on a Jason Mraz show.”
Hadley, who reportedly has a $100 million marketing budget, adds that “One of the biggest things on the money side is that there are so many advertisers here now that we can come in and bring our whole ad sales team and they can bring customers in to see the music, to see the speaker series and have meetings here.”
“I don’t know if it’s a money maker or money loser, but it’s just a really good way to showcase technology for Microsoft,” explains Hadley. “We can show off the technology we have like the XBox Kinect, the new Windows phones and a lot of people are going to be given phone while they’re here. Everyone was just at CES, this is the next big thing where more and more advertisers and brands are coming here.”
And while Hadley says that Bing has recently grown 17 per cent with their Generation Y target audience, much of the search engine’s success is due to their partnerships that are visible during Sundance.
“We have a big deal with GroupMe, which is a Microsoft project as well so people who sign up for that can get notified that they’re on the guest list,” explains Hadley. “It’s a way for people to get in and tons of people want to get in here — so we can use our products as a way to get people engaged.”
As for the A-list performers taking the stage throughout the Film Festival, Hadley says they are carefully chosen.
“It’s a combination of what we see in the search data, what we know about our target audience, what bands and stuff do they like, and the third thing we look at is how many followers do they have on Twitter and Facebook so we can really get them to push it out.”says Hadley. “We’ve gotten really lucky with Drake twice, he played our music launch in Los Angeles right before he got big.”
Apparently Drake is big enough now that even Bradley Cooper was willing to wait nearly three hours to see him perform at the Bing Bar Saturday night, after the rapper’s plane was delayed due to snow.
But just because you weren’t at Sundance doesn’t mean you can’t be a part of the fun.
Meet Eric Hadley, General Manager of Marketing for Bing. He spends most of his days and nights working at the Bing Bar and was our trusty tour guide through the three-story space.
Meet Ross Matthews! Jay Leno's former intern and Chelsea Handler's current guest host is the official Bing media correspondent.
And don't forget to try out the Xbox Kinect dance game (with a trained professional as your guide!) on your way out!
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