In this social media age, experiential events have become a crucial part of entertainment marketing plans. Instagram-friendly pop-ups had become common in recent years — Netflix turning a Baskin-Robbins location into the Scoops Ahoy ice cream parlor from “Stranger Things” or Amazon Prime Video taking over the Hollywood Athletic Club to promote its Emmy contenders, for example.
But then came the pandemic. And marketers were forced to quickly pivot to safe, socially distanced events like drive-in premieres and virtual events such as online watch parties. But as vaccination rates continue to rise, marketers are aiming to balance those digital experiences with more in-person encounters.
Prime Video, for example, plans to promote its new series “Harlem” at the historic Harlem Parish, a New York City church-turned-event space, starting Dec. 3 with festivities dubbed “Harlem Ever After.” For the event, which highlights Black female creators and entrepreneurs, Prime Video is turning the Parish into an interactive space with photo ops, murals by local women artists, music and food from local restaurants, among other enticements.
“With ‘Harlem Ever After,’ we knew that we wanted to integrate culture and marketing,” says Prime Video global chief marketing officer Ukonwa Ojo. “We’re able to incorporate our audiences similarly to how we would pre-pandemic, both safely and effectively in accordance with state and local regulations.”
Among other recent pop-up experiences, Fox’s Tubi TV replicated a version of the basement seen in its animated series “The Freak Brothers” at L.A. retailer Fred Segal; MGM and United Artists Releasing created a “House of Gucci” exhibit at the FIDM Museum; Peacock threw an immersive yacht-themed event in Malibu to promote the launch of “The Real Housewives Ultimate Girls Trip”; and Netflix partnered with Fever to promote the Spanish-language series “La Casa de Papel” with “Money Heist: The Experience,” set to debut Dec. 9 at Brooklyn’s Skylight One Hanson.
Ojo says Prime Video also executed in-person events recently for its titles “I Know What You Did Last Summer,” “Cinderella” and “Fairfax.” “The astounding positivity for the return to in-person events allows us to be creative when it comes to eventizing our upcoming launches to make them each feel special in their own way,” she says. “Consumers are embracing more in-person experiences. We’ve all been in the comfort of our homes for a while, and I think we’re eager to communicate with people in person again.”
As for the “Harlem Ever After” event, the interactive space will feature murals inspired by “Harlem,” created by local artists Tiffany B Chanel, Marthalicia Matarrita, Marissa Molina, and Maria “TOOFLY” Castillo. On December 1, celebrity designer Kimberly Goldson, in collaboration with Harlem’s Fashion Row, will host a fashion presentation showcasing a curated collection of designs inspired by the series and its characters.
The event fully kicks off on Friday, December 3 with programming including a presentation from Goldson and then the panel discussion “Harlem Hustle: A New Era for Black Business and Entrepreneurship.” Among businesses involved in the event: Eden BodyWorks, Harlem Candle Company, Harlem Chocolate Factory, Mented Cosmetics and Phenomenal. Prime Video is also working with Harlem Business Alliance, a nonprofit that aims to increase the economic viability of Black-owned businesses.
Free tickets for the event are available at harlemeverafter.com. “Harlem,” created, written, and executive produced by Tracy Oliver (“Girls Trip”), is a single-camera comedy about friends in Harlem. Meagan Good, Jerrie Johnson, Grace Byers and Shoniqua Shandai star in the Amazon Prime Video series, which premieres Dec. 3.