Why big brands are choosing ‘undercover’ pop-ups?
19 Jul 2019
For those that claim brick-and-mortar retail is dead, we’d like to draw your attention to a new wave of ‘fake’ high street activations. These ‘undercover’ pop-ups, as we like to call them, are using the visual language of the traditional high street to launch stores. The combination of nostalgic retail mixed with today’s short attention spans has proven hugely successful in stirring conversation. This offers a smart solution for businesses that feel overshadowed and need to drag the spotlight back.
Concentrating on brand awareness over sales, this style of pop-up generates quick win press and a fleeting moment of fame. Generally speaking, these activations are short but sweet; experiential, full of gimmicks and offering generous giveaways. Tenuous links abound, such as a crisp brand launching a travel agent or a doughnut inspired record store, but why did they work? Here we’ve picked our favourite out-the-box ideas:
Stormzy X Relentless: Newsagent
To launch the Grime artist’s collaboration with the energy drinks brand, Stormzy appeared in the Brewer Street space in Soho. Inside the #Merky style newsagents, the first 50 fans through the door were served the limited edition #Merky Relentless Origin drinks by the man himself. Visitors could also help themselves to Stormzy branded cornershop classics, such as sweets and chocolate. A good example of capitalising on the celebrity.
Sainsbury's: Vegan Butcher
To coincide with World Meat Free Week, Sainsbury’s launched a three-day pop up in Bethnal Green, which appeared as a traditional butchers. The ‘meaty’ cuts, joints and sausages found in the shop were made from plant-based ingredients, such as mushroom, jackfruit and pea protein. Products were weighed and wrapped, just like a traditional store, and the butcher was on hand to suggest recipes. As the vegan movement grows, other brands should consider following suit.
Krispy Kreme: Record Store
In 70’s style branding, doughnut brand Krispy Kreme opened ‘Doughtown Records’ where vinyls were sold by ‘flavour’ titles, such as ‘Pecan Pie’ and ‘Cherry Pie.’ Circular vinyl posters, synonymous with the classic doughnut shape, were plastered on the walls and the space hosted live music too. All proceeds from tickets bought to watch Krispy Kreme’s ‘The Pie-Ettes’ singers went to charity partner Teenage Cancer Trust. Of course, plenty of sweet snacks and shakes were available to nibble on during performances. Nostalgia continues to reign and here’s more proof.
Design Museum: Estate Agent
Ahead of the new major exhibition at the Design Museum, ‘Moving to Mars’ opening in October 2019, passers-by were invited into an ‘estate agents’ to sample life on Mars. Located in Great Windmill Street in Soho, fashion designer Christopher Raeburn contributed with spaceman costumes whilst hydroponic kitchen units presented alien like plants. Refreshments took form in Campari branded drinks and flying saucer sweets. One to consider if looking to generate hype around an upcoming event.
Walkers: Travel Agent
Highlighting their exotic flavours, Walkers crisps opened Sensations Global Travel to promote cheap flights to ‘Delicious Destinations,’ such as Bangkok, Bologna and New Orleans. Every Thursday for three weeks, one hundred travellers could buy flights for £1.99 (the price of a crisp packet) to the foodie destinations that inspired their most popular packets. Participants were required to simply sign up to the travel agency, bookmark the page and stay online between 7pm and 8pm. Not an obvious partnership, but cross industry collaborations do work.
Launched in New York, this orange ‘Hermèsmatic’ offered complimentary dip-dye services on Hermès silk scarves. Washing machines transformed a scarf in 24 to 48 hours and vintage dip dye pieces were on sale too. Hermès branding covered the space where orange dominated, from washing baskets to waiting room chairs. Here sharp design was key to attract fashion lovers.