Bell melts Olympic fans with the Ice Cube

Built in the heart of the action, Bell's on-site activation has fans fully immersed in the brand experience.

It’s early afternoon in Vancouver on Sunday, Feb 15. The sun is shining, the Games are just days old and hundreds of people are lined up in front of the Bell Ice Cube to get a part of the action.

Situated on Robson St. at the foot of BC Place stadium, Bell’s cube is one of the most interactive, large-scale consumer-facing sponsorship activations at the Games. A glass-fronted structure meant to invoke the eponymous ice cube, the venue was developed in concept by Bell, with execution by BC-based Fireworks Marketing Group and branding and collateral handled by Toronto’s Zulu Alpha Kilo. Admission is free and open to the public.

Over 10,000 people went through the cube in the first two full days (Feb. 13 and 14) and when we caught up with Loring Phinney, Bell’s VP of corporate and Olympic marketing, he said the Cube has been everything they hoped it would be: a showcase for the brand and the products it represents.

‘It’s a brand experience,’ he says. ‘I’ve had people come up to me and say ‘I didn’t know that Bell was so cool.’ There are lots of people with tickets in the city and lots of people who don’t. And they see this and go ‘Now there’s a place where I can watch, where I can hang out.’

The Cube is being promoted to fans with an OOH buy, handled by Cossette, that includes bus shelters all over the downtown core and street teams handing out promotional cards inviting people to the cube.

Inside the structure – which is actually a tent but doesn’t look like it – the walls are decked in flat-screen TVs, showing French and English feeds from the Consortium and live feeds from various venues. The screens are silent, but visitors can plug into each screen via an alien-like cord dangling from the ceiling (kind of like the Na’vi’s tails in Avatar, see foreground of photo) with Bell headphones provided when they walk in. When we were first there, a speed skating event had the packed house riveted and jostling for cord space.

The middle of the venue features about eight interactive motion-activated kiosks (or ‘cubes’) featuring various video stories, such as athlete profiles or historical Games footage, and the back features internet-enabled flat screens and keyboards where people can really do whatever they want, although the VANOC site (which Bell hosts) and are left on the screens for people to peruse.

At the front is a stage, where past and present Olympic athletes and celebrities are interviewed daily by five-time Olympian (and Bell-sponsored spokesperson) Charmaine Crooks.

At the back of the venue is a fully staffed Bell store, where people exiting the Cube can see Bell products, interact with them, and purchase them if they wish.

‘I believe this is almost a perfect manifestation of our brand,’ Phinney continues. ‘To me this is exactly what our brand stands for: it’s youthful, it’s energetic and clean and it puts the products and services up front. We’ve done lots of great work over the years but you can see the hero in this space is the product.’