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March 2024’s Most Memorable Activations

by | April 17, 2024

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And whoosh, March disappears just like that. There was so much fun along the way, such as SXSW 2024 in Austin, which is always a good time. 

As I did last month, and the month before that, I want to take this time to assess which activations made the largest splash in March and why. Make sure you join me, as this information could just help you in your activation ideation process!

Porsche at SXSW

SXSW is a major music festival, and although no one is thinking about buying a car there, that doesn’t stop advertisers from positioning activations at this huge event

Porsche created a Full Service activation themed after the famed Route 66, which cuts through Texas. Guests could walk through the activation, which looked like a Meow Wolf car wash, and then check out vintage vehicles. 

As a Full Service station, guests could also get “tuned up,” or should I say refueled? After all, the activation had snacks and drinks aplenty. To further drum up interest, Porsche showcased two of its vehicles, the Taycan and Macan, as well as its branded eBike. 

So, why does this activation work? Porsche manages to solve one of the simplest but still biggest needs festivalgoers have: the need for a place to rest and refresh.  

Of course, there was a lot more to this activation, including a walk-through element, fun theming, and showcasing of the brand’s vehicles, but at its core, it gave the people what they want, which explains its success

Storm Reid and Coca-Cola

Does Coke even have to try with its activations anymore? If it hopes to maintain its top spot as a soda king, then yes, it does.

That’s why Coca-Cola continuously innovates, such as the creation of Coke Spiced, a soda that is self-explanatory. To promote the spicy soda, Coke worked with actor Storm Reid, debuting a fascinating activation in association with Momentum Worldwide.

The activation, which took place in New York City’s SoHo district, used a building there and converted it into an art exhibit. But this wasn’t just any art exhibit; oh, no. It featured AI in creative ways.

For example, guests could stroll through the Spiced Shop for a limited time (only March 1st through the 2nd) and taste Coke Spiced. Then, they could share their feelings using AI prompts, translating their taste buds into images. 

As guests explored the activation, they were treated to LED walls that displayed everyone else’s thoughts in AI images. Coke also had its brand ambassadors available to ensure everyone was carefully caffeinated.

According to James Robinson, Momentum Worldwide’s chief creative officer in North America, by asking guests to explain the flavor after trying it rather than the other way around is “a complete 180 on how we normally trial a Coca-Cola beverage, and impossible to accomplish without the help of an AI experience like this one.” 

Aveeno at the American Academy of Dermatology

This March marked time for the American Academy of Dermatology to gather for its yearly meeting. Aveeno, a skincare brand, joined in on the event to promote its #TheSecretIsOat marketing campaign.

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Aveeno teamed with INVNT to unveil a branded pop-up Airstream camper for two days during the conference. In true food truck fashion, the Aveeno truck served oat coffees. Staying on-brand, the drinks featured foam art branded with the Aveeno logo. Oh, and did I mention the coffees were free? 

The coffee was a great way to start the conversation about Aveeno’s presence at the American Academy of Dermatology, as they had more than a pop-up drink activation. Aveeno also had a booth inside. 

This activation was quite successful, as Aveeno handed out about 3,000 free oak milk coffees and lattes. And why does it work? Aveeno did an excellent job in driving people to its booth while keeping guests caffeinated for free. 

Tide at SXSW

I know, Tide and SXSW seem like strange bedfellows, but when it works, it works! And in this case, it definitely works.

For three days, Tide made its presence felt to promote its brand-new, greener (as in eco-friendly) detergent called Tide evo, which has a more concentrated formula than ever. 

Tide drew in large crowds for using its brand colors in the activation. It’s kind of hard to miss the vivid orange and blue that is the Tide logo, especially with an activation as large as this one. You could witness a larger-than-life (quite literally, in this case) Tide evo bottle.

The bottle was for more than just looks. Opening it revealed pillows meant to replicate the shape of the new evo detergent, which is tile-shaped. How does tile-shaped laundry detergent work? That’s something that was explained at the activation as well. 

