Secret concert in Ogden overwhelming success

Monday , August 04, 2014 - 5:58 PM

BS_080214_Pepsi concert_12-6

Pepsi threw a surprise Phillip Phillips concert in downtown Ogden on Saturday, August 2, 2014. Fans...

Standard-Examiner Staff

OGDEN — Apparently a lot of pre-show advertising and publicity isn’t needed to bring out thousands of music lovers in Ogden.

By all accounts, a surprise concert and parade organized by PepsiCo Inc. and Downtown Ogden Inc. was an overwhelming success, bringing a crowd of thousands to the intersection of Grant Avenue and Historic 25th Street on Saturday. The event was part of Pepsi’s “Real. Big. Summer.” campaign. The food and beverage corporation is hosting surprise concerts and music festivals at locations scattered all across the country.

The secret concert was kept under wraps until late Friday afternoon, when word leaked out that former “American Idol” winner Phillip Phillips would be headlining the free show.  

“It was about 4 o’clock when the word started leaking out that it would be Phillip Phillips,” said Ogden Mayor Mike Caldwell. “I had people calling me saying, ’Tell me who it’s going to be. I know you know.’ But we honestly didn’t have any idea who it was going to be.”

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Ogden Chief Administrative Officer Mark Johnson said he attended the show and estimated that up to 10,000 people showed up to the concert.

“It was essentially all word of mouth and social media driven,” Johnson said of the large crowd. “I know Pepsi was really pleased with the turnout.”

The only real advertising for the event came in the form of cryptic Pepsi signs placed on a few light posts along 25th Street that read only, “Something Big is Happening”, Pepsi-themed city benches decorated with sand and beach umbrellas and free sodas being handed out at various locations throughout Ogden.

Kendra Francis attended the show because she happened to be in Ogden and noticed something unusual was happening on 25th Street.

“We passed by 25th Street and noticed something was going on,” she said. “At first we were hearing Pink or Maroon 5 was going to perform, then finally we heard it was Phillip Phillips. It was basically all word of mouth.”

Francis said the show was energetic and well-attended. The mayor, Johnson and Downtown Ogden Inc. executive director Dan Musgrave all said they’ve only received positive response from Ogden residents and others who attended the show.

Phillips mentioned his performance on Twitter soon after the show ended Saturday night.

“Awesome time in Ogden tonight,” the singer-songwriter wrote.

Johnson said Pepsi approached the city about the show months ago, and soon after began obtaining the necessary permits to close down 25th Street and throw an impromptu concert. Pepsi was initially inspired to come to Ogden by Karen Waters, owner of Karen’s Out West Cafe on 25th Street, who has featured Pepsi products at her restaurant for 19 years.

Waters was one of five Pepsi retailers across the country that the company awarded with a free, surprise concert. Waters was also presented with a jukebox exclusively featuring two of her favorite artists, Johnny Cash and Elvis Presley.

Johnson and Musgrave said Pepsi is also looking to film scenes for a new national ad campaign along 25th Street.

“They like the feel of 25th Street,” Johnson said.

Musgrave said Pepsi isn’t the only cola powerhouse interested in 25th Street. About five years ago, he said, Coca-Cola donated money to improve building facades along 25th Street. During the Pepsi parade, Coke products could be seen conspicuously placed along the street.

“We’ve got both of the big cola companies interested in 25th Street,“ Musgrave said. ”With companies like that showing interest, we hope others will follow.“

Musgrave said between the parade, the concert and the opening day of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints’ Ogden temple open house, there were approximately 40,000 people in the city on Saturday. The temple open house will run until Sept. 6 and the city expects at least 750,000 visitors to converge on the downtown area during the next five weeks.

Caldwell said restaurants in the downtown area reported two-hour wait times Saturday. 

”It’s really an exciting time for Ogden,“ the mayor said. ”The energy so far, has been electric. It’s going to be an interesting month.“

On Monday, the LDS Church said more than 500,000 people have already made reservations to visit the temple.

Contact reporter Mitch Shaw at 801-625-4233 or Follow him on Twitter at @mitchshaw23.






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Coke, Pepsi battle it out on Ogden's 25th Street

Monday , August 04, 2014 - 8:57 PM

It’s “West Side Story” meets The Cola Wars.

Apparently, Historic 25th Street has long been Coca-Cola turf. The vast majority of restaurants there serve the product in the bright red cans, and rumor has it Coke spent a small fortune on the street — investing a couple hundred thousand dollars on advertising, signage, awnings and other improvements to the area.

Think of Coke as the Jets.

Last Saturday evening, Pepsi — the product in the bright blue cans — invaded that turf. Pepsi brought in the guy who’s gonna make this place your home, popular singer-songwriter Phillip Phillips, for a surprise concert that drew thousands to the street that Coke built.

