Bing Goes Big for Sundance

Jan 23, 2012 11:08am
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Drake performing at Bing Bar Saturday night. His show with Aziz Ansari was the festival's hottest ticket.

PARK CITY, Utah — Big companies spend big money to come to Sundance. When the third week in January hits, so do pop-ups, banners, tents and all manner of branded paraphernalia. They spend hundreds of thousands of dollars entertaining celebrities, Hollywood studio bigwigs, and press. One decorator told that she spent $40,000 to rent sofas and couches for a lounge — for one weekend.
But, according to Bing, whose lounge/bar/club has courted A-list performers, a herd of guests, and even more wannabes for the past three years, the time and expense is more than worth it.

“We can quantify it in a few ways,” Bing’s director of advertising Sean Carver told “Number one: Awareness. Awareness of Bing as a brand has gone up every year for the past three years.” There’s also content — Bing uploads every speaker series and performance that happens in its space to its Facebook page to further rope in consumers.

The draw of their Main Street lounge comes from their headline acts. This year’s slate includes Drake, Cobra Starship, Aziz Ansari, Wiz Khalifa and Jason Mraz. The shows are free, so are the plentiful drinks. While Bing won’t comment on how much they spend on their parties, given their wall of Jack Daniels, world famous performers, and 3-floor, antique-furnished space, hundreds of thousands per night wouldn’t be an unreasonable estimate.

“We’re a search engine, you can’t feel it or touch it,” Carver said. “So the image of this place is important. We didn’t want to go all techy with LCDs and flat screen monitors. People here are on their devices all day. We have kind of a ski theme, laid back.” With leather armchairs, weathered hard wood floors, Andy Warhol-esque screen prints and an oversize American flag, the place looks like something Norman Rockwell might have conceived while listening to Kanye West.

Ironically, or fittingly, given the number of brands that are here, Google’s lounge is half a block down Main Street from Bing. How does the search engine underdog feel about that?

“I think it’s great,” Carver said. “I think the competition is a good company. They’re helping bring music to the masses just like us.”

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