Bank of America Builds Pop-Up Home for the Holidays

Instead of creating a pop-up in an existing building, Bank of America constructed a temporary space of its own as part of the marketing efforts to reintroduce its BankAmericard brand.

By Anna Sekula November 29, 2007, 3:06 PM EST

The Fifth Avenue home of Bank of America's 10-day promotion.

Photo: Ray Perfetti

Bank of America's Gift on Fifth Pop-Up
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While other pop-ups take over preexisting buildings, Bank of America took its holiday promotion one step further by constructing its own temporary space from the ground up. Erected on an empty lot at the northwest corner of 36th Street and Fifth Avenue and dubbed the “Gift on Fifth,” the 3,500-square-foot gift-box-shaped structure served as the platform for the bank's promotion of its BankAmericard brand. Running for only 10 days, the promotion opened to the public on one of the busiest shopping days of the year, Black Friday, November 23, and will run through this Sunday, December 2.

With animated window displays, an ATM, a tree-lined terrace, and bathrooms outside, and a lounge, massages, carolers, and a children's play area inside, the site is designed as a pit stop for holiday shoppers—as well as a low-pressure environment for visitors to chat with bank reps about the bank card. Naturally, the bright-red Bank of America logo is emblazoned on freebies like oversize shopping bags (made from recyclable materials), cups for coffee and hot chocolate, and umbrellas. As an added draw, the Gift on Fifth also offers free gift wrapping, concierge services (a perk that comes with the card), and digital holiday cards to post and share on the Internet.

”[The goal of] the Gift on Fifth was to create a sustained experiential event during a key moment of time, in this case raising awareness of a new credit-card offering at a time when there is maximum awareness on purchasing during the holiday season,” said Peter McKillop, the bank's consumer and small-business banking communications executive.

Not all components of the promotion are brazenly commercial: The bank partnered with the Make-A-Wish Foundation of Metro New York to sponsor the wishes of five local children. The bank and the nonprofit already have a national relationship that includes Make-A-Wish Foundation-branded credit cards.

Building its own venue for the promotion gave the bank a large amount of control over the look; however, such an extensive project required a crew of event producers, architects, and engineers to design and construct a venue that would be structurally sound and conform to the codes and regulations set by the city. Bank of America hired Concentric Communications to oversee the buildout and implement design elements with the help of 513 East 12th Street Storefront, Production Glue, McLaren Engineering Group, A.Form Architecture, and hands from theatrical stage-workers union Local One.

The setup involved a 5,000-pound sheet-metal ribbon and ensuring the stability of the temporary foundation and other structural pieces against the weather. Construction started November 1, giving the team a little more than 20 days to put it all together. It helped that the project was supported by city agencies, including the Department of Buildings, which approved a Temporary Place of Assembly permit. Upon completion, the venue looked more permanent than temporary, with hardwood floors, A.D.A.-compliant ramps, and large LED screens on the interior and exterior of the building.

Between 5,000 and 6,000 people have visited the Gift on Fifth daily, and when we asked the bank whether it would consider taking the promotion to another city—or bringing it back next year—McKillop said, “Too soon to tell, but anything is possible.”

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