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Think of Pepsi as the Sharks.

And with no Lt. Schrank or Officer Krupke to stop it, I suppose the ensuing rumble was inevitable.

Steve Conlin is a former photographer at the Standard-Examiner. He used to own a business on 25th Street, and was even president of the Historic 25th Street Association a few years ago. Although not currently running a business there, he does live in a condo on the street.

All this is to say that Conlin loves Ogden, and he loves 25th Street. He refers to residing in the historic downtown district as “living the dream.”

But when he got up to walk his dog, Charlie, on Saturday morning, Conlin says there was something different about his street. Everywhere he looked was Pepsi blue. There were Pepsi banners on lamp posts, Pepsi park benches, Pepsi parasols, and a great big Pepsi stage at the southwest corner of the James V. Hansen Federal Building.

“Visually, they took over the street,” Conlin said.

And everywhere, signs proclaiming “Pepsi Loves Karen,” a reference to the owner of Karen’s Cafe on 25th Street.

Says Conlin: “As far as I know, every business down here, except Karen’s, serves Coke.”

But here’s where it gets interesting. As Conlin walked Charlie down Historic 25th Street, it became readily apparent that Coke wasn’t about to give up its hard-won territory without a fight. On Saturday morning, at the corner of 25th and Lincoln, Coke massed its forces for a counterattack. There was a huge Coke can on a flatbed trailer. A fleet of Coke trucks and other vehicles. And plenty of portable coolers for dispensing free samples of their beverage along the street.

“It looked like the L.A. police, staging for a Prop 8 demonstration,” Conlin said. “I was laughing my ass off. They started putting free Coke displays under all the Pepsi banners. I wandered the street and picked up, like, a case of Coke.”

OK, that’s a bit of an exaggeration. Conlin admits it was more like a six-pack, not a case, that may or may not have found its way into his backpack. But Conlin’s point is, Coke wasn’t about to go gentle into Pepsi’s summer concert night.

There are those who thought Coke’s attempt at upstaging the Pepsi concert was in bad taste, and they said so on Facebook and other social media.

“That’s tacky,” they said. “Not cool,” they said. “Let Pepsi have their night of fun,” they said.

Conlin sees their logic, but he thinks people don’t understand just how much Coke has invested in Historic 25th Street over the past few years.

Besides, the way I see it, it’s been a long time since anybody’s actually fought over downtown Ogden. So having a couple of massive multi-national corporations battling for our affections is some pretty heady stuff.

Plus which, throw in the estimated 700,000 folks expected for this month’s tours of the newly remodeled Ogden LDS Temple, and Junction City is definitely feeling the love this summer. Whether she’s dressed in Coke red, Pepsi blue or even Mormon white, downtown Ogden is finally feeling pretty.

Oh so pretty.

Contact Mark Saal at 801-625-4272, or Follow him on Twitter at @Saalman. Like him on Facebook at

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Idol winner Phillip Phillips stars at surprise Ogden concert

Sunday , August 03, 2014 - 8:48 AM

Standard-Examiner staff

OGDEN — The occasional leak was supposed to be inevitable. It’s not easy to put on a parade with 1,000 participants in the dark, nor to host a concert with a mystery celebrity, without a few people catching wind.

But Downtown Ogden Inc. and Pepsi Co. kept interested onlookers, numbered in the thousands by the end of the night, guessing about Saturday’s surprise event mystery performer right up until 2012 “American Idol”-winner Phillip Phillips made his appearance on the V.I.P. float.

Phillips, star of the “impromptu parade” held earlier Saturday, also a led a 7:30 p.m. concert, drawing a large crowd at Historic 25th Street and Grant Avenue.

Downtown Ogden, a business that partners with the city, announced along with Pepsi on social media Friday that a mystery performer would accompany the weekend’s festivities. Residents speculated about several artists, including country star Blake Shelton, who works with Pepsi at times on various promotions.

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“I have heard of Rolling Stones or Pink,” said Ogden resident earlier Saturday. “Pepsi’s got the money, so I wouldn’t put it past them. I got three daughters, and they all like Pink, so I wouldn’t mind that.”

But Phillips, a folk rock artist, was kept a relative secret, much like he was before his ascent to “American Idol” stardom. In the two years since, he has released two albums and sold more than a million copies combined.

Most residents who spoke with the Standard-Examiner were impressed with the star-power selection of Phillips, though some admitted they knew little about him.

“I just want to see some good music. I’m a music fan. I’m here to be young again,” quipped Ogden resident Richard Ramos, who said he’s never seen the city host an event like Saturday’s. “I’ve lived here since 1995 and haven’t seen anything like this. I’m enjoying this atmosphere. I love it.”

