A beauty playground that’s enough to make you blush

By Jess C on 18 June 2019

Crossing the threshold into this dimly lit extension of the Old Truman Brewery is akin to stepping into a seductive club scene – it both dizzies and delights from the moment you pass the towering poster of Naomi Campbell. This immersive experience – ‘The O by Nars’ – promises tantalising visuals and a sensorial playground with plenty of opportunities for a dreamy Instagram moment.

In celebrating its iconic peachy powder (with the blush-worthy name, ‘Orgasm’) Nars has created a pop-up worthy of fashion editorials. And after being given my own personalised RFID key card, designed to capture and send photos from each room and promote social sharing, I feel like a high-flyer ready for her close-up.

The gilt walls, fuchsia-pink details and soft-voiced guides don’t disappoint. Five rooms, each tapping into a different sense – sight, touch, smell, sound and taste – evoke the idea of pleasure in subtle and clever ways:

‘See Me’ sends me around a gleaming merry-go-round, as I awkwardly try to pose seductively in a plasticine bubble. (Spoiler alert: I fail.)

‘Touch Me’ invites us to bounce and poke 120 latex balloons. Naturally, I start singing Nena’s hit song, 99 Luftballoons. People don’t appreciate this as much as I thought they would.

‘Smell Me’ is a dreamland of heady perfume and sets a new standard for swing sets. (Basically, swings will never be the same again.)

‘Hear Me’ invites us peer inside an orb to experience the branded video content.

‘Taste Me’ is my personal favourite: trying to catch strawberry-flavoured edible bubbles for the perfect Boomerang video. Plus, we get takeaway candy floss for the journey back to the office. ?

So what’s the secret formula for a pop-up?

First, you must know your consumers’ appetites to further expand (and deepen) the consumer journey. And in this new ‘Age of Whatever’, customers would rather be immersed in the brand’s identity than be sold to. The era of fake news and declining trust in traditional marketing methods leave a gap for pop-ups and experiences to fill, becoming the disruptive channel to connect with customers. The numbers speak for themselves, with research commissioned by Set Creative revealing that 73% of consumers in the UK and US are more likely to purchase a product if they have taken part in a live brand event.

Of course, pop-ups need to meet certain criteria to be considered “good” and positively influence attendees’ opinions on the brand behind the event. These criteria being: exclusivity; encourages engagement; experiential and straying from convention; and showcases and builds brand knowledge. Ultimately, making people feel appreciated and entertained creates a special kind of value and means they’re more likely to purchase and recommend your brand.

And as brands explore the power of the pop-up, understanding the physical and emotional impact on consumers is imperative. It’s less about counting impressions and more about making impressions that count.

I won’t lie. As soon as I left ‘The O by Nars’ – with the taste of strawberries and cream bubbles still on my tongue – I shopped like I was planning to immigrate to the Moon. Maybe it’s okay to be a Narcissist after all?

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