By Anna Sekula Posted December 15, 2010, 9:10 AM EST
NEW YORK When Hendrick's Gin was in the process of planning a five-day series of what it called “fireside chats,” the producers realized they could take full advantage of their monthlong lease on their venue and extend the marketing platform to include an additional two weeks of promotions. The end result was the Hendrick's Gin “Enchanted Forest of Curiosities,” an experiential pop-up inspired by offbeat illustrations of its newly relaunched Web site, which incorporated window performances, private events with four key partners, and an open-to-the-public bazaar. Starting with the promotional windows on November 29, the temporary site at Gallery 151 played host to events from Share Our Strength, New York magazine, Eater.com, and The Onion last week, and serves as the second location for Bust magazine's Craftacular this week, closing up Friday.
“Instead of one week, we got three weeks out of it,” said independent event producer and designer Miguel Calvo, formerly with the Rockwell Group, who coordinated the effort alongside Maloney & Fox and Adam Aleksander Presents. Calvo added that by incorporating the various event partners, the effort was able to reach more than just gin drinkers with a program that included a spoken-word performance, music, gift shopping, and even a roast of chef Floyd Cardoz. “What we were trying to do was get different demographics, so we cast a very wide net.”
To ensure that its own branding wasn't lost amidst the activities of the various events, Hendrick's festooned the small downtown gallery with a bevy of woodland decorations that put its name in obscure places. This included tree-stump stools with the letter H burned into the tops, “Hendrick's” painted into a mural of a forest, and a small sign over the freestanding treelike structure that served as the photo op area. Making up the rest of the scenery was a floor of dirt, grass, and bark, a ceiling strung with Spanish moss and fabric on fishing wire, a wooden stage designed to look like a oversize stump, and a DJ booth hidden in a tree.
The production team also made an effort to craft unusual setups for the bar, giving the team from Contemporary Cocktails playful areas to mix and serve their drinks. In one instance, a bartender stirred, shook, and passed tipples from the inside of a hollowed-out piano; in another, a mixologist poured punch from a wishing-well-style prop. The main bar itself was housed inside a treelike frame.
In fact, for Calvo, the biggest advantage of having numerous small events was the ability to create an elaborate environment for 200-person gatherings. “If we had done an event for 1,000, it would have felt like a mass-produced, churned-out machine,” he said. “But doing more curatorial, artisanal stand-alone evenings as part of a series meant that we still had the same amount of foot traffic, but in a more intimate setting, with a more handmade kind of feel.”