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Campaigns

Balmain to host public music concerts around menswear show

Balmain is adding a musical element to its spring/summer 2020 menswear runway show in Paris, with a series of live concerts that will follow the close of the catwalk.

In the spirit of Balmain creative director Olivier Rousteing’s ambition to “democratize and modernize fashion”, the events will also be accessible to the public. A total of 1,500 free tickets will be made available on the Balmain website.

The show’s musical elements tie into the annual Fête De La Musique, a celebration that takes place on the same day, June 21, throughout the French capital.

For the activation, Balmain is set to take over the Jardin des Plantes, erecting a temporary space for its audience. The runway show’s soundtrack will be provided by French DJ Gesaffelstein, whom Balmain dressed for his show at Coachella.

Olivier Rousteing has in the past already championed his ambition to democratize customer’s access to the brand’s universe. In January he launched a dedicated app that allowed fans to see the houses couture live on their phone, as well as play with augmented reality content. In 2015, the French luxury brand also collaborated with fast-fashion retailer H&M on a capsule collection at affordable prices.

This menswear show also encompasses a philanthropic element, supporting the fight against AIDS through the RED organization. All revenue made from food and drink served at the event, alongside merchandise of limited-edition products, will be donated to the fund.

How are you thinking about innovation? We’re all about helping you build innovative integrations and experiences. The Current Global is a consultancy transforming how fashion, beauty and consumer retail brands intersect with technology, powered by a network of top startups. Get in touch to learn more

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Editor's pick sustainability

The North Face to shut stores on Earth Day and encourage exploration

The North Face is launching Explore Mode, a campaign encouraging its employees and customers to explore the outdoors during Earth Day (April 22). As part of the activation, the outdoor brand is also calling for the day to become a national holiday in the US.

On April 22, the brand is shutting down all 113 of its stores in the US and Canada to give its employees time to explore the outdoors. Meanwhile across the globe, the campaign will partner with musicians, artists and culinary influencers at major cities including London, Munich and Paris on a series of experiences.

From a weekend camping at the Mecklenburg lake district near Berlin to helping clean up Butler Memorial Sanctuary trails in New York, TNF searched for activities that would encourage its brand fans to unplug and learn more about the environment. All experiences can be booked via a dedicated page on the brand’s website.

This is the first time TNF has closed its stores for a cause, which aims to match a wider mission to inspire a global movement of exploration and adventure. “As a brand that has been enabling exploration for over 50 years, we believe that when people take time to appreciate and explore the earth, they feel more likely to protect it,” said Tim Bantle, global general manager of lifestyle at The North Face, to Fast Company.

Taking it one step further, the company has also launched a petition to make Earth Day an official national holiday in the US.

Outdoor brands from TNF to Patagonia are upping their efforts in order to bring attention to the importance of keeping the environment clean and sustainable by creating activations that foster a sense of wonderment emotional attachment.

For the past four years, REI has run #OptOutside, an award-winning campaign that sees all of its operations – from stores to factories – shut down on Black Friday in order to encourage employees and consumers to spend more time outside with family and friends, as well as ignite a conversation on overconsumption. REI’s 2018 numbers show the company’s strategy of closing stores on the busiest commerce day of the year is paying off: the co-op reached a record $2.78 billion in revenue, representing 6% growth.

How are you thinking about innovation? We’re all about helping you build innovative integrations and experiences. The Current Global is a consultancy transforming how fashion, beauty and consumer retail brands intersect with technology, powered by a network of top startups. Get in touch to learn more.

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Campaigns Events Retail technology

Swarovski celebrates the holidays with sparkle-themed activations

Swarovski's "Sparkling Box
Swarovski’s “Sparkling Box” in Covent Garden

Swarovski is launching a host of interactive experiences in the UK, hoping to spread delight in the run-up to Christmas.

The “Sparkling Box” activation, which popped up at London’s Covent Garden area last week, features a giant box where each façade offers a different digitally-enabled experience for passersby. It includes a GIF photobooth encouraging customers to take a photo and share on social media;  an interactive wall featuring a virtual snowscape that showers visitors in digital snowflakes; a video showing the jewelry brand’s Christmas advert; and a guide for Swarovski’s must-have gifts for the festive season.

The box is set to tour the UK over the coming weeks, appearing in Manchester next, followed by Glasgow and Birmingham.

In keeping with the sparkle theme, Swarovski is also set to launch “Sparkle Street” at London’s Westfield White City mall location, which will feature a Christmas tree accompanied by digital advertising, creating a festive landscape for visitors to take pictures in front of that will then be shown on a large screen opposite the installation.

