In some ways, 2018 was like a sprint at the Summer Olympics, dominated by the world’s top performers. Big brands continued to stand out, with companies like Apple and Microsoft finding their values soaring. But as the final waves of the year roll in, we’re sitting on our surfboards, watching a gorgeous sun set into the salty horizons of the vast ocean. We’re taking a more Zen approach to the fin d’annee, looking at the brands, big and small, who captured the public’s attention. Here’s our top eight favorite brand experiences who caught some sweet waves in 2018.
World Wildlife Fund’s Elephant in London
If you happened to see a life-sized elephant strolling the streets of London, no, you weren’t a pint short of a nervous breakdown. The World Wildlife Fund launched a life-size hologram of an elephant to bring attention to the Illegal Wildlife Trade Conference, which took place in London last October. This was a gorgeous, poetic attention-grabber to a crucial issue. Well done, Word Wildlife Fund!
Follow Your Heart at Natural Products Expo West
This year, we partnered with vegan food-specialists Follow Your Heart to create a warm, welcoming space to showcase their goods. With the aroma of backed good wafting deliciously in the air, visitors were treated to the ultimate in hygge, with plush seating, natural wood finishes, and soft lighting in a cozy, updated booth.
Payless Pranks Influencers into Liking their Shoes
From hygge to hype, Payless Shoesource gave us one of the biggest grins of the years, the kind you definitely want to mysteriously Instagram with cryptic hashtags. Payless invited a trove of Los Angeles influencers into a new pop-up store called Palessi, asking them to spend up to $645 on footwear that usually retails for around $19.99. Don’t worry, the stunned Palessi fans got their money back, and Payless brilliantly showed the world that their styles are luxury-level.
One of our favorite collaborations this year was with Automation Anywhere, showcasing how bots in the workforce can empower our every day. We used an eye-catching kaleidoscope element where attendees could interact with robotic technology. With soul-soothing waterfalls!
Canada Goose and the Frozen Dressing Room
Anyone who lives in a cold climate knows that buying the right coat can be as stressful as buying a house—especially when that coat costs as much as month’s rent in the suburbs. Will it be warm enough and worth the investment? Canada Goose brilliantly justified their customer’s purchases by adding a dressing room freezer capable of minus 25-degree temperatures. Buyers could try on their coats, marvel at their warmth, and then open their wallets.
When the Retail Store Is Immersive Theater
Immersive experiences have caught on with big brands like Nike and Levi’s, offering up an almost museum-like experience for shoppers in their brick-and-mortar flagships. Nike, for example, offers a “sneaker lab” in their Times Square location, where you can buy the shoes off a pedestal. There’s also a spot where you can customize certain styles with dip-dye and laces. Physical trainers on staff will help you guy athletic wear, but not before you peruse a museum-like shrine to Serena Williams and LeBron James.
Pantone Goes to Art Basel
Pantone collaborated with the Marriott’s Tribute Portfolio Brands to create an immersive, visceral expression to introduce the Pantone Color of the Year “Living Coral.” Using arresting visuals in a 10-by-20-foot installation, “20 cabinets, drawers, and artful moments” were placed about to engage the visitor. As one excited Group Delphi employee described it, “the experiential activation inspired attendees to acknowledge their own creativity—and realize that the raw materials to express themselves are everywhere.”
Finally, Nike again made news in 2018 with a truly innovative concept. They introduced “a members-only store concept with a focus on mobile and a two-week merchandise rotation.” Starting with Nike by Melrose in Los Angeles and centered around an app, the new store focused on customer loyalty and a curated offering. Retaildive.com reports that the “Nike Live concept has the potential to change how consumers not only shop for athletic wear, but also how they shop for everything else.”