Top of the pop-ups

The summer is a time for brands to venture outside their comfort zones. And this year, many have used the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee and the London Olympics as inspiration for temporary stands and shops where marketers can engage customers through innovative, immersive experiences. Jonathan Bacon takes a stroll around London and beyond in search of the most attention-grabbing pop-ups.



Earlier this month, toiletries brand Radox launched an experiential roadshow that has seen its ‘blast booth’ concept appear at shopping centres around the country. The activity, part of the Come to Life with Radox campaign, invites shoppers to step into a wind tunnel and experience the “invigorating” impact of Radox shower gel.

Cassie Shuttlewood, brand manager at parent company Unilever, explains: “Obviously you can’t get people wet in shopping centres, so the idea was to create an experience that helps people ‘come to life’ and experience how it feels after a Radox shower.”

The pop-up, set up by creative agency Geronimo, takes photos of people and encourages them to upload the pictures to Facebook for a chance to win a five-year supply of Radox shower gel. It also allows the brand to capture customers’ details, for future marketing.



Frozen cocktails company Rocktails says that setting up an experiential stand at June’s Taste of London food festival led to a 300 per cent uplift in social media activity.

The concept, developed with experiential agency Pulse, involved handing out ice cubes to people at the festival with the challenge that if they could carry them to the Rocktails stand before they melted, they would get a free cocktail glass to go with their sample shot.

Naomi Kibble, marketing and communications director at Rocktails, says the promotion created “an amazing buzz and sense of excitement” that drove people to the stand. “It’s not every day you’re handed an ice cube, so it created a real sense of urgency,” she adds. “People were literally running to get to the stand in time.”



The recession has already had an effect on the London restaurant trade, but that has not stopped kitchen appliance maker Electrolux opening a pop-up luxury dining experience on the roof of the Royal Festival Hall.

The Cube, which opened at the start of June, offers spectacular views of London and a roster of six Michelin-starred chefs working out of a kitchen fitted with Electrolux appliances.

The restaurant’s single table caters for 18 diners at a time, who can interact with the chefs and even get involved in the cooking too. Sensory effects, including sounds provided by sonic branding agency Condiment Junkie, add to the dining experience.

“It’s really a dinner party experience,” explains Graham Bremer, head of marketing at Electrolux UK. “People often sit next to people they don’t know at dinner parties, and guests often end up in the kitchen, talking around the food and the cooking. That’s all part of it.”

Bremer says diners have included trade customers such as kitchen suppliers and journalists who have taken an interest in the unusual concept. “From a PR perspective, it’s been hugely successful,” he claims.



Puma, the official kit supplier to the Jamaica Olympic team, used the arrival of Usain Bolt in London as the inspiration for its Jamaican-themed experiential pop-up this summer. Located in east London’s trendy, multicultural Brick Lane, Puma Yard ran over 17 nights in July and August, offering customers a “convergence of sports, music and lifestyle activities”.

The site, designed by experiential agency Innovision, included a ‘back yard’ area of Kingston-inspired food stalls, a beach bar serving island refreshments and recreational areas with giant TV screens for people to gather and watch the Olympics. Adjoining areas included a retail space and social club. The venue also hosted live music acts, including Puma brand ambassador Professor Green.

Puma describes the pop-up as “the perfect mix of sport and lifestyle to help Londoners get to know all that the brand stands for and its rich Jamaican heritage”.



Open at Westfield Stratford City from July until September, Magnum London is the fourth Magnum pop-up to open in Europe this summer, reflecting efforts by the brand to engage customers in physical retail settings.

The pop-up, devised by brand strategy firm Hot Pickle, offers customers the chance to ‘make your own Magnum’ within an upmarket bar setting. A curved bar and counter dominates the space as customers file past in an assembly line process that offers complete choice over the combination of ice cream, coating and toppings.

Namita Khosla, brand manager at parent company Unilever, says Magnum’s traditional status as a grocery brand has hindered its ability to engage with consumers – hence the pop-up idea. “We wanted to feel the love from consumers, which meant breaking that barrier.” A Magnum Twitter feed was launched to coincide with the pop-up and encourage customers to share their ice cream creations.



Tesco’s quest to maximise digital channels saw it set up a temporary store dedicated to its online F&F clothing brand during the Diamond Jubilee weekend. Running over four days, the shop in London’s Covent Garden allowed Tesco to experiment with technology by combining the physical retail setting with a variety of digital tools.

This included replacing the traditional tills with an iPad station where people could browse and buy. Customers could also ‘try on’ garments using the F&F virtual fitting room tool and view exclusive video content by pointing their smartphones at labels on the display clothing. The shop, set up by experiential agency Ignite, combined these tools with Jubilee-inspired 1950s décor to bring old and new together.

Tesco says the pop-up was a good test of customers’ appetite for such technologies, and an example of a potential ‘bricks and clicks’ strategy in action. Nearly 3,000 people visited the store, while the retailer claims to have reached nearly 200,000 Twitter users through the pop up.



Chemical company Dow promoted its role as a top tier Olympic sponsor by setting up two distinct experiential areas during London 2012.

In a bid to advertise the various products it provides as an Olympic partner – from athletics tracks and turf to major building solutions – the brand set up a pop-up in Hyde Park that included an ice rink and bobsleigh simulator, which also promoted its role in providing technology to the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia.

For Dow’s business customers, the company also converted a room at the Grosvenor House Hotel into an interactive education facility, complete with a model of the Olympic Park and a touchscreen table that informed customers of what the company had done for London 2012.

“This is why we wanted to do our sponsorship,” says Dean Palmieri, head of communications for Dow Olympic Operations. “We wanted people to see and touch and feel our solutions and have a greater understanding of the science and technology that goes into it.”



Nissan went for an extreme “multisensory 3D experience” for its stand at this year’s Goodwood Festival of Speed. The company’s ‘wingsuit experience,’ set up by experiential agency TRO, offered festival goers the chance to re-enact the current Nissan Juke Built to Thrill TV advert, which features skydivers assembling the car in mid-freefall.

Participants were strapped horizontally onto a multi-axle motion platform wearing a 3D head-mounted display. They then jumped out of a virtual aeroplane and steered themselves by leaning on the motion platform. Air machines enhanced the experience as the ‘virtual skydiver’ navigated a cityscape and tried to land on the Nissan Juke, collecting points along the way depending on the ‘thrill’ factor experienced.

Nissan described the stand as “a real crowd pull” which combined the adrenaline-fuelled theme of the festival with interaction with its own advertising, while near field communication was used to collect data from participants.



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