Secret spaces offer incentive, intrigue and an experience worth sharing.
Most event environments are built for eyeballs with engagements placed strategically out in the open. Marketers, however, have rediscovered the art of intrigue by incorporating secret spaces into their event footprints that serve both an experiential purpose and a strategic one. Secret spaces are often tied to gamification, but they also double as stunts and VIP offerings, all wrapped into one, nondescript call to action.
Take Esurance at South by Southwest this year, which brought back The Garage. This simple activation with a garage façade hiding secrets behind it tied into its insurance brand messaging, was activated by Esurance Access passes that consumers registered for. When they scanned their passes at a kiosk in front of The Garage, over the course of the day (for several lucky winners), it would suddenly open to reveal mega prizes like an Apple TV and even a car.
Oreo turned heads in New York City with a mysterious branded vault that appeared on a street with no staff and the simple directive to “open here” with an arrow pointing toward a big Oreo vault door. Called the Oreo Wonder Vault, when passersby opened the door a conveyor belt magically sent a box of Oreos filled with prototype fillings down and into their hands. One such product: Filled Cupcake Oreos, released from the vault a week before they hit store shelves.
Secret doors can transform trade show footprints and benefit the bottom line, as well, since they don’t involve much square footage to pull off. Trade shows are also the right environments for secret spaces, too, which offer an exclusive escape from the show floor and into an unexpected environment. Twitter at CES this year concealed its VIP/executive lounge in a speakeasy style setting. For an exclusive gathering that included key influencers, attendees entered through a recording booth inside the #TwitterCity experience’s “Muzik Store,” then spoke a secret code into the microphone to open a hidden door. Inside: A Prohibition-style space with seating, bar and food.
Other ideas worth spreading: secret food experiences like multi-sensory darkened or blind-folded dining events, secret vaults for coffee break snacks (earned with a tweet and event hashtag) and mystery meet-and-greets behind Door No. 1.
Your secret won’t be safe with participants after the experience, but that’s exactly the idea.