Another one of Saturday’s main stars was herself kept in the dark until she was told late this week she would be honored by the celebration.

Karen Waters, owner of Karen’s Out West Cafe on Historic 25th Street, was told Friday she would be singled out by Pepsi, who put on the event to thank local clients.

“She was badgering all the employees, asking what’s this about, what’s with all the secrets,” joked Waters’ brother, D.J. Homer. “It was a surprise to her.”

Waters stood out to Pepsi in part because of her high involvement in the community. Her diner has been operating downtown for 19 years.

“She supports every organization that comes along for help. If I named names, I’d get it wrong or forget somebody,” Homer said. “They had a whole camera crew here all yesterday and today. Nationwide, they choose just five people (to highlight). It’s good to be part of something so unique.”

Pepsi singled out Karen’s Out West Cafe in part because of her integrity working with the company, said Kelcie Hall, whose husband works locally for Pepsi.

“Her husband gave them a verbal agreement (since starting the restaurant) to always serve Pepsi products,” said Hall, who attended Saturday’s festivities with her family. “They’ve always kept that (promise), so that’s why they’re being thanked.”

Waters was presented Friday with a jukebox exclusively featuring two of her favorite artists, Jonny Cash and Elvis Presley. A large banner hung over one of Saturday’s floats with the words, “We love Karen.”

The owner herself, though, was busy Saturday helping her employees handle the surge of customers drifting over from the parade and concert, not to mention an LDS temple open house just a few blocks away.

“When the parade got over, we just got flooded,” Homer said. “The cooks are hopping back there. But that’s good, business is good. ... Everybody is helping today.”

Several other businesses were also featured in the parade for their status as longtime clients.

“The whole point is to say, ‘You’re local, and we’re also local,’” Homer said.

Emilee Hall, 10, Kelcie Hall’s daughter, was one of roughly 1,000 volunteers in Saturday’s parade. She wasn’t nervous, she said, despite having only a few days’ notice she was going to march.

“We yelled and walked and got to hold signs saying Pepsi loves Iggy’s,” Emilee said, adding her favorite part was getting to stand right next to Phillips.

Kelcie Hall said even local employees had only had a short window to prepare the parade.

“I know in Ogden it’s been in the works for three weeks,” she said, but they made it a success. “It’s been amazing.”

The parade lasted only about 30 minutes but included some of the familiar trappings, including plenty of giveaways.

“People were handing out drinks, (mini) coolers with Pepsi in them,” said Ogden resident Mike Whitten, “a lot of cool stuff.”

Contact reporter Ben Lockhart at 801-625-4221 or Follow him on Twitter at @SE_Lockhart. Like him on Facebook at

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Free sodas foretell of surprise Ogden parade, concert Saturday

Sunday , August 03, 2014 - 7:56 AM

Standard-Examiner staff

OGDEN — Residents may have seen some unusual activity downtown Friday — and are in store for much more of the same.

Downtown Ogden Inc., a business partnership with Ogden city, announced Friday on social media it was preparing for a Pepsi Surprise Event by decorating various Pepsi-themed city benches with sand, beach umbrellas — and yes, free sodas — at various locations throughout town.

The umbrellas attached to the bench provided some shade for the mini-beachgoers unabashed enough to reach into the nearby blue coolers filled with free cans of Pepsi.

Downtown Ogden is teaming up with the soft drink titan for an “impromptu parade” Saturday beginning at 5 p.m.

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About 1,000 participants will march in the parade, which will include floats and “other elements,” according to Downtown Ogden’s Facebook announcement.

Besides those nuggets, few hints exist, besides an inscription on the themed benches: “Something real. Big. Is coming.”

The parade will run from Historic 25th Street and Grant Avenue west to Wall Avenue, where it will turn south to 26th Street.

From there it will move east again until it turns north on Grant for the final stretch.

A surprise concert is also in the works for Saturday; the artist — or artists — are still a mystery.

“The very last float in the parade will unveil who the performer is that (HE/SHE/OR THEY) will be performing Saturday night at a concert on the street,” Downtown Ogden’s announcement says.

The as-yet-unrevealed artist will put on a full concert beginning about 7:30 p.m. at the 300 block of Historic 25th Street.

Streets affected by the parade will open again at 6 p.m., except for 25th Street between the 200 and 300 blocks, which will be roped off for concertgoers.

Alcohol will be restricted at the concert, which Downtown Ogden has planned as a family event.

Contact reporter Ben Lockhart at 801-625-4221 or Follow him on Twitter at @SE_Lockhart. Like his Facebook page at

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