#29Rooms is Refinery29’s exploration into connecting with their readers in an experiential way. #29Rooms is an annual funhouse of style, culture and creativity created by a group of global artists and visionaries. It launched in 2015 during NY Fashion Week and has expanded to major US cities, including San Francisco where I attended. You'll find food, drinks, music, singing, pictures, shredding, (temporary) tattoos, donating, boxing, painting, sharing (dreams and secrets) and more! To no one’s surprise, it didn’t take long to sell out. And when they released more tickets, it just built up the hype leading up to the show.
As a media company, it’s not surprising that the #29Rooms brand is on point. The name is geared towards millennials and ready to trend on Twitter. #29Rooms itself has over 100,000 followers on Instagram, their own merch line and a special Snapchat filter. Their branding is the perfect shade of millennial pink.
#29Rooms is one of a kind. Everything from the art, creativity and experiences is exciting and a must-see. It’s culturally relevant and inclusive. #29Rooms is a genius experience that marketers can take advantage of. I am a huge fan of creative marketing placements and experiential marketing. And #29Rooms combines them brilliantly. #29Rooms is an excellent creative placement for brands to showcase their creativity in front of a millennial crowd. Each of the 29 rooms was inspired and created in partnership with an artist, visionary or brand. Each room was unique and captivating in its own way. Each space had its own relevant story to tell. Jake Gyllenhaal, Haagen-Dazs, Planned Parenthood, Pure Leaf, A Simple Favor (Anna Kendrick and Blake Lively movie), Demi Lovato, Janelle Monae, Adobe, Emma Roberts, Laneige and more partnered with #29Rooms.
Experiential marketing is continuing to rise in popularity. Consumers “ are hungry for all things immersive,” said Karen Wong, deputy director of the New Museum. “It’s a byproduct of us spending an inordinate amount of time on our screens.” The fact that some people attend [#29Rooms] to plump up their own social media feeds is “bringing us full circle,” said Ms. Wong. Many many attendees did use #29Rooms to plump up their social media feed. Just look on any social platform, use the hashtag #29Rooms and you will find thousands of photos, which not only built awareness of the event, but also enhanced the #29Rooms brand.
#29Rooms’ themes and partnerships were carefully approved to ensure they would fit within the space that Refinery29 was working to create. Some brands utilized their space at #29Rooms better than others.
The movie, A Simple Favor starring Blake Lively and Anna Kendrick is still building hype. Before the trailer dropped Blake Lively “deleted” everything on her Instagram, only followed people named Emily Nelson and changed her bio to “What happened to Emily?...”. A social media wipe is an increasingly popular tactic to build buzz by top-tier celebrities (Taylor Swift). And now the movie has its own room in #29Rooms. Inside the room, it had the fragmented profiles and voices of the main characters, Blake Lively and Anna Kendrick. It also had a large board where you could write your own secret, roll it up and put it on the board for other attendees to read after you leave. It was very memorable and tied well to the movie.
Haagen-Dazs had its own room where attendees could experience their new Trio Crispy Layers Ice Cream with a sample and a hanging column of caramel-colored (and scented) thread. Their current marketing efforts focus on trial, and this was a great opportunity to encourage trial. In the past, they’ve had brand ambassadors in San Francisco handing out samples of their new flavors. Their room put their new ice cream flavor top of mind, for when attendees go grocery shopping, stop by the ice cream aisle and can find the new Haagen-Dazs flavor they tried at #29Rooms.
Laneige had a fun “Water Works” photo backdrop with pink pool floaties and a photographer. They were giving out samples of one of their products, while you waited in line. Once your photos were taken by a professional photographer, they were sent to an iPad, where you could send yourself the photos. When the photos arrived in your inbox they were from Laneige, they had a watermark with Laneige’s logo and the #29Rooms logo and they automatically signed you up for their email list. Laneige had a thoughtful and well-executed plan for their time at #29Rooms.
Mastercard was a partner of #29Rooms and for cardholders, you could get a key at the beginning of the event and use it to skip to the front of the line for one room. Maybe it encouraged loyalty to current cardholders, but it did nothing to enhance their brand or to encourage trial. It also brought minimal awareness compared to the other partners of #29Rooms.
Overall, I take away a lot of creative inspiration and desire for more things experiential and expressive. My advice to #29Rooms as a consumer, do not let so many people in at once. It dampers the experience and does not leave enough time to experience all of the rooms when you are waiting in line for the majority of the event. My advice as a marketer to brands, take advantage! All attendees left with no less than 50 photos that are sure to be shared across their social media accounts. Let your brand be featured in one of them.