Lastly, the brand is also teaming up with a team of black cab drivers in the city, who will be handing out Swarovski gifts to lucky passengers throughout December. 

Brands are increasingly diversifying the way they celebrate special events throughout the year with activations that aim to surprise & delight unassuming shoppers. Last week, Harvey Nichols visited London offices with a very special musical performance, while allowing consumers to buy the festive clothes the choir was wearing on the day directly on Instagram.

Are you thinking innovatively enough in your brand messaging? We’re all about finding you the perfect partners to do so. TheCurrent is a consultancy transforming how fashion, beauty and consumer retail brands intersect with technology. We deliver innovative integrations and experiences, powered by a network of top technologies and startups. Get in touch to learn more.

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e-commerce technology Uncategorized

Gwynnie Bee teams up with Amazon Alexa on unboxing adventure

Gwynnie Bee
Gwynnie Bee

Size-inclusive fashion subscription service Gwynnie Bee has teamed up with Amazon Alexa to offer an interactive voice activation feature that members can trigger when unboxing their purchases.

“Gwynnie Bee is leading the charge in using conversational interfaces to deliver a highly personalized and interactive member experience,” says George Goldenberg, EVP of technology, data & operations at Gwynnie Bee. “We find these types of experiences deepen our relationship with our members and increase their level of engagement with the service”.  

The experience takes customers through different everyday scenarios where the brand’s service can be put to use. For example, a customer could say to Alexa: “Hey, Alexa, ask Gwynnie Bee to unlock my weekday adventure.” This triggers a story about how an intern spills coffee on the customer’s Gwynnie Bee dress, and upon returning the garment to Gwynnie Bee, the brand will pay for dry cleaning, free of charge.

By adding this feature to its service capabilities, Gwynnie Bee is reassuring its customers about the level of convenience it provides, while distinguishing itself from other subscription rental competitors.

As customers expect an increasingly seamless experience, voice is becoming an important tool to bridge the gap between a physical product and a digital platform. Gwynnie Bee’s announcement  comes two months after H&M launched a partnership with the Google Assistant that suggests interior design inspiration and mood boards for every room of the house. 

How are you thinking about innovation? We’re all about helping you build innovative integrations and experiences. TheCurrent is a consultancy transforming how fashion, beauty and consumer retail brands intersect with technology, powered by a network of top startups. Get in touch to learn more.

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Campaigns Editor's pick

The North Face reaches global community with “Walls Are Meant For Climbing” campaign

The North Face

The North Face has expanded its “Walls Are Meant For Climbing” campaign this year, aiming to reach a global community of up to 100,000 people and re-evaluate perceptions of what walls represent.

The campaign supports the brand’s second installation of its annual “Global Climbing Day”, which will take place on August 18. Partnering with a multitude of indoor climbing spaces globally, the brand will offer free climbing lessons for anyone attending on the day, donating $1 per person to the non-profit The Khumbu Climbing Center in Nepal. It is also launching a limited edition collection available for purchase now.

According to the outdoor brand, the aim of the campaign is to create a community and reflect its founding values. “Since 1966, we’ve seen walls not as obstacles but as opportunities. They are mirrors that reflect the best versions of ourselves. Walls do not divide us, walls bring us together. Walls are meant for climbing.”

With this initiative The North Face aims to reach a much larger audience than in 2017, where the campaign attracted 20,000 people to participate in climbing activities globally.

It has also taken this as an opportunity to let female climbers tell the stories of how they started their journey of conquering walls.

Under the banner “Climbing, the Great Equalizer”, the brand has released a total of four inspirational videos, each illustrating a unique story from a diverse set of characters – featuring three female climbers and one male. This week’s release – which has so far been viewed over 300.000 times on YouTube –  tells the story of Monserrat Matehuala, who dedicates the video to “my brown girls from the ‘hood’.”

This links back to the brand’s efforts to celebrate female explorers with their “She Move Mountains” campaign launched in April.

 

Brands are upping the ante when speaking to their consumers in a way that mirrors their values and in particular, their anxieties, in modern societies. In a politically charged landscape, encouraging positive activism is an increasingly important tool – as also seen by Patagonia’s Action Works platform which encourages charitable behavior.

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Campaigns Editor's pick

Hunter flies giant hot air balloon boot in experiential campaign

Hunter "The Original Flying Boot"
Hunter “The Original Flying Boot”

Hunter has launched its largest ever experiential campaign with “The Original Flying Boot”, which sees a 120-foot wellington boot-shaped hot air balloon fly across the globe.

Setting off from the brand’s birthplace in Scotland, the boot will be appearing at festivals, sporting events, shows and other key outdoor moments across Europe and the US throughout the year.

