There’s no denying it, pop-ups are hot. Forget about the timeworn seasonal Halloween costume shop, the latest generation of temporary retail and experiential event spaces are a whole new breed.
They are arousing brand engagement, launching new product lines, incubating startups, raising awareness for worthy causes, and attracting hordes of social media influencers jockeying to be first to get an envy-inducing snap.
Here are five recent pop-ups that are drawing crowds and winning fans on social media:
STANLEY VIDEO FOR CAPTAIN MARVEL
Excitement is high for the first superheroine to headline a Marvel blockbuster, and the Disney-owned brand is leaning in hard on the 1990’s setting of the movie. Last month they dropped a hilariously retro throwback microsite to promote the film.
Their latest nostalgia bomb came in the form of two seemingly obsolete video rental stores quietly placed in malls in Vancouver and Toronto. Stanley Video played a part in a scavenger hunt that tasked visitors with tracking down Disney films in the shop to win a commemorative pin.
THE RUNAWAY BY NEW BALANCE X STRAVA
Athletic footwear brand New Balance is partnering with fitness tracking app Strava on a unique bar concept in anticipation of the London marathon. The Runaway Pub includes a gym and spaces to socialize, but don’t bring any money. The only way to get a pint at this watering hole is to prove your running shoes are more than just a fashion accessory.
Between now and the big race in April, users can log their miles on the Strava app and take on four available challenges. Completing them all, nets runners up to three free beers each for themselves and a friend at New Balance’s temporary pub in London.
GAME OF THRONES BAR
Shoemakers and mobile apps aren’t the only brands that think a pop-up bar makes for a good time. In the runup to the final season of HBO’s long-running fantasy megahit “Game of Thrones,” Replay Lincoln Park, an arcade bar in Chicago, was converted into a temporary Westeros, the fictional setting of the show.
The bar is divided into several locations well known to ‘Throne’ watchers including a Dothraki camp, King’s Landing, and Winterfell. Superfans can purchase a pint of beer in a commemorative goblet and get their picture taken sitting in a full-sized replica of the eponymous Iron Throne.
TREE SPA FOR URBAN HEALING
Pop-ups are inherently quirky and fun, so it’s nice to see people take that attitude and really go wild with it. Artist Colin McMullan is using the format to spread dual messages about the maple syrup industry and environmental sustainability.
For several days in March, Real Art Ways, a contemporary arts organization in Hartford, Connecticut, will host the Tree Spa for Urban Forest Healing. Steam generated from the cooking process of natural maple syrup will be ducted into a pop-up sauna for eight guests at a time. Sap for the syrup was collected from the nearby Keney Park Sustainability Project, and the event will be accompanied by, what else, a pancake breakfast!
CBD, the calming, non-psychoactive hemp supplement, has become big business ever since it was federally legalized last year. That move sparked a rush of green entrepreneurs hoping to claim a foothold in a new and exciting industry.
One such brand, Recess, which makes CBD-infused sparkling beverages, is using hip but serene pop-up shops in major markets like NYC, LA, San Francisco, and Miami to get their name into the public consciousness and pictures of their chicly designed cans onto Instagram feeds.
There’s clearly a reason pop-ups are so popular right now. They are exciting, low-risk opportunities for brands to experiment, express their personalities, and create moments that visitors can’t help but share online.