Escapism: Pop-up branding

Evian has also gotten in on the trend, with a pop-up spa in Toronto's upscale Yorkville neighbourhood during last fall's Toronto International Film Festival. Inspired by the Evian-les-Bains spa in the French Alps, it offered passersby complimentary massages and facials, and leveraged its prime spot in the heart of the film fest to generate buzz for the brand.

Evian has also gotten in on the trend, with a pop-up spa in Toronto’s upscale Yorkville neighbourhood during last fall’s Toronto International Film Festival. Inspired by the Evian-les-Bains spa in the French Alps, it offered passersby complimentary massages and facials, and leveraged its prime spot in the heart of the film fest to generate buzz for the brand.

On a more extreme scale, Montreal ad agency Sid Lee orchestrated Red Bull’s March ‘Crashed Ice’ event that transformed Quebec City into a frozen race track with over 100,000 skaters. The agency has also launched unique Adidas ‘Cubes’

(stores-within-stores at several Finish Line sporting goods mall locations) in the States that offer a unique enclosed environment with music, videos and motion-detected product descriptions for 12- to 18-year-old mall rats. Sid Lee sees so much brand-building potential in improving the retail experience, the shop recently partnered with architectural firm Aedifica to strengthen its ability to maximize consumer touchpoints at retail.

‘It’s about the meaning of interactions as opposed to the frequency of interactions,’ says Jean-François Bouchard, president of Sid Lee. ‘I believe that today, it’s no longer simply about reach and frequency. It’s about intensity.’

From Nike to Procter & Gamble, more and more companies are creating memorable brand experiences to help consumers escape the daily grind, if only for a moment.

P&G’s beauty boutique

For one month this spring, passersby on Toronto’s upscale Bloor Street could duck into Procter & Gamble Canada’s ‘Look Fab Studio’ for free beauty tips, makeovers and workshops from industry experts like celebrity makeup artist Paul Venoit.

The studio, conceived by Chicago-based agency Upshot, aimed to help establish P&G as an authority on beauty, and to position beauty brands Cover Girl, Pantene, Nice ‘n’ Easy, Crest, Olay and Venus as everyday tools to achieve ‘beauty transformations.’ And, of course, to have women – Yorkville fashion mavens and urban professionals alike – tell their friends about the unusual beauty studio they saw to create word of mouth.

‘There’s a reason we positioned the store at Yonge and Bloor – it’s a high-traffic area,’ says Joyce Law, external relations manager at P&G Canada. ‘We want people to walk into our studio, interact with our brands and walk out feeling transformed.’

To help generate buzz, interviews with celebrities like singer Holly Cole aired on CTV’s eTalk Daily from the studio. Over 6,000 visitors passed through over the first two weeks.

Nike courts barbershop crowd

Nike Canada – with a little help from agencies Taxi and Cossette Media – visually transformed several barbershops in Toronto and Montreal to look like basketball courts for three months earlier this year. The effort aimed to engage 16- to 18-year-old urban ballers in a discussion about the ‘Second Coming’ of NBA stars like Kobe Bryant, Steve Nash and LeBron James, who are creating excitement around the game not seen since the days of Michael Jordan and Magic Johnson. It supported the launch of the Nike Air Force 25 basketball shoe, which Nike is positioning as the latest innovation in the Air Force line. Says Taxi’s group account director, Russell Stedman: ‘Because the Air Force sub-brand resonates so strongly within urban culture, the communications were not just welcomed but talked about.’