Five ways to shake up your activations with unexpected environments
Many of the industry’s events take place within a handful of venue settings—places like convention centers, sports arenas and pop-up stores. But more and more, brands are throwing attendees for a loop by selecting an offbeat location that turns the standard activation on its head. If you’re looking for fresh ways to energize your experiences, a change of scenery might be just the ticket. Here’s a look at five brands that leveraged unique (and relevant) locations to engage attendees.
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Craft beer brand Upslope got consumers hiking for hops on a Rocky Mountain Trail in Colorado as part of a strategy to release its limited edition Oktoberfest Lager. Participants were repaid for their efforts at the end of the outdoor workout with cold brews in a backcountry setting complete with a rustic bar, stumps to sit on and outdoor games. The event seamlessly aligned with Upslope’s #apreseverything theme, which positions the brand’s beverages as after-adventure rewards.
If you’re looking for an unconventional event venue, 35,000 feet in the air is a pretty good place to start. JetBlue’s in-flight Reach Across the Aisle stunt combined the cultural climate of the presidential primaries and a surprise and delight twist to engage consumers on what was expected to be a typical flight from Boston to Phoenix. Instead, passengers were told they could win a free round-trip ticket to one of 20 domestic or international destinations served by JetBlue—but only if they could all agree on a single location by unanimous vote before the flight landed. The campaign perfectly played on the common sentiment that “if my candidate doesn’t win, I’m leaving the country” while simultaneously rewarding paying customers.
3. American Express
Famous for its innovative activations, Amex’s Hawks Island experience provided Seattle Seahawks fans with a pre-game destination like no other. Held on a 200-foot barge off the Puget Sound, the event was free to cardmembers over the age of 21, and offered complimentary food and beverages and live entertainment. With no true gathering place for Seahawks supporters to tailgate before games, the activation not only delivered a unique venue, but filled a service role for fans.
Airport terminal activations may not be new, but hangar-based experiences are a different story. Tinder leveraged Santa Monica Airport’s Hangar 8 for an influencer event that celebrated the launch of Tinder Plus, a paid subscription-based version of the app with a feature that allows users to digitally select from potential mates all over the world. From brand ambassadors in flight attendant uniforms to gift bags distributed at “baggage claim,” the entire event was airline-themed to underscore how Tinder Plus operates.
5. Breckenridge Tourism Office
Even brands activating b-to-b events are skipping the ballroom and heading to atypical meeting spaces. Like Breckenridge Tourism Office’s two-day marketing conference, which takes place in a camp environment on the Breckenridge Creative Arts campus. Sessions take place everywhere from around a campfire to mid-stream on a fly-fishing excursion and beyond. The strategy keeps attendees engaged thanks to an intimate atmosphere where they feel more comfortable sharing stories and information.
*This article was originally published in 2017 and is updated periodically