The great indoors

In the Spring issue of Field Marketing magazine an interesting piece on preparing for an all-weather Summer appeared. It is true that Shopping Centres can be a nice support for outdoor campaigns offering space allied to weather certainty – and proximity to retail. Here is a ‘reprint’ of that thought piece, courtesy of Brandspace.

The dazzling sunny day outside today is accompanied by ironic comments on Facebook, camera angles squinted round to get that bit of blue in the top corner, “is that really the sun?”

The snow, which once stirred up emotions of surprise and delight in some quarters, disdain and despair in others, is universally popular in its departure after a winter most Europeans feel has been overlong.

The Summer is coming, ice cream, sunglasses and cider brands are all warming up their roadshow vehicles whilst setting the chiller vans to cool and the cool vibe to sub-zero. But these brands will hit the road alongside a host of brands that enjoy the time of year – the emergence from hibernation – but are not actually reliant for success on a direct hit of sunshine.

Last Summer we saw many of these brands drawn into the great outdoors, often because that was where the action was – the Olympic arenas, the Hyde Park jamborees.

If you look through the photographs in Brand X last year you’d imagine that Britain was sunny every day. Magazine photographers are every bit as keen to angle round for the sun as Facebook reporters are when diarising their day out for friends and relations. In truth we know that many days – such as Sainsbury’s Jubilee event in Hyde Park were predominantly umbrella up occasions. Some events – Silverstone prelims anyone? – were almost washed away.

These days brands work well outdoors, creating shelter and entertainment for visitors, even when the event itself is struggling. They typically keep going and turn shelter into an attraction, whether rain or even too much sun is the visitor issue.

For many brands, however, the big stages, the big launches and the big events need to evoke the outdoors whilst actually being indoors. These are tours that want to kick start, not just with a buzzy atmosphere, but with perfect conditions for performers, a dry stage, dry electronics, dry press lenses and an event that can be kept on schedule. Predictable schedules keep both press and social media reporters in the right place at the right time with stories to anticipate and report. Promotional staff too will benefit by looking their best and not hanging around whilst waiting for a passing squall.

Quite often the more exhilarating and outdoorsy the brand event, the more need there is to make it happen indoors. Winter weather was no problem for iD Experiential this year when exciting Asus fans with slacklining (see BX news) because they did so inside Bluewater Shopping Centre. Windows 8 took the same route with its massive indoor slide. In recent years big stage music events, NBA basketball and massive inflatables have all thrived in shopping centres, and cut down versions have also been able to take these high energy events on tour to smaller shopping centres around the country.

The big shopping centres have the space and height to provide crowd-pleasing theatre, with natural viewing points and balconies that help avoid some set up costs, whilst also guaranteeing a smiling, excited and above all dry attendance.

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