Engaging, playful and contactless – The future of post lockdown activations

Cult brand VANS and creative agency ISinstore collaborate to shape the future of post lockdown engagement, as the global retailer reopens its Oxford Street flagship store with the addition of the playful VANS Family Activation to promote its game changing loyalty app.

As stores around the world reopen their doors, retailers are experiencing new challenges due to shopping habits that have drastically changed over the last few months. Throughout lockdown, online sales grew by 50% – a habit that is speculated to continue, and in July highstreet shopping destinations saw a 47% drop in footfall, despite the reopening of retail at the start of the month.

Bethan Youd, Account Director from ISinstore comments that now, more than ever, brands need to give people a reason to return to physical stores: “While examples of engaging brand activations from the past year have centred around interactivity, tactility and community building, post-lockdown retail is a completely different story. The new challenge, and one that shaped how we approached the VANS Family activation, is how to make two seemingly contrasting concepts – social distancing and physical engagement – work together in order to create something utterly unique that can’t be experienced online, at the same time as making people feel completely safe and comfortable to return to the store.”

Now in its 6th week of trading, Ralph Roberts, VANS Environmental Designer UK & IRE, has reported early success from the activation, commenting that the brand has seen a significant spike in sign-ups since the launch, taking the VANS family to over eight million members globally. Roberts continues that “not only is the activation successfully raising awareness of the VANS family app and generating hype among customers both in-store and across social channels, but we are also seeing the positive impact that an activation like this has on footfall and in-store sales”.

How ISinstore and VANS created an engaging and contactless post-lockdown brand experience:

  • Blending The App World With The Physical: The VANS Family app is all about rewarding true brand fans and members to get access to exclusive products, personalized content and member-only experiences. Customers can interact with installation pieces via QR codes that unlock hidden app features including the opportunity to upload photos of themselves in store in exchange for loyalty points and enter competitions to win prizes including a Spotify subscription, an Instax camera and VANS swag.  All totally digital and completely contactless. ISinstore worked with the app developers to amplify the experience and ensure a seamless visual connection across the app and physical space by creating bespoke graphics that have been incorporated into the app design.
  • New Age Omnichannel: The activation connects VANS’ digital and physical worlds to drive deeper connections with its customers. Going above and beyond the traditional omnichannel approach of creating a seamless retail experience, this activation connects customers with an app that is all about the brand giving back and welcoming new fans into the family, in turn building genuine connection and advocacy. To elevate this feeling of inclusivity in the current climate, ISinstore developed a tangible version of the VANS family with illustrated characters that featured around the space with each unique character linking to the main pillars of the VANS brand – art, skate, music and street culture.
  • ‘Instagrammable Moments’ To Drive Contactless Engagement: The space is punctuated by Instagrammable moments and photo opportunities that make it interactive and engaging without requiring physical touch. One example is the ‘Magic Mirror’ that is designed to simulate reconnection with fellow humans while maintaining social distancing by getting two people to stand either side of a slatted mirror. The result is an abstract ‘together as one’ visual mashup that shows your reflection mixed with the image of another person, making a playful photo opportunity that can be uploaded within the VANS Family app in exchange for loyalty points. 
  • Destination For Brand Fans: The VANS Family activation oozes the creativity, thinking differently and inclusivity that personifies the ‘Off the Wall’ mentality of the brand all wrapped up in a Summer festival aesthetic to recreate the festival vibes that the World has missed out on this year due to the pandemic. ISinstore used contrasting textures and DIY features such as oil-drums, scaffolding and poster-clad hoarding to create an authentic brand aesthetic. Drawing on the brand’s roots in art and street culture, Lead Creative Designer Alan Smith grabbed his overalls, paints and spray cans and set up camp in the workshop to oversee the hand finished elements of the installation and ensure an authentic, tactile and crafted aesthetic.
  • Driving Traffic Into Store: To encourage people to venture beyond the immersive activation which took over the decompression area at the front of the store, the campaign flowed into the shop floor with graphics, festival bunting and an interactive treasure hunt comprised of hidden VANS family characters complete with QR codes that unlock exclusive content, features and loyalty points within the app.


ISinstore collaborated with VANS to deliver a fully omnichannel experience and utilised its full range of services to handle the 360 delivery of the project from the concept through to the installation.

The activation launched on 3rd August 2020 and will run until end October 2020. See it for yourself at 214 Oxford Street, London, W1D 1LA. Follow ISinstore on Linkedin and Instagram for real time updates and visit the website for further information.

The post Engaging, playful and contactless – The future of post lockdown activations appeared first on Retail Focus.

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