The boot, which features all of the iconic wellington (or “welly”) boot’s design details, aims to promote the brand’s position as a British export. The balloon will travel down from Scotland to London in July before heading over to Europe, where it will appear at major events in countries like Spain and Belgium. It will eventually make its way to the US to engage with the brand’s largest overseas market.

The campaign is also being supported by a social media element where users are invited to post pictures of the hot air balloon using the #HunterOriginal hashtag for a chance to win Hunter prizes.

Brands are increasingly tapping into outdoor experiential campaigns not only as a way to keep their name front of mind, but create opportunities for earned media. The more aesthetically-pleasing or original the campaign is, the more it is photographed by consumers and shared on social. Similarly this year for Valentine’s Day, British womenswear and accessories label, Anya Hindmarch, released its Chubby Hearts activation where gigantic inflated red hearts – similar to the design of its handbags that season – were scattered across iconic London spots such as Battersea power station and Hyde Park.

Hunter "The Original Flying Boot"
Hunter “The Original Flying Boot”

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Campaigns

ASICS unveils blackout running track to highlight the importance of mental strength

The ASICS Blackout Track
The ASICS Blackout Track

ASICS has unveiled the Blackout Track, a sports track in east London aiming to help runners win the ‘mental race’ by freeing them from any distractions.

The 150-meter course is set in complete darkness and features no technology, no music, no finish line and none of the other comforts associated with training for a marathon, thus forcing the runner to focus on synchronizing the mind and body. The initiative supports the launch of the Gel Kayano™ 25 shoe.

“ASICS was founded on the belief that a sound body fuels a sound mind, so this campaign goes right to the heart of who we are as a brand,” said ASICS’s global CMO Paul Miles. “Our promise is to bring our founder’s vision to life in the modern-age – where negative distractions of the mind can prevent us from reaching our potential and going the distance.”

During the launch campaign, the track will also host a series of events to demonstrate the idea that in running it’s not the strongest physique that goes the long distance, but the strongest mind. Events include a 10K ‘mental marathon’ and a scientific experiment that shows the importance of mental strength for physical fitness.

“By exposing how easily the mind can be influenced, the campaign is designed to remind athletes of any ability about the importance of training both the mind and body, to reach their goals in sport and life,” said Fiona Berwick, strategic planner in ASICS’ global marketing team.

The track initiative was inspired by a technique practiced by long distance runners such as the Japanese, in which they run in loops for one or two miles without any technology.

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Editor's pick Podcast

HBO on how Westworld engages with superfans

Liz Bacelar and HBO's Steven Cardwell
Liz Bacelar and HBO’s Steven Cardwell

At the core of the success of Westworld – HBO’s hit show that has had the most successful series debut in its history – is its engagement with fans, says Steven Cardwell, director of program marketing at the network.

By creating a series of immersive and interactive experiences to promote the show, HBO has found the secret sauce to engagement. “The fanbase are going to be your biggest evangelizers. They’re the people that you want to make sure you’re treating almost as partners in a way to help really amplify your messaging,” he says on the latest episode of TheCurrent Innovators podcast. “Give them the keys to the car and let them drive it because they’re going to be able to speak organically to that fan community.”

Listen here: Apple Podcasts | Android | Google Play | Stitcher | RSS

Following this year’s SXSW festival, where Westworld arguably hosted the most buzzed about brand activation, Cardwell speaks to our founder Liz Bacelar on how important it is to keep the conversation going with fans in-between seasons, which in Westworld’s case, has been an 18 month-long wait. In a media space so cluttered with scripted and reality programming, it is important to find other avenues to engage with fans before and after the episode has aired, he notes.

That theory resonates heavily with the fashion and retail space, where a multitude of stores are fighting for relevance in tough market conditions. Focusing on superfans and driving experiences that engender engagement, is key to advocacy and loyalty, Cardwell says.

For those unfamiliar with Westworld, it takes place in a fictional Wild West-themed amusement park titled Sweetwater, where hosts are androids who allow paying guests to engage in whatever activity they want with no retaliation. The SXSW experience saw a recreation of said amusement park in deserted land outside Austin, Texas, where guests who managed to snag coveted tickets were fully immersed in the Westworld universe for three hours.

The experience was undeniably HBO’s moment in the spotlight at a festival that is slowly evolving as a platform that mirrors culture, rather than glorifies tech. It also taught many brands attending, including an unprecedented number of fashion and beauty players, that if you build an experience that satisfies the need for escapism, consumers will come – even if that means queuing with strangers for a bus to an unknown destination.

