Top Pop-ups – A Ghost Store
“Are you ready to check out?” A recent, hauntingly creative pop-up shop gave new meaning to the phrase, and set a new standard in experiential retail. A Ghost Store was scary good.
The thing is, this shop sold nothing. The “product” was a concept; an ephemeral musing about time, the afterlife, love and loss.
Actually, it was. It was also unnerving, playful, challenging, contemplative, beautiful, intense, soothing, eerie and provocative.
Created by A24 to promote the new film A Ghost Story, this creative pop-up shop served not as a coming attraction, but as an otherworldly destination in its own right. An emotion-driven companion piece to the movie, A Ghost Store (gosh, I love the name) was a surreal space where the shopper enjoyed her very own retail-slanted, out-of-body experience.
Upon entering A Ghost Store (right after passing the “Eternity Awaits” sign out front), a soft-spoken, white-clad associate greeted the shopper. Some visitors had already received “the fabric of their lives” (i.e., a sheet) via a stunning digital experience, and were immediately directed to a back room. All others were invited to take the “Survey of Fitness & Resolution” in preparation for a custom fitting. (Sample prompts included, “Illustrate your understanding of time,” “Your deepest curiosity” and “A farewell to someone.”
Following an assessment by another all-in-white associate, the shopper received her sheet (white or pearl), posed for a quick Polaroid, and was ushered through white, billowing curtains to “The Other Side.” One dramatic lighting change later, and the shopper found herself staring into a two-way mirror framing three additional ghosts, creating an infinity of spirits and redefining “meaningful reflection.”
I understand how all this may sound more silly than soulful. But an unexpected and starkly gorgeous execution elevated A Ghost Store from pun-filled camp to melancholy meditation.
What can retail marketers learn from this thoughtful and creative pop-up shop?
Challenge the “impossible.”
When it comes to pop-up and experiential marketing today, anything – literally anything – is possible. On paper, A Ghost Store shouldn’t exist; “A shop that sells sheets for the afterlife” could be a tough pitch. But not in the world of A Ghost Story, where the ephemeral and everyday life merge. This pop-up works because it exists in the universe of the film it supports.
Use details to extend the story.
On opening day, guests of A Ghost Store were welcomed with a complimentary dish of Morgenstern’s artisanal ice cream made from the ashes of burnt coconut shells. At this pop-up shop, they cremated the refreshments. Brilliant, right? And that is only one of many details – from signage to sly video presentations – that made A Ghost Store “real.”
Embrace a unique tone.
A Ghost Store featured a very specific voice and form language (which makes perfect sense, given its source material). Because this pop-up wasn’t about being funny and punny; it wasn’t designed to elicit laughs. Taking cues from the film, the in-store experience flowed almost imperceptibly from goofy to moving. A deep understanding of, and commitment to, a specific tone made A Ghost Store a contemplative, rather than silly, place.
Humor is always welcome.
That last point notwithstanding, it’s OK to have amusing moments in a pop-up – even one dealing with death. Just do it within the context of the experience. At A Ghost Store, I particularly loved the double entendre descriptors of the “product,” including “Built to last” (an eternity, I’m assuming) and “one size fits all.” The “Survey of Fitness & Resolution” made me smile as well.
Integrate digital elements.
A Ghost Store had a robust and satisfying online experience complementing that of the pop-up. The website invited visitors to buy online. The price? An eight-minute mouse click triggering a series of messages (“Go back.” “Remember her.”) that floated across scenes from the movie, backed by spooky music. After the “purchase,” the site haunted those who had visited, randomly popping up with messages. Creators encouraged social sharing with an Instagram program that linked to the visitor Polaroids.
A Ghost Store
51A Chrystie St.
July 7 – July 17, 2017
“Top Pop-ups” is an on-going series about mind-blowing pop-up executions and what we can learn from them.