Finding the right venue for an event here in New York City can be harder than finding a job, an apartment, or even a date. Ok, maybe that’s exaggerating a bit, but it’s still not always an easy task. Part of being a full-service production agency is being able to help clients navigate this process (of finding a venue, not a date).  Offering up the venue is one thing – following through on things like in-house AV requirements, venue capacity, nearby hotels, and of course, availability, can quickly add pages to that venue deck.

In the case of CNN’s “The Movies”, we were fortunate that our client recently relocated their offices to Hudson Yards, so deciding where to execute the event was a little easier this go around. 

As you may be aware, Hudson Yards is the largest private real estate development in the United States by area. It’s New York’s newest neighborhood and home to more than 100 shops and restaurants, offices for major brands and organizations, significant public art and cultural institutions including The Shed and The Vessel, as well as 14 acres of public plazas and gardens.  And if you haven’t tried the milkshakes at Kith, I suggest doing so immediately (after you finish reading this blog post, of course).

One of the many reasons we were excited to work with CNN again is that this would be the first experiential activation of this kind at the venue. Being first to market on anything carries its own weight, especially in the event world. As if there wasn’t enough pressure to execute flawlessly before, this factor certainly weighed heavily on us, in the most exciting way possible.

Happy to say the event was a huge success. We had thousands of visitors, live shots from CNN’s Brooke Baldwin, and even guest appearances from Austin Powers and Cher from Clueless.

Below are a couple shots from the event. There’s even one with yours truly and Akeem, from Coming to America.

MAG CEO Jonathan Margolis poses with CNN The Movies stars.

See? Told you so.

As everyone’s aware, venues themselves can vary as much as the weather forecast on event day.  There’s really no way I could cover it all here, but what follows are just a few things that come to mind when deciding where to activate:

  1. Indoor vs. Outdoor
    This particular event required a decent amount of space, as we had the structure itself as well as signage around its perimeter. We opted to tent the top using a clearspan so we could protect against rain and give it a popup feel but not lose the natural light. Outdoor events are always more fun and visible, especially if we’re open to the public.

    CNN The Movies Pop Up Video Store Experience brought foot traffic to Hudson Yards in NYC

    CNN The Movies Pop Up Video Store Experience at Hudson Yards in NYC

  2. Foot Traffic
    How busy is the venue without any special events going on? Is the activation visible to passersby who may not wish to enter or engage in the experience but still wish to see what’s happening?  As we know, not everyone has the time (or desire) to engage in the activation, but we still want to make a quick impression, even if it’s just to share tune-in info.

    Inside CNN's "The Movies" throwback video store


  3. Utilities
    It takes a lot to power an event, literally. Are things like electric and Wi-Fi readily available or will they need to be brought in? It’s obviously easier when things like this are available and easily accessible. Fortunately, Hudson Yards has Wi-Fi throughout the venue, as well as power and parking nearby.

  4. Star Power
    With venues, as with many things, sometimes what’s new can quickly get old. Have so many events been executed here before that consumers (and press) already lost interest after reading the release? In the end you want a venue that offers just as much excitement as the event itself.

After years of being onsite at activations across the country, it seems people often show up at an event not always realizing just how much goes into planning it.  I suppose the same holds true for a Broadway show or new restaurant opening in your neighborhood. Perhaps a future blog will focus on some of the more behind-the-scenes work that’s not always visible to the naked eye.

For now, I’ll say congratulations to the team here behind the CNN event – Rachel Jenkins, Linda Rhodes, and of course Lenetta Pesotini, as well as everyone else from MAG who pitched in to help. And to our good friends CNN, thank you for entrusting us with helping to raise awareness of “The Movies.” We’re already looking forward to the next one.