Luxury brand Coach is launching a six-day brand experience in New York City that explores "conscious consumerism" by offering nothing to purchase but "mindfulness" and "self-expression."
"Coach approached us to conceptualize something completely fresh for the brand to introduce their signature monogrammed print to a new audience; something that would talk to the cool kids," says Jack Bedwani, founder, partner of The Projects*, the consultant that the brand worked with on the effort.
This is the first time Coach has embarked on this type of marketing experience. Historically, as with most luxury brands, Coach has relied on runway shows and in-store events to talk to its customers.
Now, Coach’s new CMO, Carlos Becil, is "shaking that model up" with brand activations that take the brand outside the store and into the world.
The Life Coach activation is split among four rooms that have been specifically curated for a New York audience. After entering a David Lynch-esque check-in room, participants proceed to what appears to be a white subway platform where guests receive a Coach Signature tool-kit, with brushes, markers, stickers and stencils, to engage in some graffiti art.
The “Dark Forest” room offers tarot card readers, and the Coney Island-inspired “Fairground” room allows guests to play classic carnival games like Skee-Ball and Wheel of Fortune.
As each guest passes from one room to the next, they must redeem a signature coin to gain passage through the entire journey. The experience will also host musical performances from Stretch Amstrong, Mike Q and Venus X.
In all, the goal is to promote the Coach brand without specifically selling Coach products. There's no freebie swag, branded gimmicks or toys. "It’s not about promoting material acquisition just for the sake of it. It’s the antithesis of throw-away culture," says Bedwani.
"The thing that’s clever about this is that when you see the billboards, or even when you go to the website to sign up, you’re not entirely sure what it is. Is it a Coach initiative?" asks Bedwani. "Or is it something else altogether? What am I stepping into here? What does it mean? It raises questions before it answers them, which is what creates dialogue."
Still, it is a challenge to create an experience that invigorates the brand's signature monogrammed print for a new Millennial audience which hasn't previously felt any connection to this iconography. "What connects us all?" says Bedwani. "Essentially, it’s shared values, and Coach has really strong values."
Online pre-registration is pretty much booked almost a full week before the event officially launches on June 12. Although there are both qualitative and quantitative metrics to measure how well Life Coach is received, Bedwani says the "marker of true success" will be not just the immediate dialogue that the brand expects to see in New York City, but the "meaningful conversation that we’ll be able to continue and expand on with Life Coach."