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Beyond the Screen: Bringing Brands to Life

Words by: MJ Viernes

Art by: Liane Baylosis

Imagine this: your favorite brand suddenly jumps out of your screen and comes to life before your eyes. If it sounds too good to be true, we’ve got news for you — finally, there’s a way for you to feel, touch, and experience your favorite album, movie, or TV series.

How, you ask? Well, this is exactly what activations are for. You may not have noticed, but as more of us start to recover the face-to-face experiences we’ve missed, more and more activations have invaded places and events that are close to our hearts. But what exactly is an activation?

Brand activations are “in-person events, experiences, and interactions” that usually last for a short time. The limited time period makes for a much more special and lasting experience in people’s minds. The end result? Die-hard fans and curious bystanders are hooked by fourth-wall-breaking marketing. With this, check out some of the creative activations that caught our attention during the past few months!


Taylor Swift’s Midnights Lounge at the Podium (Album)

Can I ask you a question...? What better way is there to celebrate the release of “Midnights” than recreating her iconic album shoot?

Last October 18, UMUSIC Philippines set up the Midnights Lounge booth at The Podium Hall along with a listening party on October 21, the album’s release day. The lounge is as cozy as it gets, decorated with furniture, a bingo machine, the iconic Midnights Manifest calendar, and framed pictures of the album cover.

Swifties channeled their inner Taylor Swift by sitting on the couch and lighting a flame in a recreation of the album cover. They were then challenged to post their photos and videos on Tiktok, using any Taylor Swift audio and the hashtags #MidnightsPH and #UMUSICFanverse2022, in order to win exciting prizes such as a “Midnights” vinyl. Talk about user-generated content!

You can stream “Midnights” via Apple Music and Spotify.


UP Fighting Maroons versus the Ateneo Blue Eagles?

More like: School of Good versus School of Evil!

Last October 16, UAAP fans and students gathered in the Mall of Asia (MOA) Arena to witness the first “Battle of Katipunan” of the season. Little did they know that two new schools – (1) the School of Good and (2) the School of Evil – would be invading the said game.

Outside the arena, students were ushered in by a flying stymph – a bird-like creature holding a poster of Netflix’s newest movie: “The School for Good and Evil” – just like how it transported students in the film. Once the students stepped inside the arena, they were greeted by the headmistresses of the two schools and given“finger glows” with colors that represent their universities.

Inside the court, the movie’s magical creatures and main characters performed an acrobatics basketball show loaded with amazing stunts and basketball shots. During the game, the headmistresses coursed their announcements during the UAAP correspondents’ reports. The two also apparently used their magic to help basketball players score points, featured as the “Magical Move of the Game” on our screens. This goes to show that sometimes, a little bit of magic truly does the trick.

The School for Good and Evil is now streaming only on Netflix.


Vecna of Stranger Things invades Glorietta 4

(TV Series)

Do you wanna feel how it feels… to be in the Upside Down? Last June 30 to July 2, Vecna from Stranger Things 4 made nightly appearances in Glorietta 4. The art installation represents the lair of the notorious villain, dubbed as “a powerful sorcerer turned lich and eventually a god”.

A giant projector was placed in the middle of the activity hall. The eerie clock ticking along with scenes from Volume 2 of Stranger Things looped on the screen, setting the tone for the installation. The activity center itself was filled with huge pointy structures and tentacles, and people could navigate their way through the maze while taking pictures and videos. Right smack in the middle was a humongous and haunting structure of Vecna.

Sometimes, an actor dressed up as Vecna even graced the presence of mere mortals, joined by an actress playing Max Mayfield who helped recreate one of the show’s iconic scenes! You could take pictures with them and even recreate that moment with Kate Bush’s “Running Up That Hill (A Deal with God)” playing in the background. Fans and random passersby then posted about their experience on social media with the hashtag #StrangerThings4PH.

At the end of the day, it was a great way for fans to get their popcorn and favorite songs ready for the season finale. After all, you never know who might be Vecna’s next victim.

Seasons 1-4 of Stranger Things are streaming only on Netflix.


After all these examples, you might be thinking: how effective are brand activations anyway? Well, 93% of consumers in the U.S. argue that activations influence their purchase decisions more than traditional advertisements, and a whopping 98% are more inclined to purchase a product after experiencing an activation. Nonetheless, these must be aligned with the brand’s strategy and consumer insight in order to be effective.

Yet activations don’t just increase brand awareness and purchase. After spending years in the lockdown, all of us are longing for connection and interaction — in short, we are craving for experiences, and activations give us exactly that. They create a stronger, long-lasting, and meaningful relationship between the brand and its target market.

All in all, activations truly play a central role in bringing brands to life. Yet the cherry on top of the cake is the element of surprise that comes with it. When it comes to brand activations, always expect the unexpected. At the end of the day, you never know when you’ll come across one so keep your eyes peeled and your phones ready. Go enjoy the moment and immortalize those memories!


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