Opel Turns a Launch Event into a Space Odyssey
Transforming a dealer event into a 24-hour “cosmic” experience, European automaker Opel’s Mission Astra launch event had attendees gazing at the stars from luxury bubble tents for a sleepover at a “space station” in Spain’s Sierra Nevada region where they were no longer dealers—they were astronauts. In shifts of 250, the 3,500 guests took part in one-and-a-half day missions to experience the new Astra vehicle on excursions and high-speed night laps. European automotive journalists would name Opel Astra the 2016 European Car of the Year. Lift-off for this brand? Roger that.
But let’s step back. Picture this: there’s an expansive arid landscape on which a 12,800-square-foot dome has been erected next to the Circuito Guadix racetrack and next to it, in geometric formation, are 250 luxury bubble tents with panoramic ceiling windows that offered views of the night sky. The dome served as the “Astra launch base” and main stage venue. The hanger-like space boasted a 270-degree media display for the launch content. The theme of “exploring the Astra universe” came to life in a 45-minute mission briefing that offered product specs, brand messaging and the big reveal.
The mission briefing ended with “lift off” and the first test drives of the automobile, marked by the dramatic opening of a hidden door on the stage that led out to the racetrack. The dealers—err, astronauts—then took “space expeditions” which were active driving excursions on the landscape that happened to look a whole lot like the surface of the moon. Attendees tested their own g-force resistance and the new IntelliLux LED matrix headlights on the Astra during a night trip around the track with professional drivers. Later in the evening, the dealers celebrated a successful mission with a dinner overlooking the entire Astra launch base.
As you would expect, Astra needed to overcome a number of challenges to pull this event off, from the Uniplan tent system to the four-week construction of the camp next to the racetrack. The bubble tents were outfitted with a shower, toilet, sink and double bed and connected to more than nine feet of water and electricity supply lines. They were created with the Buckminster Fuller-designed Montreal Biosphere at the 1967 World Expo in mind, a project known for creating habitable spaces in hostile environments—and a nod to the Astra launch messaging. On top of this, the pods needed to be cleaned each day by 100 staff members around the clock. The whole site transformed into a bustling mini space city for the week.
Astra’s goal was to align dealers with its new forward-thinking brand vision. One small step for an automaker, one giant leap for the event industry.