Introducing your brand to new people and getting them interested can be tricky, but one way to go about it is through brand activation campaigns. Brand activation is a marketing tactic by which brands can raise awareness about their brand and increase engagement through various kinds of engaging experiences. This can include events, displays, games, and more.
If you’re looking for ideas for creative brand activations, this article is for you! We’ve gathered up the best brand activation ideas and examples from successful campaigns run by brands in all types of industries and regions. We have 35 examples broken down into the following five categories:
- Best pop-up brand activation campaign examples (12)
- In-person activities, scavenger hunts, & gamification for brand activation (10)
- Virtual, online & digital brand activation ideas (5)
- Creative social media brand activation ideas (5)
- Educational brand activation ideas (3)
Now let’s get into our list of 35 successful brand activation examples to help inspire your own marketing plans.
35 Brand activation examples & ideas
This list of our best brand activation ideas will give you some inspiration for your next brand activation project. The examples below are organized into categories to help you easily find the types of examples you’re looking for, whether you want to run your campaign online or in-person, as a pop-up event, and more!
Best pop-up brand activation campaign examples
A pop-up activation campaign is a branded experience that people would go to in-person. These can be stand-alone experiences, displays at larger events, pop-up shops, or even mobile tours!
1. Free No WiFi Zone | KitKat
Popular chocolate bar brand KitKat hosted outdoor “no wi-fi zones” where people could follow the brand slogan and “have a break.” While most people might be looking for areas with free wi-fi, KitKat saw an opportunity to remind people to slow down, relax, and embody their tagline.
Why This Was So Powerful: This tied in perfectly with the brand’s existing marketing theme and made for a lo-fi, but memorable, experience.
2. #WeighThis | Lean Cuisine
While Lean Cuisine may be traditionally thought of as a diet brand, they ran a pop-up event in New York City where they invited women to look not at their body weight, but instead at their biggest achievements and positive attributes like being a single mom to four children, or going back to school at age 55.
Why This Was So Powerful: This type of messaging helped Lean Cuisine form a new, more positive brand identity in the minds of consumers that moved away from pre-existing stigmas or brand perceptions.
3. Spectacles Launch | Snapchat
To promote the launch of their “Spectacles” smart eyewear, Snap Inc. opted to set up a big, yellow vending machine outside of their head office at Venice Beach in California. This is very different from how most tech companies would handle the launch of a brand brand-new product, but it helped build a lot of hype due to the limited access and exclusivity of the vending machine being the only place to get them at first launch.
Why This Was So Powerful: Making your products harder to get can help create more hype and get people more excited about finally owning your products once they get them. The exclusivity of the location also helped increase the shareable FOMO value of the experience for those who were able to attend in-person, boosting the viral success of this as a result.
4. Sparkle Shop | Starbucks
Starbucks opened a pop-up shop to introduce the world to their new carbonated (sparkling) drinks. They invited many bloggers and influencers to come partake in the event, which helped the new drinks go viral on social media.
Why This Was So Powerful: Giving away a few drinks for free in exchange for social media presence helped bring authentic customers in quickly.
5. Taco Bell Hotel | Taco Bell
Another pop-up that went viral on social media was the Taco Bell Hotel. Taco Bell temporarily took over a Palm Springs resort to provide an exclusive list of customers with an immersive Taco Bell resort vacation experience. This experience included being able to try new menu items, a gift shop full of Taco Bell swag, and the entire resort was designed with Taco Bell’s branding and colors.
Why This Was So Powerful: Customers were so eager for an exclusive chance to reserve a room at this hotel and loved being able to see content about the hotel on social media.
6. Rickmobile | Rick & Morty (TV Show)
Rick & Morty, a popular animated show for adults, ran a campaign with a mobile pop-up, featuring a car shaped like, one of the main characters, Rick. Fans of the show were so excited to check out the “Rickmobile” and take photos with the unique car, which led to posts about this campaign going viral online almost instantly.
