Grey Goose Pop-Up Invites New Yorkers to Bakery, Speakeasy, and Nightclub

The pop-up activation mixed public and private events to educate consumers about the vodka brand.

By Beth Kormanik October 30, 2013, 7:15 AM EDT

Bartenders at the basement speakeasy served custom Grey Goose vodka martinis, inviting guests to choose bitters and garnishes.

Photo: Merlin Ural/BizBash

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As New Yorkers walked by 632 on Hudson in the West Village, they may have thought a new French café had opened, noticing a sign and welcome mat introducing Boulangerie Picardie and a freshly painted bright blue façade. And one had opened—in a way. Grey Goose created a pop-up pastry and coffee shop this month as part of its Fly Beyond brand campaign.

Passersby could order fresh pastries from Brooklyn bakery Bien Cuit and espresso drinks during the four days the shop was open. The cheery setting was decorated with displays of bread, bouquets of lavender, and an antique cash register (which was simply a prop since items were free). The nods to the brand were subtle, with a brief message on napkins and a hashtag written on a chalkboard behind the counter.

“It's our gift to New York because it was New York that first embraced Grey Goose 16 years ago,” said Paul McDonnell, senior brand manager for Grey Goose in the United States.

The activation continued beyond the public portion. Invited guests could pass through a back door, and, after a quick ID check, find themselves in a rustic room with a long wooden communal table as the centerpiece. A brand ambassador led the “field to bottle” experience, educating guests on the history of Grey Goose. As part of the presentation, guests were offered sample packets of the milled wheat that the brand uses to make its vodka. They could mix it with water and taste the paste, which had a nutty, grassy flavor.

For a finale, Grey Goose cellar master François Thibault—speaking through a translator—presided over a vodka tasting, providing pipettes of water for those who wished to dilute their beverage and hunks of baguette to eat between sips.

Afterward, groups were invited downstairs to a speakeasy where bartenders served vodka martinis to order. A staff member armed with an iPad emailed the specific recipe to guests, who then had the option of sharing it to social media sites.

“The advertising is all about the story of the brand,” McDonnell said. “In the vodka category, we were a pioneer in creating a new segment, the premier niche. We talk about the product rather than the lifestyle.”

While education was a significant part of the activation, there still was a bit of lifestyle mixed in. In the evenings, the boulangerie closed and Grey Goose sponsored a series of performances in an upstairs space from musicians including Amos Lee.

Bamboo London produced the activation, which drew More than 2,600 people during its run October 15 to 18.

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