“The cool thing about being able to make an experience with multiple different IPs is that it allows the fans themselves to make their own journey throughout The Lodge and to focus on things that they personally enjoy from a viewership and an IP perspective.”
–James Stewart Cullen, VP-Global Brand Marketing, Paramount Streaming
Contrasting Austin’s sunny spring weather, Paramount+ breezed in to SXSW 2023 with a cozy slope-side pop-up from March 10-13 to engage attendees with its latest slate of original series, movies and sports. The Lodge: A Paramount+ Experience took the concept of Paramount Mountain, central to the company’s lore, literally with activations spread across Clive Bar’s three floors.
Outside, branded wood paneling, stone features, frosted windows and snow-covered plant beds and trees set the scene for the winter ski resort, which continued inside with sled and ski props and the rustic “1923” speakeasy bar, serving The Mountain cocktails based on the “Yellowstone” spinoff show. Brand ambassadors sported blue Paramount+ parkas with white pom knit hats and ski pants.
The Lodge presented the streaming service’s collection of series with several dedicated vignettes. Just off the speakeasy was a photo op with Beavis and Butt-Head cutouts on a couch in a living room straight out of the animated show. The first floor’s centerpiece was a drive-in area for “Grease: Rise of the Pink Ladies” with a popcorn stand and a T-birds car photo op, where participants could don the iconic pink jacket. Fans of “Star Trek: Picard” were often met with a long line to get into a small bar space to order a specially crafted Picard’s Mule.
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The second floor featured a spy-themed “Rabbit Hole” control room and an “Ink Master” tattoo shop corner, where attendees could sit for a temporary airbrush tattoo. From there, attendees ascended to the rooftop deck promoting the sports offerings available on Paramount+ with a large screen, jerseys and a March Madness-branded basketball game. The rooftop also included green screen photo ops and painting on records at a music-themed art station.
“For the last two years, we’ve built this award-winning mountain of entertainment and a brand campaign that really showcases some of our highest caliber IP and characters in the Paramount global family in an interesting and authentic way, pairing up very different and diverse characters on a fictional Paramount Mountain,” says James Stewart Cullen, vp-global brand marketing, Paramount Streaming. “It started with a brainstorm idea of how do we bring Paramount Mountain to the people, and so that’s where The Lodge concept came up. It was something that we felt could travel to not only SXSW, but also different mountain locations across the West.”
SXSW was one of the stops on The Lodge’s three-week tour in March, which also made its way to Mammoth Mountain Resort in California and Steamboat Ski Resort in Colorado, bringing thousands of fans through the themed activation. With planning starting last summer, the Paramount+ team used data and insights related to content fandoms to determine which current and upcoming series to highlight in the space, Cullen says, such as the Taylor Sheridan universe built out from neo-Western drama “Yellowstone” and now including spinoffs “1883” and “1923.”
Paramount+ employed social media and digital marketing tactics to get the word out about The Lodge, as well as joined with SXSW as an official event partner. But hosting the activation at Clive Bar played a large role in driving its popularity among attendees, as long lines formed to get inside and participate in the photo ops.
“The location decision was strategic. It’s at the front of Rainey Street, and it’s the first location you see,” Cullen says. “Being able to partner with our production partners to make sure The Lodge was front and center right when you walked into one of the most trafficked places in Austin helped us get that buzz.”
Cullen notes the success of using an immersive experience to get consumers more familiar with Paramount+’s content offerings and attracting newer fans with photo ops, games and specialty cocktails.
“The cool thing about being able to make an experience with multiple different IPs is that it allows the fans themselves to make their own journey throughout The Lodge and to focus on things that they personally enjoy from a viewership and an IP perspective,” Cullen says. “Because of the attention and the excitement that fans enjoyed at this experience, we’re looking to some other places The Lodge can stop in the future.” Agency: 15|40 Productions.