Why This Was So Powerful: The pop-up promoted the show, prompted fans to post photos online, and also sold branded swag. Brand awareness across the board!
7. Flavor Rooms | M&Ms
Iconic candy brand M&Ms hosted a pop-up in New York City to help them choose a new flavor of M&Ms candy to launch. The event included various “flavor rooms” where each room was dedicated to reflect a specific flavor they were considering, with themed drinks, snacks, and decor.
Why This Was So Powerful: This was an amazing opportunity to have customers provide feedback to help M&Ms pick a new product to release, and doubled as an immersive Instagram-worthy moment for their attendees to create buzz about the brand on social media. The dual purpose of this pop-up served the brand key research data as well as buzz-worthy content that offered organic growth and engagement on social media.
8. Lovers vs. Haters Pop-up | Marmite
Marmite is a divisive condiment that people either love or hate. The brand embraced this fact by running a pop-up for both lovers and haters. Upon entering the pop-up, people’s social media pages were analyzed by a “love-o-meter” to determine how positive their online presence was. If their page was deemed positive, they would be given free products and snacks.
Why This Was So Powerful: This campaign made use of the Marmite slogan “you either love it or you hate it” while promoting positivity online at the same time. Talk about a great way to spread the love and support community all at once.
9. Perrier Greenhouse | Perrier
As a promotion for the green apple flavor launch of their popular sparkling water, Perrier put on an event at a greenhouse that was all green themed. It featured fun activities and samples of their new sparkling water flavor.
Why This Was So Powerful: Giving out free samples allowed Perrier to get a feel for what their customers thought of their new product while also providing a fun experience to build brand loyalty.
10. Dry Shampoo Salons | Batiste
Batiste ran a pop-up salon promoting their dry shampoo products to refresh hair in between shampoos. They had professional hair stylists using their products on guests to allow them to try it out while also trying to break the stigma around using dry shampoo between washes rather than washing your hair every day.
Why This Was So Powerful: This was a creative way to allow potential customers to try out Batiste products before purchasing. Having a professional stylist use the products on people makes the product even more enticing by reinforcing the value of the product in a professional setting.
11. #BrightSide | Mike’s Hard Lemonade
Mike’s Hard Lemonade created an indoor experience featuring a ball pit, karaoke, and a lemonade conveyor belt. It was all decorated in yellow and encouraged guests to have an optimistic outlook with their #BrightSide hashtag.
Why This Was So Powerful: This event helped associate Mike’s Hard and their products with a positive attitude and fun activities. It was a great way to build brand loyalty while putting a positive spin on the brand’s identity.
12. Goodness Machine | GoGo Squeez
GoGo Squeez created a large vending machine shaped like their popular applesauce pouches to sell their products at the Mall of America. To entice participation, the pop-up experience included a giveaway for a winner to get a one-year supply of applesauce products.
Why This Was So Powerful: This campaign was successful because people love a surprising and novel experience of a giant vending machine. Since this product is marketed at children, doing something memorable for kids helped boost the success of the campaign.
In-person activities, scavenger hunts, & games for brand activation
If you’re looking to do some kind of in-person exhibit, display, event, or brand activation games, this section is for you! Here are 10 examples for in-person brand activations.
13. Audible Beach at Comic-Con | Audible
At Comic-Con in San Diego, California, audiobook company Audible created a sand sculpture display on the beach. Attendees were able to observe the literary-themed sculptures while listening to Audible original audiobooks. People could sample their audiobooks while enjoying unique sand sculptures, and their branding and brand message was a prominent component around the display.
Why This Was So Powerful: Audible created an installation that people wanted to take pictures with and was begging to be shared on social media, while also providing samples of their product – audiobooks – to attendees. Art paired with activity is a great way to build curiosity and excitement while also setting the stage for some unique FOMO content.
14. Stratos | Red Bull
Energy drink company Red Bull has associated themselves with extreme sports through sponsorship of events for several years. One amazing example of this was dubbed “Stratos” where in 2012, an Austrian skydiver named Felix Baumgartner set a new record for the world’s highest skydive.
