2018 was hailed as “the year of the pop-up” and just as we all hoped, brands from across the world brought their experiential marketing A-Game for 12 months of interesting, interactive and innovative temporary brick and mortar events! Let’s take a look at some of the pop-up go team’s favourites.


WINNER: Coach – Life Coach
What does Conney Island, a fashion boutique and tarot cards all have in common? You’ll have to ask Coach for that one, since that’s just a few of the elements they brought together for their Life Coach pop-up last June. Life Coach was set up as a sort of anti-shop, providing a sharp contrast to Coach’s flagship store situated only a few dozen blocks away. The event celebrated the heritage of New York while also encouraging self-discovery and reflection. The pop-up started with a completely white duplicate of a New York City subway station. At a booth in the centre of the space were stickers and paint markers which visitors could use to decorate the surroundings in the tradition of street art and graffiti. The next section was a nod to Coney Island - a room full of flashing neon lights, arcade games, and all other manner of traditional carnival ephemera. The floor was a boardwalk made up from pieces salvaged from New York's amusement park island when it was destroyed during Hurricane Sandy. Finally, visitors entered an enchanted forest, dotted with white tents that housed tarot card readers - the final mode of self-reflection and a push into the future before visitors returned to the streets of New York. There’s a wealth of forward-thinking brands that provided amazing customer experiences last year. However, what stood out for us when it came to Coach is that they created an event that didn’t exactly echo their brand, in fact it contrasted in certain areas, defying their norms to create an environment that wasn’t about “what their brand needed”, but rather “what their customer wanted”.


WINNER: NIKE X Skepta pop-up
2018 was a massive year for fashion collaborations and the best way to make the most of a new hyped up partnership is with a pop-up. Nike teamed up with London-based MC Skepta to create sneakers that were officially launched with a pop-up in Paris. The event itself was designed with a series of retro-influenced gaming elements, including basketball hoops, bowling lanes and Space Invaders. This is a perfect example of taking fashion beyond the rails and trying something different when it comes to temporary retail events. Creating a fun, interactive and consumer focused environment was a great way for Nike X Skepta to inject personality into their product and set a tone which would leave customers wanting more.


WINNER: The Egg House
This year we’ve seen an ice-cream museum, a pop-up ode to pizza and a celebration of candy - but none of them can touch The Egg House which popped up in New York last April. The temporary exhibit invited visitors to imagine the home of a fictional personified egg character named Ellis. F.Y.I The Egg House’s Instagram account tells Ellis’s full life story in more depth (hats off for the back-story, if you’re going to do something – go all in!). The strange set-up featured six themed rooms which included a pool filled with caviar-shaped balls, a human-sized egg crate, an egg-shell swing suspended from the ceiling and many other mind-scrambling breakfast-centric surprises. The idea was conceived by an anonymous founder looking to create a fantastical escape from the real world, and it was brought to life by a group of young talents who graduated from NYU, Parsons, SVA, and Pratt Institute with backgrounds in art, interior design, and marketing. The idea may have been cracked, but weird and wonderful equals interesting - and grabbing the attention of people within the general media or across social media is what generates the high foot traffic that we see these sorts of events receiving. So, although we still don’t quite get the point of The Egg House - it certainly got us talking!


WINNER: Dr Oetker - Chocolate Pizzeria
Obviously, the best food pop-up has to include an event where the furniture was edible! Dr Oetker ticked all the boxes with its pop-up pizzeria made entirely of chocolate in Toronto’s Queen West neighbourhood. Promoting the brand’s new chocolate dessert pizza, this event scored a hole-in-one by tying in three key elements: social media, concept and timing. Before the opening, Dr. Oetker introduced the #chocolatedreams hashtag on social media and asked Canadians what their chocolate dreams were. The company then made some of them a reality. One follower requested a chocolate diamond and Dr. Oetker was happy to oblige, working with a company that specializes in man-made diamonds. They took a chocolate pizza that had been broken down into powder form and placed it in a high-pressure, high-temperature oven to create the .54 carat diamond! The pop-up launched on National Pizza Day, staying open right through to Valentine’s Day – and if that isn’t reason enough for a pizza/chocolate mash up – then we don’t know what is!


WINNER: Cadbury’s – Glass and a half pop-up shop
Pop-ups are a great way to promote a cause or brand message that goes beyond selling product. Our 2018 favourite is from across the pond in London where Cadbury set up a purple newsagent shop, inviting people to trade in their knick-knacks for a bar of Dairy Milk. The pop-up tied in with an ad campaign that depicted a little girl buying chocolate for her mum with the things she had in her purse such as buttons and a plastic ring. Benazir Barlet-Batada, brand equity lead at Cadbury, told Campaign Online: "The ad itself is a way to show small acts of kindness and generosity in the real world and tying in this real-life experience is a way to show and give generosity back to real people..." Crying? No, we’ve just gotten something in our eye…


Being named pop-up royalty is basically our pop-up go equivalent to announcing prom King/Queen. If a pop-up was a run, then Google completed a triathlon last year! They had a Google mini-golf pop-up, the Google donut shop pop-up and currently on the go is their Google Hardware Store pop-up. Not only are their ideas fresh and interesting enough to draw in large crowds – we have to give it to them, when Google does one of these temporary events, they think of everything, down to the very last detail and that makes the difference. Their events are brimming with tech, which make sense given the brand’s industry, using AI and automated systems to beguile visitors. Google is known for its touch of fun and bringing that into their pop-ups, truly embodies what a pop-up event should be – it should be memorable, it should be an experience for the visitor and it most definitely should be fun!

Tags: food, pop-up, retail, Coach, Google, Marketing, Nike, Skepta, The Egg House, Dr Oetker, Cadbury, Chocolate, Fashion, Experiential Marketing, 2019, 2018