How to Bring the Element of Surprise to Event Marketing (and Coworking)

As theater people at heart, we’re quick to applaud performances that shake up the status quo and bring a little levity and humorous social commentary to our workaday lives. It’s in this spirit that we tip our collective hat to Improv Everywhere, the New York City-based comedy collective that stages “unexpected performances in public spaces.”

The group’s latest foray into street-theater was an “unauthorized project” that takes the WeWork co-working concept to abandoned phone booths, which they wittily transformed into outdoor workspaces with amenities including corkboards and succulents. The performance was situated downtown in Chelsea’s bustling avenues and won the attention of many New Yorkers, some of whom were curious about the prospect of working outside the cube.

As the Gothamist reported, “While some intrigued passersby listened to the hard sell (‘Research shows millennials don’t like stairs or elevators’), they ultimately did not get anyone to sign up for their introductory plan at $300/month (that comes with fruit water and fresh NYC air!).”

As an experiential brand exercise, the “Phone Booth Coworking” prank, as it is officially known, might raise some eyebrows but then, as Improv Everywhere’s website emphasizes,   “This project was not a collaboration with WeWork, but we hope they like it and hope they will consider the idea for their ever-expanding empire,” explains the collective’s website.

A takeaway for event marketing professionals is how effectively the group made the mundane delightful by recontextualizing it in a new environment. It begs the question, what aspects of your venture’s offerings can be elevated into an event simply by changing how it’s encountered? Pop-ups frequently touch upon this by introducing brand concepts into unexpected places — but that’s almost expected now. A tougher question is how we can make the ordinary extraordinary through surprising contexts and a possibly a little humor too?

We might have some answers for you.

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