Why This Was So Powerful: Red Bull put on an above average event and landed themselves in the book of world records with this amazing stunt!
15. Jump Store | Adidas
To promote their new basketball shoes, Adidas opened a store with a game that gave participants 24 seconds to jump and try to grab products that were 10 meters up. Adidas had a player from the Chicago Bulls basketball team participating and promoting the campaign, and people were excited for the opportunity to win free products through the game!
Why This Was So Powerful: Adidas was able to promote their shoes in the process of hosting this fun & memorable gamified in-store brand activation.
16. Coloring Book Meetings | Plum Organics
Plum Organics keeps a kid-friendly spirit to their branding, and in keeping with that have hosted internal meetings that bring out the inner child in their employees by offering coloring books during the meetings. These sessions end up being less stressful and more creative as a result, as everyone is enjoying themselves without as much pressure as a typical meeting might have.
Why This Was So Powerful: This example is more of an internal activation than a consumer marketing campaign, however it builds brand loyalty within the company and shows that the brand stands behind its values.
17. Nike Run Club | Nike
The Nike Run Club is a gamified workout experience that encourages users of the app to work out with the app as their companion. It provides workout tips and promotes Nike products at the same time. It also has features for social media sharing, encouraging others to use the app as well. People feel good about themselves using the app, and when suggested products they can buy that will improve their workouts and lifestyle even more, it makes sense to go with Nike since it’s already presented within the workout app.
Why This Was So Powerful: This app has been very successful and profitable for Nike because it promotes a healthy lifestyle with their branding and products in mind, and also builds brand loyalty in the process.
18. Computex | Intel
A very memorable and unique brand activation example is Intel’s Computex trade show which featured a keynote speech presented in the form of a digital hologram. This took place in 2016 and holograms were a new and exciting technological advancement, making this a show-stopping experience for the attendees.
Why This Was So Powerful: Using an emerging and exclusive technology that not everyone has access to makes for a very exciting, unique and memorable experience for your guests, and whenever they think back to that memory, the brand will be in mind as well!
19. 29Rooms | Refinery29
Refinery29 has hosted its 29Rooms event a handful of times, and every time it has become a social media phenomenon. 29Rooms is a giant funhouse featuring 29 separately designed and branded rooms. Refinery29 has partnered with many other brands to sponsor various rooms at the event, including Ulta Beauty, Cadillac, Dyson, and Dunkin’ Donuts. 29Rooms is different every time, so people will want to keep coming back to see what they’ve done the next time! Other companies, like American Express, are already catching on to this format and creating their own exhibitions of immersive themed rooms that feature local artists and brands through partnerships and sponsors.
Why This Was So Powerful: Partnering with popular brands and creating an experience that begs to be posted on social media by its guests made this event a massive success.
20. Twitter Beach at Cannes Festival | Twitter
At the 2019 Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity, Twitter decided to create #TwitterBeach, a space on the beach where attendees could take a break. This was a Twitter-branded VIP hangout spot that included swag giveaways, interviews, and a photo booth to snap some pictures to share. The entire space was beautifully decorated and was definitely tweet-worthy, with various hashtags printed on the walls and on signs encouraging those who attended to share a snap online.
Why This Was So Powerful: Twitter thoughtfully designed the Twitter Beach space for their target audience to get people talking and posting about Twitter and their initiatives.
21. House of Vans | Vans
Vans executed a series of highly successful pop-up skatepark festivals called House of Vans where they host skateboarding events. Vans has run multiple events in their House of Vans spaces, including one for International Women’s Day aimed at female skateboarders. This included lessons, live bands, and a screening of a documentary.
Why This Was So Powerful: House of Vans has helped build relationships and a sense of community between skateboarders and Vans shoes, and these events have also allowed the brand to present themselves as inclusive and supportive of niche communities, like female skateboarders. This further helps build brand loyalty.
