In a savvy vision of contextual sponsorship, last weekend, US audio brand Sonos collaborated with British virtual band Gorillaz on a hugely hyped pop-up concept called Spirit House in Brooklyn, New York. Visitors had to RSVP online, with the event reaching full capacity soon after launch.
Small groups of fans were given half an hour to tour the ‘house’ – a beguilingly immersive experience that showcased Sonos’s new Playbase home theatre speakers while promoting Gorillaz’ latest album. Once inside the intimate space, they could explore recreations of the kitchen and living room inhabited by the band’s animated characters in the video for the track Saturnz Barz (Spirit House), as Sonos speakers played two songs from the new Humanz album.
A fantasy home theatre filled the next room, where 180˚ projection-mapped animations of the Gorillaz characters were accompanied by two more new tracks playing from a prominently placed Sonos Playbase. The final room put the focus on Sonos products, including a one-off Playbase speaker custom-designed for the band.
The tie-in extends to Sonos’s New York flagship, which opened in mid-2016. The SoHo store is exhibiting artwork by Jamie Hewlett, co-creator of Gorillaz (alongside musician Damon Albarn). The three-day Spirit House activation is due to move to Berlin and Amsterdam.
See also Retail’s Elastic Brands: Stretch & Diversify and Re-Engineering Exclusivity (publishing May 11) for more on Sonos’s canny contextual initiatives, including its Studio music pop-ups blurring the lines between professional practice and consumer culture.