Surprising Spaces

Beyond a cookie-cutter activation

We’re in the business of hosting some of the world’s best experiential, and that’s what we love at Westfield Rise. The range of creativity and new ideas on how to get the best of our spaces is inspiring. Experiential, without a doubt, is in its element. A report from URW on ‘How We Shop Now’ found out that 2025 will be the tipping point where retailers focus more on experience than sales in their bricks and mortar retail stores. Creating spaces that truly immerse your brand to consumers is no easy feat, and there’s a variety of factors that contribute to its success. Timings, build quality, mechanic, environment and content are basic foundations for success. But finding a way to connect people to the place in a unique way is what makes experiential even better. And sometimes, the set spaces in a ratecard just isn’t enough.

We love to do things ‘off book’ – finding an unused space or asset that isn’t conventional to do something memorable and bespoke to the activation objectives. It can create more conversation, more engagement and that extra magic that makes people positively remember your brand.

Create a connection with the community

We looked at an unused space and thought how to serve the community and use a space as an anchor to reflect a brand’s sustainability mission. Enter Timberland and the Nature reserve.

Timberland and Westfield regenerated a previously disused space into a biodiverse environmental hub that can be used by the local community. With support from a digital media campaign, the brand also used the Nature Reserve to run workshops and host volunteer days on site throughout the year.

The Nature Reserve hosts a variety of different areas including a wild flower meadow, insect hotels, beehive, fruit trees, vegetable beds and a pond area. We’ve even been able to harvest our first proper pots of honey from this partnership, which has gone viral on LinkedIn posts as a genuine and authentic partnership, aligned to the brand ethos.

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Flip the space’s intended purpose

Who needs stairs or an escalator when you can slide down instead? In Germany, Vodafone accelerates Leine-Center Laatzen visitors to Giga Speed, transforming an escalator into a bright red slide. Visitors, accelerated to top speed, experienced how data feels in the provider’s lightning-fast fibre-optic network. A 10 metre long slide, selfies in a wind-tunnel setting and a whole new way to experience a brand. A moment to spark some joy, make our audience do a double-take and get outside their thinking of what’s a normal shopping centre experience. It’s a huge benefit of being a privately owned space, where if you ask – we’ll do our best to make it happen and find a solution (with the help of some understanding health and safety officers!)

Westfield Stratford City also saw a similar setup, converting half the stairs into a slide – so the idea is catching on around our centres!

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Enhance a space’s best qualities

It’s another question of ‘can we use a space that’s not on the ratecard?’ where Starbucks spotted the great Living Wall at Westfield London. A green wall measuring 1,400m², with over 35,000 plants, was a perfect and fresh canvas to promote Starbuck’s frozen iced teas ‘Teavana’. Decorated with 3D fruit was one thing, but being able to smell and taste the product from the wall itself? It’s a Willie Wonka inspired experience – by using mist spray bursting from the wall to give shoppers a wonderful surprise and delight on so many senses. Added bonus of being in close proximity to drive to store and promote the new range.

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Create that water-cooler conversation moment

Tudum! The infamous sound of Netflix arrived at Westfield Forum des Halles in Paris. The deal includes a joyful 'Tudum' Christmas tree, media domination and, most importantly, billboard with messages changing nearly every week. What we love most is that these aren't straight forward messages to promote releases, it's about promoting conversation with Netflix's signature wit and smart copy writing, showcased on a nostalgic cinema marquee signage, the epitome of classic entertainment. Using the billboard to keep up with the changing conversation of the week as seen on Twitter, it becomes a social moment of 'what will they talk about next?' for visitors who regularly pass the site. We've seen this special Netflix billboard in major cities across the globe and we are proud to amplify Netflix's messaging in the heart of Paris on our platform. It’s a perfect example of how hard our assets can work with the right creative and how a bespoke partnership still ladders up to the brand’s wider conversation and other platforms.

Every year we ask our teams across Europe to give us their best in class examples of how to use a space creatively. And often, its where a client has come to us for something purely bespoke to the environment.

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