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  • Writer's pictureAlex Johns


Updated: May 2, 2018

Ever since, I did my first Pop up campaign back in 2010, I have been asked by brand owners to try and come back with a Blueprint for success, something everyone can refer to when considering this great medium. Here are 7 different uses for Pop Ups for different sectors & brand executions:

A brief overview...

1. Brand Launch

Pop Ups are a fantastic epicentre to any brand campaign, they allow customers to come in and experience your brand especially if your awareness is low. They must be packed with experiences and very careful thought needs to be given to ensure that the true essence of the brand comes alive in the store. Ideally you will sell from the space too so that you can capture data as you go. Essential to this is venue selection & demographic profiling to ensure that you position your pop up in the right place and at the right time.

Watch out - Staff are normally promotional staff - actors and actresses and so ensure that you budget for this carefully as they are expensive.

Ideal time - 2 weeks

Example below - My first pop up in Soho back in 2010, Maybelline celebrated their sponsorship of London Fashion week as well as launching new fixtures for Boots & Superdrug. We media partnered with Marie Claire magazine & took over Covent Garden tube station and surrounding areas...

One of my favourites is what Magnum have done ... its now an institution and was a fabulous way to get the brand buzzing

2. Brand Relaunch

Another L'Oreal brand, this time Ultimate blends the haircare brand who wanted to reposition their brand to target a younger audience in the UK following a new remit from L'Oreal global. Whilst all the normal things mentioned above were crucial, we needed to work really hard here to get the natural essence of the brand across and so enlisted an Artist to create giant bottles of the Shampoo made out of real ingredients used in the products and we also did a stunt in Soho to create a halo effect & social talkability for the brand campaign. We worked closely with Facebook Live and did a short piece which attracted 1 million views in less than 15 minutes.

Watch Outs - aligning the Pop up socially, also ensure that PR plans are given long enough lead times to maximise the buzz from the activity.

Ideal time - 3 - 7 days

Example below - Ultimate blends pop up on Bateman street in Soho & a stunt on Neal street.

3. Brand Research

A pop up is a great way for brands to research new packaging and products. A few years ago we did a pop up for Burts Bees which started off as a brand launch but was extended for 6 months to test new point of sale and packaging formats.

Watch outs - Location is crucial, this one was actually not in an ideal location as the footfall was slightly wrong for our needs - too touristy so we had to ensure that the research teams got enough Qual and Quant research carried out in the store by inviting customers in for monitored sessions.

Example below: Pop up for Burt's Bees on Monmouth street

4. Brand Epicentre

Sometimes a Pop up can become a multi faceted tool and work as a place to do far more than sampling and handing out free stuff. Recently we did a large scale pop up for a food brand called Merchant Gourmet which acted as a pop up restaurant as well as a brand immersion room to take retailers & clients to. Thinking big allows you to quite dramatically do things you would never be able to do with digital advertising or traditional sponsorship or media, however by integrating it all together, the sum of the parts really pack a punch.

Watch Outs - again ensure PR is programmed well in advance and align all media correctly to ensure there is a golden thread running through the campaign for the duration ... not just the first few days.

Example below: Merchant Gourmet marketing campaign at Grain&Graze pop up in Islington.

5. Test & Learn

Sometimes a brand wants to try to do something its never done before, this was the case when Maybelline approached us and asked us to create a direct retail proposition. Given it had never been done before, it was a tough brief as we needed to set up retail operations, new stock management systems for the brand, new tills etc. However we learnt that it was possible to sell Maybelline products x6 the ATV than in Boots or Superdrug. Sadly it was never rolled out, but the learnings was invaluable for their E commerce business.

Watch Outs - Staff fees for temporary staff don't work and so it will be very important to broker special rates with whatever staffing provided you use.

Ideal time - 3 months.

Example Below - Maybelline kiosk at Bluewater

6. Album Launch

I was really delighted when in 2016 the Pet Shop Boys management company approached me and ask if I could come up with some ideas to bring their latest album, Super alive. We worked very fast and picked a great venue at Boxpark in Shoreditch, fans queued for 5 hours to get in to buy exclusive unseen merch, listen to the tracks on B&O headphones, see an augmented reality concert that the boys had been in. The fans loved it. We had to work with lots of stakeholders to make this fly including the management company, the label, the creative house and of course the boys themselves. Oh and the album went No 1 for the first time in 13 years!

Watch Outs - Think Big - don't be put off by very short time frames, if the PR & advertising machine is aligned & treats the Pop up as integral to the campaign, the fans will come.

Ideal time: 3-7 days

Example below: Pet Shop Boys pop up at Boxpark, Shoreditch

7. Mid Mall Concessions

Sometimes brands get confused by mid mall concessions and think they are pop ups ... they aren't as typically the lease length is a much longer than a pop up spec. However these are brilliant if you are looking for extra places to sell and you don't want to invest in your own store. Clearly the concession design is crucial so too the product mix ... definitely worth considering for E commerce brands or food /FMCG brands who want to test and learn sales on the high street.

Watch Outs - location mapping is fundamental and so too the product mix and replenishment particularly if you are a food or drink brand. A good store manager is a must too.

Ideal Length - Test and learn for 3 months and then extend if successful. Don't be tied into long term leases by the shopping mall operators.

Example below: Haus Protein

Latest Pop Up news.

Not a day goes by when there isn't an announcement about another Pop up shop activity & I saw this one earlier today which caught my eye ... Ecover are putting up a pop up called The Rubbish Cafe to reinforce Ecovers recycled washing up bottles. That's a lovely brand play and its open 3&4th May ...

If you want to know more about how to put on a great pop up experience for your brand, get in touch today.

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