Scientists who put their heads together to create the new Tido evo detergent were on hand to recreate the creative process, complete with beakers. Guests could demonstrate the effectiveness of Tide evo in real time by staining a garment and then cleaning it using the detergent (don’t worry, it wasn’t the attendees’ own clothes). 

Further, Tide had a photo op with oversized fibers that comprise the evo tiles on display for snapping social-media-ready images. 

Providing photo ops and product demonstrations makes this activation memorable, as does the unique placement of Tide at a music festival. That it had an oversized, colorful activation was just a bonus. 

Sharpie x Paper Mate Studio

Proving that brands of all kinds can gather at SXSW in a sponsorship capacity, Sharpie and Paper Mate were at the big music fest to debut their Sharpie x Paper Mate Studio activation. 

Paper Mate is celebrating its 75th year in 2024, and Sharpie its 60th. To usher in such momentous occasions, Newell Brands created the dual activation at SXSW. Mindy Kaling was also part of it, who needs no introduction. 

So, what was the Sharpie x Paper Mate Studio all about? Well, Paper Mate just recently unveiled its InkJoy Gel Bright! Pens, while Sharpie debuted its Sharpie Creative Markers, so the brands had plenty to showcase besides honoring their respective longevities. 

The activation was as colorful as can be, with neon-colored steps, window frames, and décor inside and out. To further incentivize people to check out the activation, Kaling did a Q&A during SXSW that was worth peeling yourself away from the music stages for. 

Paramount+ at SXSW

In 2023, Paramount+ made waves by debuting its activation called The Lodge at SXSW, so it decided to bring it back a second time! 

The Lodge was a different experience in case you saw it last year. The multi-story building (with three stories in all) featured prop after prop under the Paramount+ umbrella. I’m talking Survivor (yes, the hit TV show), Mean Girls, and Star Trek: Discovery.

The way the props were used was quite genius. For example, Survivor had a themed photo op and Mean Girls featured neon pink lockers and cocktails in the same hue (including a neon sign that read “You Can’t Sip With Us”).

The rest of The Lodge was decorated appropriately, with fake snow, faux trees, and ambassadors dressed for winter despite that it’s Texas in March. Badges were modeled after ski lift tickets and offered guests two free drinks. 

This activation played right into an audience’s interest in flashy photo ops and free stuff. I wouldn’t be surprised to see The Lodge back at SXSW next year! 

Prime Video: Fallout at SXSW 

Yes, SXSW really did have the lion’s share of activations in March, as you’ll see. Prime Video kept busy near South Congress Avenue to build up anticipation of Fallout, its latest program, which is set in a post-apocalyptic wasteland. 

Appropriately, the activation looked like a bomb shelter, with rusted metal tools, red plastic tape, and Prime branding. Inside, you could see actors mimicking the characters on the program, right down to the way they were dressed, and offering sneak peeks of the show to incentivize them to watch. 

Audible at SXSW 

Of course, I have to talk about Audible’s presence at SXSW in the form of the Audible Sound Experience

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When you experience sound, it’s usually through your ears, but not this time. In downtown Austin, Audible set up shop, building a buttery yellow Ferris wheel with large gondolas for riders to take a spin. Costumed characters in carnival regalia were also part of the day’s entertainment. 

The Sound Experience was more than just spinning around in a Ferris wheel and seeing some great aerial views of Austin. Corn dogs and cotton candy were available for snacking, balloon installations made an excellent photo op, and guests could receive airbrush tattoos.

Moreso, there were games called Pitch Perfect and Hi-Fi Toss named after Audible entertainment products. All prizes came from Audible too. Guests could receive drink tickets for free and enjoy the patio atmosphere before rushing into the madness that is SXSW. 

Wrapping Up 

March 2024 sizzled with some truly interesting activations, especially at SXSW. These daring, fascinating activations from brands of all types showed variety in sponsorship can be a good thing as long as you’re still fulfilling an audience need. 

I hope you’re inspired to take your activations to the next level after checking out this list!