The way PR professionals work to capture a client’s target audience has continued to pivot drastically over the last decade. For consumer-facing businesses, e-commerce disrupted the retail space decreasing the appeal for a traditional brick-and-mortar presence. With everything turning to digital, companies are facing the issue of consumers itching for real-feel experiences, which has led to the recent trend of ‘pop-ups.’ The pop-up economy started just a few years ago with the curation of ‘Instagram museums’ that went viral on social. The Museum of Ice Cream and The Dream Machine have become household names and sold more than $2 million in tickets.
Since then, the pop-up space has evolved to include brand activations from fashion, to food to technology, all creating an interactive experience for consumers that better connect people with a brand’s mission. Big name brands from Nike and Kylie Cosmetics have all begun to hop on board, creating unique moments in time. Even toilet paper brand Charmin got in on the action, hosting the “Charmin Restrooms” pop-up in Times Square on New Year’s Eve.
As a publicist, suggesting this kind of activation to a client shows awareness of societal trends that can also bring a variety of opportunities to the company if they are preparing for a launch. For starters, pop-ups serve as the perfect bridge for e-tailers to connect with customers without the commitment to permanent brick and mortar stores, at 80% less of a cost – the average price of a pop-up ranges from $2,000 – $10,000. The biggest selling point that money can’t buy is the potential for brand visibility. Some successful activations have seen 500-750 visitors per day and have reached close to 200,000 in brand hashtags on Instagram, not including Facebook posts or posts with only tagged locations, or account “@s.” These kinds of events are not necessarily about selling something physical, the real driver is the result of organic PR and building brand credibility through word of mouth buzz.
Once a client agrees to execute this kind of event, it is important to be armed and ready with the right tool kit that will ensure success.
Choosing The Right Venue Can Make it or Break it:
This means thinking outside of the box. Activations that leave the most lasting impression start with a “wow” moment upon arrival. Instead of opting for a traditional venue, transforming a historic boat, wagon in the dessert, retro railcar or landmark church offers consumers a hand-crafted experience that separates one pop-up from another. A great way to find and book a unique space is through a rental platform like Splacer, which offers 3,000 unique spaces in America’s busiest cities.
Choose A Consistent Overarching Theme:
A lot of what goes into executing a brand activation is designing experiences that translate well to photos (for viral Instagram posts, of course). Choosing a theme and sticking to it makes for the best photos and branded content. Just like Instagram accounts with consistent content are aesthetically pleasing, brands should aim to replicate this visualization in-person. Great examples of themes that work well are minimalistic and monochromatic. Choosing a theme broad enough to bring to life an experience that will resonate with various demographics is key.
While the takeaway for a pop-up doesn’t necessarily have to be tangible, users should walk away with something, whether it be a full stomach, a new profile picture, or the newest product in a launch. Pantone’s “Pantone Cafe” left visitors with Instagram-bait and tasty treats that matched the company’s famous color palettes. Birchbox’s Tour gave its subscribers the chance to shop the ecommerce brand’s goods in-person by opening a temporary brick-and-mortar store where shoppers walked away with manicures and palm readings in addition to makeup freebies.
Now all that’s left is to come up with a hashtag.