The city is a place teaming with activity - as my Tube journey to work this morning is unfortunately testament to. More people globally are now living in cities than the country for the first time in history; there are now 21 ‘megacities’ (with inhabitants of 10 million or more) and experts estimate that this number will double over the next 10 to 20 years.
These vast concrete jungles, with their strong work aesthetic and overtly grey exterior, are in many ways the perfect backdrop for brand activations that can side step the ingrained, heads-down, commuter culture with a light-hearted dose of play.
Here we look at a clutch of recent activities and installations that subvert our view of the city.
Brightening people's day
Arts collective Greyworld developed a slice of summer in the middle of winter (echoing previous pop-up work from Corona), by installing a temporary sun right in the heart of a bustling London. The ‘Trafalgar Sun’ installation is part of the juice brand’s ‘Brighter Mornings’ campaign and this vast structure with its 60,000 light bulbs of heat and light brought something quite literally otherworldly to the urban landscape. Not only does this jolt people out of their normal routine, but it also provides a deeper emotional connection with the brand.
Urban escapism through art
Here’s a brilliant use of art to subvert our established view of the city we think we know so well. Deconstructing Ways is a new installation piece in Sydney by the artist Isidro Blasco, which places vibrant street imagery onto walls to create pathways you never knew existed – gateways to other, more inviting, worlds. What is interesting about this particular art piece is how it presents the viewer with a place that feels more real than were they are currently standing, a parallel world that delivers a visual moment of escapism from their grey surroundings.
Shifting your view of the city
This clever mirrored art installation in Paris, part of the perceptions exhibit, is yet another great example of how visual tricks can change the way people see their urban environment. The artist Leandro Erlich has developed a unique optical illusion which sees people lying down on an image of a building which is then reflected above to look like a real tower block facade, enabling them to experience the feeling of climbing and reclining on walls and windows. Again it’s the perception shift effect here that puts ‘play’ suddenly on the agenda of passers by - letting out the inner child for a fleeting moment of physical expression and breaking the monotony of the trudge across the city.
Building quirky cultural landmarks
Juxtaposition is a key part of any marketer’s toolbox. Taking something from one scenario and placing it somewhere that it really shouldn’t exist. A key example of this is evident in 'A Room For London’ an innovative architectural project in London, which has seen a small one room apartment, shaped like a boat, appear on the top of a building by the Thames. People can rent the room for a day to experience an entirely unique view of their city, and the structure is also set to play host to series of musical, artistic and cultural podcasts. Again, this is an unbranded installation, but there is plenty of opportunity fro a brand to build something similar - a living, cultural, interactive billboard set apart from its surroundings.