The Windows Phone team was looking to make a social media splash with the release of their latest OS update, Mango, and the first full line of phones running on the brand new hardware. Ranging in sizes, styles, and features, Windows Phone lines offer sexy hardware comparable to the iPhone, and a sleek user interface that make both iOS and Android look dated.
Freeman was called upon to organize “VIP events” in upscale bars in thirteen US cities. The challenge was to creatively and organically brand the bars with the Windows Phone presence, and create an upscale, yet casual experience. The goal was to drive awareness of Windows Phone through word-of-mouth and social networks, and turn Windows Phone enthusiasts into Windows Phone evangelists.
I was brought in to help with the project because of my experience throwing successful bar events in the past, as well as to help Freeman discover creative and unique ways to create a memorable experience for everyone involved. In addition, I directed the visual branding of the events, designing all of the event branding and collateral, and bringing our concepts to life.
Freeman designed sleek, self-powered displays for the phones, and a custom charging station to allow patrons to charge their phones while they’re at the bar. Talking to one of the bartenders during the event, he told me not only were the charging stations an ingenious invention, but he’d buy them for the bar if they were for sale! They were incredibly popular, based on the constant huddles I saw gathered around them.
The objectives were to attract 150 tech evangelists per event, and inspire them to spread the Windows Phone message through social media and blogs. A special hashtag was created for each city to encourage discussion during the event. Windows Phones and other prizes were awarded during the event to the best tweets using the city’s hashtag (#wpsea, in our case). Chances to win were amplified when they checked into the Windows Phone Inner Circle event on Foursquare, earning them a nifty Windows Phone badge in the process.
The events were a resounding success from coast to coast. Beginning with the launch event in San Francisco, and ending with the final event in Seattle, Windows Phone generated over 19,000 tweets and over 1,600 checkins through Foursquare. Leading the pack were New York (#wpnyc) and Seattle (#wpsea) with 2,473 and 2,097 tweets respectively (numbers courtesy of PeopleBrowsr and Waggener Edstrom). Talk about amplification! The Seattle event alone attracted well over 200 attendees, and based on some of the conversations I had, the Windows Phone team had been very successful in converting some loyal Android and iPhone users to the Windows Phone experience. I even (briefly) considered giving up my trusty iPhone!
I’ve designed a bunch of tradeshows and events during my time at Freeman, but this was really the first time I got to have a hand in the creative from the beginning, and it was very exciting and fulfilling. I’m extremely proud of the experience we created, and I look forward to creating more of these experiences for other brands.
More photos below.