As crowdsourced platforms like Airbnb continue to dominate the hospitality market, traditional hotel brands are dreaming up dynamic live experiences that allow them to stay competitive. A recent example is the MGallery Hotel Collection, which launched a 24-hour interactive art installation in the middle of Manhattan’s Penn Plaza on June 3 to drum up organic word-of-mouth buzz surrounding the acquisition of 21c Museum Hotels. Highlighting the “art of the stay,” the activation centered on a pop-up hotel room encased in glass that was transformed into a “Masterpiece Suite” by muralist Aaron De La Cruz.
Art is a key component of MGallery’s brand DNA. Add to that the concept behind each 21c Museum Hotel—”a multi-venue contemporary art museum, coupled with a boutique hotel”—and it’s easy to see why an art-driven activation was the perfect way to celebrate the acquisition. Here’s how it worked: De La Cruz began with the ultimate blank canvas—a stark white hotel room installation, with everything from the bedding and flooring, to the lampshades and walls, to décor elements, painted white from top to bottom. The artist was tasked with blanketing every inch of the room in vibrant color and his signature designs. And he only had 24 hours to make it happen (spoiler alert: he did).
You Might Also Like:
- In The Pantone Pantry by Tribute at Art Basel, Consumers Explore the Color of the Year
- Gallery: Maestro Dobel Tequila’s Live Artists at Lollapalooza Create the ‘Perfect Blend’
As De La Cruz worked his magic, MGallery invited a group of industry VIPs, hand-picked influencers and media to an evening cocktail party to get an exclusive view of the transformation. The experience featured a variety of the enormous, colorful penguin statues 21c has come to be associated with. There was also an appearance by The Haiku Guys donning luxury pajama sets and whipping up customized poems for attendees on the spot using a vintage typewriter, one of MGallery’s brand markers.
Outside of the VIP event, countless passersby stopped to observe De La Cruz’s efforts, snapping photos and watching the artist work. Those who posted a photo of the Masterpiece Suite, or visited an MGallery microsite, were entered to win a “Memorable Moment” experience. The winner and a guest will choose between picnicking by private helicopter in New Zealand, getting a custom tattoo in Amsterdam or participating in a VIP bourbon, arts and horse racing experience in Louisville, KY.
Other components of the campaign included mysterious wild postings displayed across 20 locations around New York City in the lead-up to the activation, and a new “Paint Your Passport” package timed to the installation. Partakers will visit all eight 21c Museum Hotels, gaining insider access to one of the largest contemporary art collections in the country. The package will also include experiences unavailable to the general public, such as dinner at the 21c founders’ home, and exclusive activities curated at each stop, like private cooking classes with a 21c chef.
“The vast majority of marketing seems to fall on deaf ears and people find ways to block it out,” says Jeff Doane, svp-sales & marketing, North & Central America, at AccorHotels. “We’re constantly trying to figure out ways to, rather than push content onto people, create content that drives them in that they find engaging and that also provides a bit of an immersive aspect to it, so they can really feel what our hotels and our brands stand for. We kind of use that as a filter to guide us in terms of how we create events and experiences… and then we try to create advocacy for the things that we’re doing so that it’s not necessarily us saying things about us but it’s others engaging in it and then saying things about us, because we feel like that cuts through a lot of the noise.” Agency: LFB Media Group, New York City.
Watch the 24-hour art installation come to life:
Photo courtesy: Sean Smith