Destination: We're all off to... New York

Think big, think iconic. New York is a city bursting with experiential possibilities.

The Americas Cup in New York attracted around 175,000 people this year
The Americas Cup in New York attracted around 175,000 people this year

What's it known for?

The indomitable Big Apple packs a punch in the world of brand experiences, being one of the favoured US cities for activations. From the heart of Manhattan through to Coney Island, brands have created awesome experiences to engage their consumers and create memorable campaigns against the city's iconic backdrops. Indeed, Times Square itself is revered by many as the very birthplace of experiential, and The Hunger Games, Dr Pepper, Toyota, Samsung and Levi's are among a snapshot of the brands to activate campaigns on the site.

Brand hotspot

The commercial intersection between Broadway and Seventh Avenue boasts an impressive footfall all week, making it a much-desired location for brands. It has featured everything from a giant stress ball to the city's tallest climbing wall. The latter was created by City Eventions for Toyota, with a giant billboard doubling up as a climbing wall for adventure seekers.

The annual New Year's Eve ball drop also affords brands a prime celebration with NYC consumers, along with the bonus of a global audience. Past sponsors include Nivea, Cosmopolitan and Covergirl.

Magnum activated its dipping bar ice-cream pop-up on Prince Street, Soho. The area has locations that can be hired by brands, while Bleecker Street is also a favoured backdrop for pop-ups, with spaces such as Bleecker Event Hall available for short hires.

The High Line, owned by the City of New York, is a former rail track turned public park and has fast become one of the top visitor attractions in the city, as well as an unusual landscape for activations. In April, Marimekko created an installation on the High Line featuring swings, a soundboard and a giant pouffe adorned in the Finnish brand's signature prints to highlight its collaboration with retailer Target.

Coney Island's enduring popularity with brands is perhaps best explained by its beach sampling potential and fan base. Mermaid Parade has an attendance of more than 700,000 spectators and past sponsors include Zipcar.

Among the other events in New York that offer prime opportunities for sponsorship and activation, the America's Cup stands out. Held at the start of May this year, this annual gathering of the world's yacht-sailing elite welcomed an estimated 175,000 people across the weekend, with the main event village based at Brookfield Place Waterfront Plaza across the Hudson River, with views of the Statue of Liberty.

Luxury goods brand Louis Vuitton is the current event sponsor, while other brands activating in the event village this year included Bremont Watches and BMW, showcasing its electric car.


Venue hire company Event159 offers pop-up and event spaces across the city, including gallery space on Mercer Street and event locations in Greenwich Village. Newcomer and beautiful behemoth to the scene is Spring Studios (above), in Tribeca, between Soho and West Village.

The studios can host 2,500 guests across 4,200sqm of blank canvas spaces, with floor-to-ceiling windows offering skyline views and quirky green rooms overlooking the main studios. A private cinema for 65 people and a rooftop terrace for 300 will open this summer. Jaguar and Tresemme are among the brands to have held events in the space, which is also the main base for the Tribeca Film Festival and home to agency Spring.

Soft-drinks brand Pepsi has announced plans for a series of event spaces across the US, with the first flagship venue to open in New York's Meatpacking District this year. The brand has collaborated with hospitality group The Metric to launch Kola House, with Kravitz Design creating the interior. This includes the event space and a lounge, plus a bar and restaurant offering drinks and a menu inspired by the kola nut. The event space aims to draw in influencers from the worlds of culture, music, style, film and sports, with a 'Live at the Kola House' programme of intimate gigs capitalising on Pepsi's partnership with Live Nation.

Other venues worth checking out include Old Bowery Station by the New Museum and Bowery Ballroom, Milk Gallery in the Meatpacking District, Seaport Studios in the financial district and the Art Deco masterpiece that is Skylight One Hanson.


Who doesn't have a base in New York these days? Wasserman, George P Johnson, Momentum Worldwide and FreemanXP are just some of the agencies with bases on both sides of the pond. The NYC experiential scene is diverse, with agencies owned by advertising giants vying for clients alongside smaller boutique players. Pop2Life, Magnetic and MKG are among the agencies creating enviable experiences Stateside.

And another thing

Two words - Hudson Yards. Dubbed the new heart of New York, this ambitious Manhattan project will bring more than 1.6m sqm of commercial and residential space that already has the experiential world engaged. It is set for completion in 2024, and 125,000 people a day will work in, visit or call Hudson Yards their home, giving it obvious consumer activation appeal. The site will include more than 100 shops, a collection of restaurants, 14 acres of public open space, a 200-room luxury hotel and The Shed arts centre. It is an eight-year wait - but one worth noting now.

Top Tip

Empire Outlets is set to open next year in St George, Staten Island waterfront, bringing a vast expanse of retail space to the city. The location will feature 100 shops, waterfront food and beverage options, plus a 190-room boutique hotel with 2,000sqm of event space and a rooftop lounge. The development also includes the New York Wheel, set to become the tallest observation wheel in the world.

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