He lives in a pineapple under the sea, but for three days in February, you could catch beloved cartoon character SpongeBob SquarePants at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, CA. Ahead of the premiere of “The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge on the Run” on Paramount+ (Paramount Plus), the streaming service executed an Under the Sea Road Trip Adventure drive-thru and screening activation designed to reignite fans’ love of the franchise through a physical experience enhanced by digital components. A minimum donation of $30 per ticket was required to attend, with 100 percent of proceeds going to environmental non-profit Heal the Bay.
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Spanning three tents and six unique environments, the drive-thru began on the “beach,” where staff dressed as life guards danced around attendees’ cars and costumed characters portraying SpongeBob and Patrick made surprise appearances. Cars then plunged into the franchise’s fictional setting, Bikini Bottom, where they encountered scenes from the new movie, including an old western town featuring tumbleweeds, desert sand and cacti; the “Lost City of Atlantic City” brimming with bright lights, carnival ride installations, slot machines and treasure chests; Jellyfish Fields teeming with real bubbles, coral and overhanging jellyfish; and Kamp Koral, the setting of the new Paramount+ original series “Kamp Koral: SpongeBob’s Under Years,” featuring tents, fire pits, archery, cabins, boats and a chance for attendees to grab themed concessions and branded giveaways.
Watch the Activation in Action:
“The drive-thru component elevated the whole event and differentiated the experience from other drive-ins in the market,” says Leslie Shair, director of events at Paramount+. “The framed tents allowed us to create a themed universe, transporting SpongeBob fans in their cars from a sandy beach to Bikini Bottom… Every detail was thoughtfully designed to further immerse kids in the SpongeBob universe, all while making sure the event remained parent-approved and COVID-safe.”
A select song from the film soundtrack layered with environmental sounds was included in each scene along the journey to further bring the environments to life. Digital engagements also played a role, from the use of QR codes to smart phone-enabled augmented reality photo ops, filters and themed games. Among tech-enhanced touchpoints were a photo moment that digitally transported attendees’ cars underwater, an opportunity to virtually interact with SpongeBob and snap a photo with his AR hologram and a chance for attendees to watch jellyfish swim across their phones as they drove through the Jellyfish Fields.
Once parked for the screening, which included an episode of “Kamp Koral” along with the featured film, attendees could play custom games, including a Kamp Koral Speed Tap Challenge, a SpongeBob Character Memory Match Game and a Puzzle Scramble. Aye-aye, captain. Agencies: 15|40 | A Creative Studio, Los Angeles (concept, design, production); MoZeus, Conyers, GA (digital activations).