Ah, summer in the city. Personally, I would prefer to be hot over cold any day. I realize not everyone feels that way, especially here in the city. Take my former colleague, Patrick, for instance, who favors colder weather, saying you could always put on a coat or keep layering. Perhaps I just haven’t found the right coat, but when it’s cold here in NYC, nothing short of a scalding hot tub of water can warm these bones.
But I digress.
Being a fan of the heat means I love the Summer. Being outdoors, walking more, and doing things you simply can’t do with gallons of slush by the sidewalk. Now if you’re really like me, you love the city, but you also love leaving it when things start to heat up, especially over the weekend.
As a brand looking to spread awareness, this can sometimes be a deterrence. But not to worry. There are still many ways brands can reach consumers because remember, the goal of every marketing campaign is to activate where you live, work, and play.
Here are some of my favorite experiential activations we see more of as the sun shines bright.
As I’m sure you’re aware, Pedicabs offer the consumer an environmentally friendly, fun transportation alternative with a 360º view. We’ve executed them on countless occasions across the country, whether centered around a convention offering transportation to host hotels, or simply roaming as mobile billboards throughout Times Square. They can be completely wrapped in a brand’s creative and enhanced with tablets for the consumer to utilize during the ride. While Pedicabs operate year-round, I’m personally not a fan of sitting in enclosed plastic to avoid inclement weather or using the communal blanket provided to keep warm… making summer the perfect time for a ride around town.
Ice Cream Trucks
I scream, you scream, we all scream for ice cream. Especially in the summer, and even more so when it’s free! We’ve had great success utilizing food trucks for various types of activations, but without a doubt, we can almost guarantee a continuous line when we’re doling out the frozen treats. After fully wrapping the vehicle, and dressing our Brand Ambassadors in branded gear, we’re essentially a mobile pop-up, able to feed consumers – both with a tasty treat AND knowledge of the brand. In the case of The Wall Street Journal, we offered free cones wrapped with real-time news headlines. As a bonus incentive, and drive to trial, guests who downloaded the newest WSJ app received complimentary toppings.
The city has so much to offer, even more so when the weather is nice. Many BIDs (Business Improvement Districts) offer special summer programming for those who live and work in their neighborhoods. We’re fortunate to work with several of these organizations and help curate these activities on their behalf.
First is Summer in the Square, hosted by Union Square Partnership. For 8 weeks we offer everything from tabletop petting zoos to dueling drag queens. My personal favorite are the summer movie screenings, where you have a chance to sit under the stars and catch a classic film with friends.
Second is Flatiron Summer, hosted by The 23rd Street Partnership. While their summer series runs multiple days for 7 weeks, we support them on their Throwback Thursdays which includes oversized family favorite games such as Giant Jenga and Connect 4, children’s workshops, and live performances by local artists. The famous Flatiron Italian market, Eataly, also sets up on the Plaza providing attendees with free gelato. And as I said above, everyone definitely screams louder when the ice cream’s free.
Activating on beaches themselves can be tricky. Depending on whether they’re public or private may determine what type of permission you need and who you need it from. We’ve successfully executed a handful of beach campaigns ranging from simple Frisbee and lip balm distribution (both low cost, popular summer giveaways) to giant custom sand sculptures depicting key art from a hit television show. Another very popular way to reach the beach is through aerial advertising, which can often be bought via any OOH supplier. Ideally, it’s a combination of the two mediums, so the consumer experiences something they can touch and feel (or smell and taste) which is then reinforced via an ad from above.
Last but not least is our tried and true tactic, the street team. There’s nothing quite like a friendly, attractive, outgoing promotional model dressed and trained in the brand to help promote a product or service. During the summer there’s no concern with branded gear being covered by a coat, or a consumer politely (or sometimes not so politely) passing on a premium because they’re wearing gloves or can’t fit something in their coat. Combining these teams with the increase in outdoor activities makes assembling and executing them a quick and easy addition to any summer marketing campaign.
Since we’re halfway through the summer, I would encourage everyone to take advantage of the warm weather while it lasts. Take a walk around the block or catch a concert in the park, and if you’re really lucky, maybe even post a selfie with a custom sand sculpture.