On the podcast, Cardwell also talks about why shiny new technology wasn’t central to the experience, despite it being at the crux of the show’s concept, and why authenticity in building brand moments is key.

Catch up with all of our episodes of TheCurrent Innovators here. The series is a weekly conversation with visionaries, executives and entrepreneurs. It’s backed by TheCurrent, a consultancy transforming how consumer retail brands intersect with technology. We deliver innovative integrations and experiences, powered by a network of top technologies and startups. Get in touch to learn more.

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Campaigns social media

Anya Hindmarch kicks off LFW with city-wide love installation

Anya Hindmarch Chubby Heart at Wellington Arch, on Hyde Park Corner, London
Anya Hindmarch’s Chubby Heart at Wellington Arch in London

British designer Anya Hindmarch has sent out a love letter to the city of London, in the form of giant ‘chubby hearts’ that will be suspended above, or squashed within a series of 29 London landmarks.

The hearts serve as a declaration of love for the city. After emerging on February 14 for Valentine’s Day at Wellington Arch on Hyde Park Corner, and as a video takeover on Landsec’s Piccadilly Lights outdoor billboard for 40 seconds, they will now be travelling around the city throughout London Fashion Week. Each evening the balloons disappear, only to re-appear at a new landmark in the morning, so that as many people as possible will get to enjoy the spectacle.

Hindmarch designed the balloons, inspired by her SS18 collection, which includes chubby, cartoon-like bags and this is where the name came from, as she wanted to bring the same fun and playfulness to this project.

The designer said: “The idea for this project came to me whilst sitting in a packed Royal Festival Hall. I was in awe of the resilience of Londoners and its visitors. Tying giant helium filled Chubby Hearts on to buildings all over the city is simply a ‘surprise love letter to London’ as a tribute to its strength and to celebrate our amazing creative city.”

Chubby Hearts by Anya Hindmarch
Chubby Hearts by Anya Hindmarch

The mayor of London, the British Fashion Council, the City of Westminster, councils, landowners, businesses, districts and the Civil Aviation Authority came together to create this project.

Ocean Outdoor is also supporting the campaign on other screens across London, including in Leicester Square and at both Westfield shopping centres.

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said: “As London Fashion Week showcases the capital to the world, these huge heart balloons animating our great spaces and architecture will show once again that London is open to talent and creativity and gives it a warm welcome.”

Councillor Robert Davis MBE DL, deputy leader and cabinet member for business, culture and heritage at Westminster City Council, added: “Love is traditionally in the air on Valentine’s Day, and will be quite literally over our many famous landmarks as the inflatable chubby hearts rise into the air for the day. What better way for Londoners and our many visitors to celebrate our love for the capital and the West End.”

You can follow the hashtag #chubbyhearts on Instagram to receive updates from each location, or visit the website to see the schedule and map.

Chubby Hearts mapped out across the city
Chubby Hearts mapped out across the city

Categories
Campaigns Retail

Converse pushes hype beast culture with London hotel activation

The Converse One Star Hotel in London
The Converse One Star Hotel in London

Converse is opening a pop-up hotel in London to mark the drop of its new One Star collection this weekend.

The One Star Hotel, based in Shoreditch, will see rooms curated by artists including A$AP Nast, Yung Lean and MadeMe, as well as two days of gigs, workshops and conversations.

A dream for sneakerheads and music fans alike, the activation promises “staff with attitude, loud neighbours, the freshest sneakers as standard and all-nighters in shoebox rooms”. Live music will also reportedly come from Princess Nokia, IAMDDB, SlowThai, Skinny Macho and more.

What’s interesting is to see how Converse is building hype by following numerous tried and tested rules emerging in sneaker drop culture.

Teaser information from both the brand and influencers involved in the project has been released in advance, for instance. Included is a supposed product list driving curiosity among fans interested in key pieces, such as the collaboration with A$AP Nast that was only released in limited edition in the US previously.

A dedicated microsite meanwhile, provides not only further details of the event, but a series of tongue-in-cheek hotel reviews.

The campaign, which happens to fall during London Fashion Week, taps heavily into a cultural movement surrounding streetwear and sneakers at present, whereby pushing scarcity is king, not just in terms of limited edition products, but particularly unique experiences in which to get hold of them.

We’ve seen this achieved by brands including Supreme, Palace, adidas and Nike in a big way. Meanwhile, the likes of Vetements launching a laundry pop-up in Los Angeles is another example, as is the first Adidas Originals x Alexander Wang collaboration, which secretly dropped in different cities around the world out the back of 17 trucks in trash bags as though the items were on the black market.

The Converse One Star Hotel opens February 16-17 at 155 New North Road, London N1 6TA.