Since music streaming has overtaken album sales, big-name artists like Madonna are riding the pop-up wave to connect with fans, sell merchandise and raise excitement for tours. And artist estates are following suit.
In celebration of English singer-songwriter David Bowie’s 75th birthday on Jan. 8, 2022, the David Bowie Estate is hosting a free “Bowie 75” pop-up experience in New York City and London. The experience, which launched 75 days before the anniversary on Oct. 25, and extends through January 2022, is being strategically held at 150 Wooster Street in SoHo, the neighborhood of Bowie’s Manhattan home, and on Heddon Street in the Regent Street neighborhood of London that served as the backdrop for his “Ziggy Stardust” album cover shoot.
The experiential pop-ups invite guests to discover the music, fashion, art and other influences of Bowie and his artistry through video, photography and audio experiences in partnership with Sony 360 Reality Audio. The curated program features classic, rare and never-before-seen collectibles, apparel, music releases and photos.
“Recently there have been a lot of experiential pop-ups in the music space with artists across genre and career spectrums,” says Lawrence Preyer, producer of Bowie 75. “For us, it wasn’t about a copy-cat moment, it was about trying to take something that others were doing and bringing a unique experiential element to it.”
Both pop-up activations invite fans to enjoy social media moments by taking a picture of themselves looking into mirrors inserted into different moments of Bowie’s history. They can also enter a replica London-style phone box to “place a call” and listen to recorded voice messages from the artist. And an interactive kiosk calls visitors to leave personal messages for Bowie that display at both venues as well as the event website.
Every aesthetic detail of the program was considered in order to create a cohesive experience between the two cities, and both pop-up spaces are decorated with bright primary colors and photographic and HD projection imagery of Bowie throughout his career. Strolling brand ambassadors engage fans further by sharing personal stories about meeting and watching Bowie perform.
Preyer says that earned media has played an important role in the campaign. Telling a story around the initiative and artist was key, as was weaving in authentic beats and stories without offering any specific artistic interpretations of Bowie. The locations were chosen to promote authenticity and tell powerful stories about the initiative, and special care was taken so that multimedia and other items on display engage both long-time fans and a new, younger audience.
“David meant a lot of things to a lot of people, so we wanted to make sure to keep the artist front and center to find the next generation of fans,” says Preyer. “This is a very on-brand, authentic way to present David’s music in a modern environment. The tactile experience of commerce and content really draws a young audience.”
The marketing campaign is planned to extend into a multi-year effort. Multi-channel, multi-layer programming is hyper-focused on geographic territories, and once pop-ups close, new recorded music will be released along with fresh brand collaborations. Event attendance and post-event increases in music licenses, Preyer explains, will inform how best to expand the reach and presence of the artist. Agency: Factory 360, New York City.
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