Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield shopping centres are constantly transforming to create unique customer experiences for visitors. Throughout all of the Group’s regions, many initiatives are led to innovate and make destinations always more attractive, fun and innovative. As a response to the past challenging year, shopping centres have been even more creative and innovative to make destinations welcoming, entertaining and Covid-friendly. Whether it be through art, events, games, digital or in-situ initiatives: shopping destinations are reinventing how we entertain!
Using art as a tool to help and support communities and retailers
For the past year, different artistic projects have been launched in URW shopping centres to support the cultural and artistic world while contributing to the fight against Covid-19. For instance, the French painter ZoulliArt did an artistic performance at So Ouest shopping centre (France): he realized a huge hoarding in the heart of So Ouest and applied touches of paint directly on the canvas. In June 2021, the painting will then be auctioned to donate funds to the Franco-British hospital for medical equipment purchase.
Other in-situ artistic events in the form of photographic exhibitions were launched in the past months. Again, So Ouest welcomed a photo exhibition entitled “Our retailers, these superheroes” to honor them for their work and resilience. Tenants of the centre and retailers from the city were shot by the photographer Ernest Oum, in one-of-a-kind black and white portraits wearing superheroes face masks as a symbol of their day-to-day engagement to stand as front-liners while serving customers. This exhibition, in partnership with ACAL (the Levallois-Perret Association of Traders and Craftsmen) and supported by the City of Levallois, was devised as a symbol of cohesion and unity.
Another photo exhibition called “The Ordinary?” was organised in Galeria Mokotów in Poland, to show support and appreciation to frontline workers in the fight against Covid-19. For 3 weeks, the centre hosted an exhibition of 60 portraits of the employees of the Central Clinical Hospital of Ministry of the Interior and Administration in Warsaw. Monika Szałek, the author of the photos and the initiator of the charity campaign “The Ordinary?” captured the emotions of doctors, nurses, paramedics, the cleaning service and everyone working in the facility.
These initiatives definitely reinforced solidarity, local roots and synergies by supporting artists and helping local communities in need through donations and material support.
Reinventing events and entertainment remotely
Shopping centres have once again been really innovative in the way they interact with visitors and local communities to stay in touch while respecting social distancing rules.
In Galeria Wilenska, in Poland, two online concerts were hosted on the centre’s rooftop that has a stunning view on the Warsaw skyline. The concerts were performed by two artists Karolina Czarnecka and Czesław Mozil, nationwide well-known performers and local residents. Both concerts were streamlined on social media. This way, the centre could ensure a different kind of entertainment while keeping everyone safe and engaging with a wider audience.
Similarly, a one-of-a-kind event was organized at Westfield Chodov in Czech Republic. On the occasion of St Nicolas Day (largely celebrated in Czech Republic), a Drive-in Experience was offered to approximately 200 members of the centre’s loyalty program. Families (in their cars) were picked and were offered a 5-minute tailor-made show in a special drive-in tent on the rooftop parking lot. The idea was to give children the chance to celebrate St Nicolas differently this year by interacting with actors (in the role of St Nicolas) while staying safe in their cars.
Besides, in Slovakia, Aupark teams created a podcast in collaboration with NOSENE, an organization that selects and recycles used clothes to resell them on the Slovak market. The podcast aimed at educating consumers on a more sustainable approach to retail, raising awareness on the impact of Covid-19 on businesses and putting the spotlight on Aupark’s retailers. This was a new way of interacting with customers during lockdown: each episode focused on a different topic (sustainable food, modern lifestyle, sustainable consumption, the consequences of Covid-19…) with a different guest (celebrity, expert, Aupark’s retailer).
For shopping destinations, these events were all innovative ways of creating strong and unforgettable experiences for customers, and reinforcing their local engagement in this challenging period.
Creating interactive entertainment through games and sport
Some shopping destinations overcame restrictions to create meaningful and valuable interactive experiences for customers without compromising on the enjoyment.
For instance, Westfield Stratford City in the UK that partnered with the brands LEGO and Ocean Outdoor for a state-of-the-art immersive experience. The experience allowed consumers to create their own LEGO models virtually thanks to a touch-free Ocean Outdoor screen. Triggered by natural hand interactions, users felt the bricks mid-air and picked them up on the large Four Dials screen to create cars, ducks and trains. As part of LEGO’s ‘Rebuild The World’ campaign, it aimed to encourage children to develop the skills needed for tomorrow’s world by celebrating their creative resilience and imagination.
At Westfield London, in August 2020, an interactive game was launched on Ocean’s large format screen on Eat Street – a high footfall location – in collaboration with the Plastic Soup Foundation. Each participant was invited to scan a QR code on their own device and their device became a game controller, connecting them to the Eat Street screen on the Southern Terrace, thus ensuring a touchless experience. The Plastic Soup Foundation collaborated to highlight the negative impact of plastic waste in our waterways and oceans, a message aligned with the Group’s Better Places 2030 strategy. People were encouraged to download the My Little Plastic Footprint app to start reducing their own plastic footprint.
All shopping centres have been truly mobilized and engaged to build even stronger local communities, while offering visitors a unique and new experience whether in the physical space or remotely when necessary, which shows once again the Group can attract visitors and reinvent “being together” by constantly adapting and innovating.Julie Villet