“It's not often in this business that you get to design something that's not that attractive—that's hideous, even,” said Jason Wanderer of the Los Angeles-based Precision Event Group. But a sleek, stylish setting wasn't what Fox Searchlight Pictures had in mind for the promotion of its new film Cedar Rapids at the Sundance Film Festival, which wraps in Park City, Utah, on Sunday.
The film centers on an insurance agent played by Ed Helms, who “works at this cheesy, corny company called Brown Star,” said Wanderer. Working the studio's publicity team, Wanderer and his team turned a Main Street art gallery into a pop-up replica of the unsightly insurance company.
The activation is open to all Sundance attendees. “There are so many experiences at the festival, and the majority of them—besides the screenings, which of course require tickets—are by invite only,” said Wanderer. “So sometimes we had lines of hundreds of people waiting to come in [to the pop-up], because we were one of the few events that everyone was invited to."
The democratic guest list ultimately helped the studio publicize the film. One of the on-site activities allowed guests to create Brown Star-branded lanyards at a computer kiosk. “Because this was open to everyone, we even had meter maids and UPS men walking around with Cedar Rapids lanyards. It was such a great avenue for promotion,” Wanderer said.