2016 was our agency's biggest and baddest year yet. We kicked it all off at The Sundance Film Festival in January with SundanceTV, hopped to San Francisco for the Super Bowl with NFL Style, came home to NYC for a minute to bring The Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition to the masses and surprise the west side with a giant bong, shot down to Austin for breakfast tacos and Comedy Central's @Midnight Live at SXSW, skipped over to Nashville to build HGTV a lodge, overnighted to VidCon with DreamWork's Trolls' giant rainbow box, introduced you all to our friends from South Park at Comic-Con, jumped around the east coast with BET's Summer Fan Front, and opened the skies in LA for this season's emotional Walking Dead premiere.
And that's not even the half of it.
While we've always been strategic, we kicked off 2016 with the goal to be purposeful with our experiential strategies. It’s our job to create a narrative for our clients because every event should tell a cohesive story. We drank way too much coffee and ate way too many carbs, but it propelled us to create magic day after day with our partners (award winning magic actually). Check out some of the most memorable magic moments from 2016 below:
Sundance is one of the most sought-after, recognizable, and celebrity-packed film festivals in the world, so who better to represent the fest than the network it’s named after. SundanceTV HQ has became a staple each year in the mountains of Utah - inside the cozy cabin, consumers, filmmakers, actors, producers, and press could all talk shop, commiserate about the cold, and warm up with a Hot Toddy.
SundanceTV and The Hollywood Reporter hosted an official festival kick-off party as well as panels featuring indie actors and filmmakers John Krasinski, Bryce Dallas Howard, Viggo Mortensen, John Carney, and Diego Luna. Additional storytelling events, cocktail hours, panels, and even an oxygen bar (gotta stay youthful for the camera) inside HQ were hosted by Brookside Chocolate, GEICO, Lay’s, and Don Julio + Stella Artois, and LeagalZoom.
Over 13,000 festival attendees visited SundanceTV HQ - that’s a lot of coats to check. Overall, there were 22.57 million total media impressions and 952 social posts about SundanceTV HQ. Until next year, you can find us binge watching indie docs and pre-ordering snowboots...
Sports Illustrated Swim City
Introduced in 2015, New York City's Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Fan Fest, aptly referred to as Swim City, is a public event inside of Chelsea's Altman Building. Featuring appearances by the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition's cast of models, including Gigi Hadid, Lily Aldridge, Rose Bertram, Barbara Palvin, and Chanel Iman among others, the ladies participated in live Q&A and autograph sessions with fans.
The two-day event featured live music, a Schick Hydro Barbershop with free shaves (and the chance to win a shave from an Swimsuit model - hope they know their way around a razor!), a Lane Bryant Swimsuit Lifestyle Bungalow and photo booth, a VIP Lexus Lounge, SI Swimsuit merchandise, a digital shop, exclusive experiences from Sports Illustrated partners, and an endless supply of shareable moments. On social media, the official hashtag #SISwim2016 was shared in 1.13K Instagram posts with more than 1.85 billion total impressions, including photos from models/Insta-celebs Gigi Hadid, Ronda Rousey, Chrissy Teigen, Lily Aldridge, Rose Betram, and Chanel Iman.
@midnight Live at SXSW
Comedy Central kicked off SXSW Interactive with @midnight Live from the Parish - located in the heart of it all on Sixth Street. @midnight Live was an official SXSW event which meant excited fans of the show had to line up early with hopes of getting inside.
Host Chris Hardwick brought along friends and show regulars Arden Myrin, Chris Cubas and Doug Benson to compete for POINTS! in front of the lucky crowd of 260 as well as the 15,000+ watching on the official Comedy Central Periscope stream. The show brought in 15,724 Periscope viewers, 72,036 replay viewers, 210,578 Facebook likes, and 297 total comments.
Fans were treated to an open bar prior to the show and we kept the party going with a post-show happy hour and dance party. The theater featured a custom step & repeat, GIF photo booth and a huge, open dance floor. In between jams, fans managed to keep the official, #AtMidnightLive hashtag, blowing up on social media with a total reach of 60,000 social users and more than 70,000 impressions.