22. Burrito Builder | Chipotle & Roblox
On National Burrito Day in 2022, the popular Roblox video game teamed up with Mexican restaurant chain, Chipotle, to create the online “burrito builder” within the Roblox game platform. Participants in the online experience were able to win in-game currency called “Burrito Bucks” and the first 100,000 players to create a virtual burrito were able to win real-world prizes in the Chipotle app.
Why This Was So Powerful: This was a creative and fun collaboration that celebrated a little-known or niche “holiday” and turned gamers into real-life customers.
Virtual, online, & digital brand activation ideas
If your company has a smaller marketing budget or no place to set up an in-person or outdoor brand activation, you can do it remotely instead! Here are five examples of virtual brand activations that were executed online and on television.
23. Virtual Concert | Fortnite
In April 2020, popular battle royale video game, Fortnite, hosted an in-game concert with Travis Scott headlining the event. The virtual concert featured a CGI version of Travis, with amazing graphic design and animation to go along with the musical performance. The concert was only around 10 minutes long but it had over 27 million participants!
Why This Was So Powerful: This was an incredibly unique experience and came at a time when people were feeling down because of the pandemic lockdowns that were still ongoing at the time. It also brought tons of new players to Fortnite.
24. Google I/O | Google
Google I/O was an event with options to attend in-person or online, and featured 360-degree cameras to film the keynote speakers, and showcased Google’s newest developments. Virtual attendees could tune in live on YouTube for free, which made the event very easily accessible.
Why This Was So Powerful: Google I/O drew in attendees from all over the world and allowed them to show off their newest innovations to audiences in person and virtually.
25. Shark Tank | Bala Bangles
Bala Bangles wearable weights marketed their brand by going on the popular entrepreneurial TV show, Shark Tank, having cheerleaders model and demonstrate the use of the products. Bala Bangles’ presentation interested every one of the investors on the show and ended up agreeing to an investment deal with Kevin O’Leary.
Why This Was So Powerful: Bala Bangles’ tapped into the popularity and existing viewership of the established Shark Tank TV show which helped them triple their brand’s revenue in under six months!
26. Virtual Fun Run | Field Mag
In May 2020, Field Mag put on a 0.5k (half-kilometer) virtual fun run race to benefit the food bank of New York City. This was a non-intimidating short (virtual) race that allowed people to participate virtually, while raising funds for local nonprofits. Participants joined the race on Zoom, and their ticket for entry doubled as a donation to the event.
Why This Was So Powerful: During the pandemic people could not gather in large numbers, so this was a creative way to run a charity race without having people gather in-person.
27. Hotel Experience | Stella Artois
Stella Artois ran a giveaway to provide winners with a virtual “hotel stay” and free products. This was a very innovative idea to provide winners with perks of a hotel stay like a “room service” care package, celebrity “hotel staff” on video calls, and more from the comfort of their own home during the pandemic.
Why This Was So Powerful: The “Hotel Artois at Home” experience was successful because it encouraged participants to find ways to enjoy themselves during a time that was hard for everyone, and put their products at the forefront of those daydream visions. Having celebrities participate also made it more exciting!
Creative social media brand activation ideas
Social media platforms like Instagram, TikTok, and more are also a great way to run online brand activations. These can include giveaways, hashtag campaigns, and more. Here are 5 great examples of brand activations on social media.
28. Spotify Wrapped | Spotify
We’ve all seen the year-end summaries of Spotify listening history from throughout the year that our friends share on social media. “Wrapped” is a hugely successful annual brand activation by music streaming service Spotify that shows users what they’ve listened to the most over the past year and provides them with post-ready graphics and assets that they are encouraged them to share on social media. Wrapped has been so successful that other streaming services like Apple Music have created their own imitations of it. And you know what they say, “Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery”!
Why This Was So Powerful: Spotify Wrapped encourages sharing and makes non-users feel the FOMO of not having their recap own to share. This brand activation has driven big increases in profit by promoting sign-ups from people seeing their friends’ posts on social media.
