Retailers and Quick Service Restaurants often use pop culture tie-ins as a way to amplify consumer excitement about a blockbuster movie or TV show. The risk they face, particularly when it’s a QSR investing in toys for giveaway, is that the film will flop when it’s actually released.
AT&T faced a different challenge when the retailer linked up with HBO’s Game of Thrones, a popular show that dominated consumer conversation even among those who didn’t watch it. In order to stand out and create unique brand interactions at four of its flagship stores, the retailer and experience design agency Twenty Four 7 had to “tease” the events of the final season without knowing the specific story lines, or which characters would survive. (Game of Thrones has a notoriously high mortality rate.)
On April 1, Twenty Four 7 transformed AT&T flagship stores in four cities (New York, Chicago, San Francisco and Boston) into Game of Thrones emporiums, with authentic costumes from the various “houses” and characters in the series showcased ahead of the show’s eighth and final season.
“In this example, AT&T came to us and said, ‘How do you create a premium retail experience and associated marketing campaign to celebrate this final season?’” said Mimi Lettunich, President and Executive Creative Director of Twenty Four 7 in an interview with Retail TouchPoints. “For us, there’s an objective that they’re interested in, but we want to identify the barriers that get in the way first. We couldn’t know anything about what was going to happen this season, so how do we inspire the future by using the past?”
As many as 15 to 20 team members worked with the AT&T and HBO teams to brainstorm and implement ideas for the store experiences. The stores featured “limited-reveal video content” from the new season, along with digital games and VR/AR experiences. At three of the stores, AT&T introduced the Magic Leap One virtual retinal display VR goggles, where visitors could play “The Dead Must Die,” a game that lets consumers confront a White Walker, a particularly formidable Game of Thrones antagonist.
AT&T stores and its web site also sold Game of Thrones paraphernalia, from smartphone cases and wireless chargers to wine tumblers and water bottles.
“We have people that will walk into these locations and say, ‘What will you do next?’” Lettunich said. “It’s about programming and keeping it fresh, and not doing a ‘one and done.’ I think a lot of people look at it as a moment versus something that is part of your ecosystem as a whole. Entertainment is core — it’s not just about selling entertainment, it’s about being entertaining.”
When developing takeovers for these stores, Lettunich said that her company is careful in how it analyzes shopper data, particularly since it’s easy to fall back on traditional metrics. Instead, Twenty Four 7 uses a behavioral science-focused strategy designed to analyze metrics related to customer obsession and irrational fandom.
Interactive Store Takeovers Provide Experiences That Online, Mobile Still Can’t Deliver
The Game of Thrones takeover was the latest in a string of pop culture takeovers that Twenty Four 7 has installed within AT&T stores; the agency previously created installations based on Justice League and Fantastic Beasts. Twenty Four 7 also helped create the “Connected Life Experience” in AT&T’s San Francisco store, to immerse consumers in an interactive journey focused on the human movement of IoT technologies.
“We’re focusing on all the things that a consumer can’t get anywhere else,” Lettunich said. “With retail access being so prolific, there are so many channels for people to get basic product and service. We’re trying to provide access to the things that seem hard to get, and the things that make the experience a little bit more intimate. These experiences should feed the superfan on one hand, and on the other hand, we’re looking to figure out how to gain an entry point that attracts the novice to the conversation.”
AT&T Celebrates Pride Month In Three Flagship Stores
In June, AT&T and Twenty Four 7 celebrated Pride Month throughout three flagship locations in San Francisco, Chicago and Boston. The stores showcase the colors of the LGBT flag via larger-than-life “links,” joined together in a sculptural representation of this year’s Pride theme: Generations of Strength. The interactive experience drew people into the retail locations where they could create their own digital “link” to share their personal story of hope, determination or inspiration.
Submissions become a colorful chain of names, organized by decade, in support of LGBT rights. Multiple 3D “links” are positioned throughout the space, sharing important turning points in LGBT history. A series of social posts, highlighting key LGBT milestones in key cities, pushed the campaign global.
“Customer satisfaction is great,” Lettunich said. “It’s something that everybody wants and it suggests that your interaction went well. But we’re focused on inspiring consumers. It’s the idea that we’re in their mind far beyond that moment of time they had that interaction.”