Comedy Central's Time Traveling Bong
Pop2Life and Comedy Central set out to surprise stoners and squares alike with a crazy stunt in the middle of New York City. Comedy Central’s mini-series, Time Traveling Bong, staring Ilana Glazer, Lucia Aniello, and Paul W. Downs started as a popular sketch from Glazer and Downs's pre–Broad City days. The three-night television event follows the drug-induced misadventures of a couple cousins who, as the title suggests, discover a smoking device that allows them to travel through time.
The morning of the premiere, on 4/20 (funny how that worked out…) New Yorkers were met with a giant, green surprise on their walks to the office - a 20 ft. tall, smoking bong had seemingly landed in Chelsea Plaza overnight. Throughout the day there were over 600 images uploaded to Instagram with the hashtag #TimeTravelingBong and the hashtag was posted on Twitter at a rate of 6 tweets per hour.
Emblazoned with the Glazer and Down’s red-eyed, glazed over images, passersby stopped in their tracks to get a 360-degree view of giant bong and snap a few ‘grams in the process.
HGTV Lodge at CMA Fest
CMA Fest attendees in Nashville were treated to more than 20 super intimate country music performances along with meet 'n greets with artists and HGTV talent over the four-day festival. Our gorgeous HGTV Lodge - a 3,500 square ft. concert venue featuring an air-conditioned, 900 square ft. VIP mezzanine lounge, is a one-of-a-kind country music fan experience. One of the most amazing feats within this high profile brand activation is the building of the lodge, which happens in just seven days right in downtown Nashville. Since its inception in 2012, the HGTV Lodge has only gotten more impressive and fans line up hours in advance to get in!
20+ performances each year by some of the hottest names on the country music charts (Keith Urban, Martina McBride, Charles Kelley, Hillary Scott, Zac Brown Band, Frankie Ballard, Cole Swindell, and Darius Rucker just to name a few). This year, the Lodge amped up its social media presence and encouraged fans to share their love of music by uploading photos with the hashtag #HGTVLodge, we launched a custom Spotify playlist, a Snapchat geofilter, and three Facebook Live videos featuring HGTV talent The Property Brothers and Listed Sisters.
The Facebook Live videos, which included a 360 degree tour of the Lodge have a combined total of more than 200,000 views and 15,000 likes. The Lodge Snapchat geofilter was viewed 112,000 times and used in over 1,100 snaps. See you next year Nashville!
Cupcake Challenge at VidCon
VidCon attendees couldn’t get enough of HGTV and Food Network’s cupcake activation, where event attendees could choose their favorite cake flavor and create their own confectionary concoctions with custom hashtag toppers, millions of sprinkles, every color frosting imaginable and a gluten-free option - it’s 2016 after all! Once the tweens, teens and everyone inbetween perfected their designs and decorated takeaway boxes, their cupcakes were immortalized in a 360 degree video shoot, which they could then upload straight to Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram for the chance to win swag giveaways and show off their skills to their fans and followers.
All of this culinary creativity went down in a beautifully designed space featuring everyone’s favorite HGTV and Food Network shows playing on our big screens and a live social wall where cupcake connoisseurs could show off their masterpieces straight from Twitter and Instagram in real time.
The Cupcake Challenge booth was buzzing over the 3-day fest and #CupcakeChallenge was a top 25 trending hashtag alongside of #VidCon2016!
Included among the thousands of VidCon attendees who stopped by to decorate and show off their cupcakes creations were Insta-celebs Hoopz and Vanessa Simmons, with almost 1.5 million followers between them! Thanks to a beautiful booth, social media-centric photo ops, and an endless supply of sprinkles, #CupcakeChallenge earned 8.2 million social impressions over 3 days!
South Park 20 at Comic-Con
South Park, Comedy Central’s often obscene, but always culturally-relevant, animated comedy series brought the snow capped mountains of Colorado to San Diego Comic-Con for the “South Park 20 Experience” at MLK Park - celebrating 20 seasons of satire and synoecism with our favorite foul-mouthed fourth-graders. The activation dropped attendees into the animated world of Cartman and company with 20 life-size scenes of the series’ most memorable moments to date.
