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is pop up a picnic ?


Last week, as I spoke to Retail Hub visitors at the Reed Gift Fair (hey… a big “thank you” to everyone who stopped by to listen in and comment !) – I came up with a nice analogy to describe the philosophy and planning of a pop up shop. Over the three days my presentation seemed to change a little – for the final session I threw in some common characteristics of pop ups and picnics !

When you think about it, there are quite a few similarities in the purpose and execution of good pop-up and a memorable picnic…


  • Why & What. With a picnic, you’ll probably start off your planning with the reason… perhaps as a celebration, a good-time gathering, or maybe just making-the-most-of-an-opportunity (brilliant weather, a rare day away from work and commitments, or to clear a fridge full of left-overs !)  It’s the same for a pop up – whether it’s intended as a marketing exercise (to launch a new product or raise consumer awareness), a strategic event (to test the market or enrich a database) – or as a temporary sales outlet (to clear a warehouse full of left-overs !). And in both cases the “why” sort of determines the “what” (form and style of the event)


  • Where. For a picnic the location is usually pretty important – and if the ideal patch isn’t available when you want it… you’ll quickly scout around for an alternative (hopefully finding something as good as your original choice). Perhaps the location has some fixtures already in place (tables, benches, shade) – but it’s also likely you’ll have to bring along some of your own gear (maybe just a blanket, maybe a lot more…)… Whatever you do bring you’ll (hopefully) take it all away with you afterwards, leaving no trace of your event. With a pop up shop it would be nice to find the best property, complete with a suitable fit-out… but if the location and fittings aren’t quite perfect then you’ll probably make the most of what there is – and get creative with the extras !


  • When. Picnics are often arranged and executed at quite short notice, and for a limited time – with an announced start time (and an assumed end… but if the party is going well and the location is still available… hey, why not stay on a while longer ?) And perhaps within the picnic there’ll be some highlights – games, a toast, speeches and cutting a cake (?) ‘Same with a pop up… often there’ll be special times within the event – a launch party, celebrity visits or give-aways, happy hours etc… And if the pop up is a success (and the property is still available)… it also might stay open longer !


  • Who. Picnics and pop ups both define their guest list in some form – just like any good party, the host of a pop up will decide their preferred audience… whether that’s a select group of existing (and potential) customers – or open as a free-for-all for everyone to join in…


Essentially the philosophy and planning of a picnic and a pop up can be very similar – if both are intended to be short, fun and memorable in some way… Which leads into one of my favourite pop up stories – an event which I’m tempted to call the “ultimate pop up picnic” !

On June 12th this year, the original Diner en Blanc was held again in Paris. Highly anticipated amongst the lucky “few” who attend, this massive picnic has a number of quirky characteristics… All guest outfits (and their picnic gear) must be entirely white, they bring everything along (hampers, tables and chairs – including exotic table settings and themes), the event is strictly by invitation only – and the location is always held in an iconic, very public space (but not necessarily where you’d imagine to have a picnic). To make it even more fun, the actual venue is only announced at very short notice (an hour or so beforehand…). The 2014 Paris event was as fun and memorable as the previous 25 years’ – held on 6 bridges across the River Seine, attracting over 13,000 revellers !

Le Diner en Blanc has been licensed to over 40 other cities around the world – we have a few versions in Australia (including Sydney for the past couple of years) – and there are whispers of a Melbourne event coming… let’s hope it’s soon !


Pop Up Picnic -

Featured image : Pop-Up Picnic – – via Google Images


Paris DeB a   Paris DeB b   Paris DeB c

Other images : Official pictures – Paris diner en blanc 2014





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