29. Selfie-Mobile at NYFW | Uber & Smartwater
During New York Fashion Week, a collaborative campaign was put on by Uber and Smartwater with a mobile selfie station dubbed “the selfie-mobile.” Guests could get free rides from Uber and enjoy free Smartwater while riding in fancy black SUVs and taking selfies in the back seat. The vehicles were decked out with selfie machines and lighting and the people who participated absolutely loved it. This made for a unique and memorable experience and provided easy shareable photos for guests to post on their social media platforms.
Why This Was So Powerful: This collaborative brand activation was an unexpected, creative setup and provided a ton of social reach thanks to the participants posting online about their experiences.
30. Giveaway RV | Dunkin’ Donuts
Dunkin’ Donuts ran a sweepstakes giveaway as a promotion for their line of iced drinks where the winner would get an opportunity to rent an RV for a road trip of their choosing, plus free drinks and donuts from Dunkin’. Dunkin’ Donuts was able to get trending on social media using their hashtag for this campaign – #DunkinRefreshSweepstakes.
Why This Was So Powerful: One of the requirements to enter the giveaway was sharing on social media, which helped make this campaign as successful as it was.
31. Be a Daybreaker | Lipton Tea
Lipton ran timed giveaways for their iced tea using an original hashtag #beadaybreaker on social media. Running a social giveaway is a great way to get people excited about your brand, and this giveaway was strategically timed to encourage an association between their iced tea products and mornings.
Why This Was So Powerful: Forming new connections between your product and a routine that your potential customers already have in their everyday lives will help make your product stick with them as something that they continue to repurchase time after time as a staple in their daily routine.
32. #SqaureShakes | Sonic
Sonic ran a campaign featuring square milkshakes during the same time periodtime as the iconic music festival Coachella. People could order the milkshakes and get them for free as long as they posted on social media with the hashtag #squareshakes once they received it.
Why This Was So Powerful: Sonic was able to promote their milkshakes and get trending online by having people post on social media and promoting them with an original hashtag.
Educational brand activation event ideas
Our last category is for those looking to educate their audiences or customers about their brand, products, and services through brand activations. Check out these 3 awesome examples of educational brand activations.
33. Worldwide Developers Conference | Apple
Apple hosts their Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) every year to discuss their new innovations, and upcoming product and software launches. This conference has both in-person and virtual guests as they stream the event online for free. Developers and tech-loving customers alike get so excited for this event every year as people wait in anticipation to find out what Apple will be launching next. This is also an opportunity for them to explain how all these new developments came to be and how they function, so it’s a great way to provide information before the products are even available.
Why This Was So Powerful: Hosting product launch events on a regular basis will build excitement as your customers know when to expect these announcements from your brand.
34. SQLBits | SQLBits Ltd
For data professionals, the SQLBits conference was an amazing opportunity to learn about new innovations in the industry, solutions and best practices for the SQLBits platform, and network with thousands of other industry experts. The conference spanned 5 days and had over 300 sessions including talks, workshops, and hands-on demonstrations. Attendees were able to get over 10 hours of specialized training over the course of the event!
Why This Was So Powerful: The promise of hands-on training at your event is a great way to pull in potential attendees. Pair that with an opportunity to network with tons of other people in their industry and your event is a win-win for attendees!
35. INBOUND | HubSpot
Another great example of an annual educational event is HubSpot’s INBOUND marketing event. INBOUND is the place to be for marketing professionals to learn about new strategies, participate in immersive activities, and networking opportunities. From informative sessions to captivating branded displays and fun lawn games, INBOUND has everything a brand needs for a successful educational event.
Why This Was So Powerful: INBOUND provides a variety of activities and sessions to appeal to all their guests while breaking up the information-heavy educational content. This style of attendee-led programming where guests can choose their own adventure keeps things exciting for your attendees!
That wraps up our list of 35 cool brand activation ideas and examples. To help you take your brand activation experience to the next level, partnering with an event marketing agency can helpmake a world of a difference. Get in touch with Impact XM to learn more about how we can curate custom brand experiences tailored to your organization!