Once fans had posted 20 Instagrams of all 20 scenes (alongside the official event hashtag, #SouthPark20, of course) they could venture over to the Coon & Friends Experience from Ubisoft, celebrating the launch of the new video game, South Park: The Fractured But Whole and create a personalized GIF alongside their favorite characters.
But wait, there’s more.
Next to the interactive experience, at the San Diego Wine & Culinary Center, a Hulu viewing lounge allowed fans the chance to recharge their devices and their bodies with a South Park marathon screening Every. Single. Episode from Every. Single. Season. Twenty unique artists honored the 20th season with new work curated by world-renowned pop culture artist Ron English. Fans also visited a retrospective gallery featuring original animation cells from the pilot episode.
Over the 4-day event, #SouthPark20 was posted to Twitter and Instagram a total of 960 times by 723 unique users and earning more than 28 million social impressions!
Hunt for the Yeti
On an overcast Tuesday morning in NYC, locals and tourists alike got an unexpected surprise, when a bus full of 39 yetis descended upon the streets of Manhattan! From Union Square to Flatiron Plaza, the New York Times building to Radio City, the streets were packed with people snapping photos of Travel Channel’s double decker bus of dancing yetis, out to promote the first episode of Travel Channel’s 4-part series, Expedition Unknown: Hunt for the Yeti.
Beyond the yeti bus, Travel Channel had surprises set up all over the island, including a branded coffee truck giving out free iced coffees in Union Square and a live ice sculpting demonstration in Flatiron Plaza. As inhabitants of the Himalayas, yetis are accustomed to the cold!
Throughout the day, Travel Channel’s Caitlin Dunn hosted three Facebook Live videos to give Expedition Unknown fans from around the globe a front row seat to the hijinks happening in NYC. Around 100,000 Facebook fans tuned into the videos to catch the yetis perform a choreographed dance in Flatiron, a live feed of the ice sculptors, and an exclusive, never before seen interview with a yeti, his interpreter, and our yeti wrangler, Michael Stauffer.
The stunt’s official hashtag, #HuntForTheYeti, was blowing up on social media throughout the day, as more and more New Yorkers tweeted, snapped, and ‘gramed about free iced coffee and yeti bus sightings. The hashtag earned over 20 million social media impressions with 581 posts on Twitter and Instagram combined.
"This is Your Happy Place" with DreamWorks Trolls
DreamWorks enlisted Pop2Life to “pop up” throughout the country and create unexpected moments of joy while promoting their epic upcoming animated feature, TROLLS. With more than 30 films under their belt, including the franchises of Shrek, Madagascar, Kung Fu Panda, and How to Train Your Dragon, DreamWorks expected the hype for TROLLS to be huge and unexpected.
Pop2Life jumped at the challenge to help DreamWorks and decided to make the experience personal to everyone who would pass by and interact with the activations, with the thought-provoking declaration to "find your happy place" with a box. The idea to travel the country with a box of surprises allowed the branded event experience to both "own" the happiness it created for passersby and simultaneously maintain a clever and quirky edge.
The box, and it's DreamWorks branded activations, traveled from California to Ohio promoting the movie, before it landed in New York City's Herald Square alongside the film's stars, Justin Timberlake and Anna Kendrick. Weighing over 13,000 lbs. with an additional 2,000 feet of audio and lighting cables and 800 square feet of digital printing, the box fulfilled it's destiny as a "happy place" with the help of YouTube stars and marching bands!
The time the box popped up was at VidCon in Anaheim, complete with a countdown clock. Dozens of curious fans waited anxiously for the clock the strike zero after seeing social posts from their favorite YouTubers. When the box finally opened, a giant Troll wig popped out of the top and the film’s stars, Kandee Johnson, Glozell Green, Ricky Dillon and Meg DeAngelis emerged to the surprise and delight of the waiting crowd.
In Cleveland, the box parked itself downtown before opening up to reveal all 80 members of the Ohio University Marching 110 marching band, playing ‘Can’t Stop the Feeling’ alongside 20 dancers.
Check out the rest of our blog for even more stories from our 2016 activations! See you in 2017!