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The pop up carnival in Rio


It might be “the greatest show on earth” (for sports, spectacle and global goodwill…) – but the Olympic event is also a great time to pop up !

4 years ago we discussed pop up extreme : the olympic machine – the proliferation of pop up events happening around the London 2012 Olympic Games… and I’ve been waiting patiently to see what will happen this year in Rio de Janeiro. Sure enough, media are describing the various installations and events “popping up” around these 2 weeks of Olympics – not just in Brazil, but in other corners of the world too ! Some of the Rio reports are in Portuguese (which I can’t read) – so I’m probably missing out on some of the local pop-up stories…

As in previous years, major brands have embraced the Games’ spirit by launching events in the Olympic host-city. One of the “champions” of Olympic pop ups is Nike – they’ve been aligning with the ‘Games for several seasons. Those included the days before Nike had any official association with the main event (until this year they couldn’t actually mention or show the Olympics in their marketing campaigns… including their 8 European pop ups during Beijing 2008 and the +Nine by Nike store in Sydney con-current with London 2012).

But now, Nike is an official Supplier of Rio Olympic Games and a sponsor of the United States Olympic Committee (USOC). To celebrate their new status, Nike has opened the Rio Unlimited interactive space, featuring a huge digital art installation and displays of Nike apparel. As with the previous pop ups, the Rio installation focuses on the brand’s performance profile and innovation (… as an eye-catching marketing exercise, rather than a cash-sales event…)

Also no stranger to using pop up around Olympics-time is Procter & Gamble (an official Worldwide Olympic Partner). For the past couple of ‘Games they’ve opened a pop-up beauty spa within the athlete’s Village, exclusively for competitors and their families (providing hair styling, shaves, manicures and pedicures – using the range of P&G products, of course !). In the run up to Rio they produced a “P&G Thank You, Mom” video, which has been viewed 21.5million times on YouTube – watch the Rio video here (they made a Thank You Mom video for the Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games too…)

The French National Olympic and Sports Committee is hosting members of their 2016 team at the Club France pop up hospitality suite, opposite a Rio beach (5th to 21st August). On the terrace of the ‘Club, national carrier Air France has installed a “hip and stylish” lounge… with daily DJ sets, an exhibition area and travel agency. Air France has supported the French teams at most recent Olympics – Atlanta, Sydney, Athens and Beijing – and is now an official supplier for Paris’ bid for the 2024 Olympic Games.

Other visitors who seek an escape from the bustle might make their way up to The Lodge Rio – an exclusive retreat for corporate and private events. Described as a “pop-up members club and party venue”, The Lodge is set within a hill-top colonial-style mansion, complete with tea salon, clubhouse, lush gardens and swimming pool… serving “quintessentially British G&T’s” out on the terrace, overlooking Guanabara Bay and Sugarloaf Mountain.

In other cities around the world… a London pizzeria in Battersea has become a Brazilian-themed pop up for the duration of the Rio Games – Bunga Bunga recently decked out an upstairs beach shack with palm trees, surf boards, banana leaves (and a VW camper van). Over these 2 weeks, bar staff will wear Brazilian jerseys and celebrate each Olympic medal won by the 2016 host team… no doubt also joining in the occasional samba dance at their “Brazilian Pop Up Cocobananas” (?)

And in New York, Nike (again…) has teamed up with Manhattan footwear retailer Kith in a 4-month collaboration (through to December), showcasing limited edition and Olympic Nike shoes, and vintage memorabilia…

All this happens because the world focuses on a particular city and its’ culture for just 2 short weeks… And with global attention on the Olympics host city, it is a unique chance for brands to showcase their values to a massive audience. Maybe we don’t see much of their products during the actual Games, but those brands do tend to leverage the association in wider and extended marketing campaigns. The opportunity to align with this event is tightly controlled (by the International Olympic Committee) – which is very nice for the lucky few official Partners, Sponsors, Supporters and Suppliers… But I think it’s also nice when smaller brands and businesses take the initiative to “ambush” the Olympics, attracting their own attention with clever and co-related events !


Rio de Janeiro


image :      Rio de Janeiro


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