Brand Activation extends a brands power to communicate. We add reach and meaning, build visibility and memorability and reinforce key associations. Unlocking the latent potential of sports and entertainment brands.



Parc Olympique Lyonnais Signage

CHALLENGE. Olympique Lyonnais needed a clear, distinctive wayfinding and signage strategy for their new 59,186-capacity stadium that would be evocative of the club’s unique identity. With a venue of this scale, the design had to allow visitors the freedom to enjoy the atmosphere of the stadium, without being troubled by navigational concerns.

INNOVATION. Olympique Lyonnais’ visual identity was integral to the design strategy. The overarching approach was to use big signs that could either be painted directly onto target functions or, where necessary, integrated within the surroundings. The color palette for the Parc was chosen for functionality and contrast, with a gesture to the team’s colors of red, white and blue. Entrances are signalled by illuminated blades that taper into the mass of the building, echoing the geometry of the huge roof to form a link between the canopy and the stadium facade.

IMPACT. The directional system devised by Populous Activate has simplified a variety of complex journeys from various entry points and transport hubs outside the stadium. The project picked up a Merit Award for Wayfinding at the 2016 SEGD Global Design Awards. Commenting on the design, the jury said, “This project exemplifies the manner in which a large sports venue can be used for multiple sports and customized to reflect the individual character of any event.”


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The O2 London_London_Entrance

The O2 London

CHALLENGE. Formerly the Millennium Dome, the O2 is one of the world’s most individual contemporary structures. When Populous was challenged by client AEG to construct an arena within its confines, the analogy of building a ship within a bottle – albeit at the largest scale imaginable – came to mind. On top of this, the acoustics within the finished arena had to be world class, in order to attract the calibre of artists that the sponsor was looking for. And, perhaps most challenging of all, we had to change the public’s perception of the Dome – once seen as London’s biggest white elephant, our brand activation team had to turn it blue.

INNOVATIONLogistically, the arena’s roof had to sit tightly beneath the dome liner fabric, with a minimum 4 metre separation for air and smoke reservoir provisions. An innovative structural methodology meant the building cores and roof system could be erected without tower cranes. The arena’s design responds to its unique context, with public concourses wrapped around the event space and seating bowl. Dramatic lighting emphasise the scale and volume of the public space.

IMPACTVoted Best International Arena of the year at the Pollstar Concert Industry awards every year since it opened, the O2 is the biggest ticket-selling arena in the world, out-selling its nearest rival by over 50%.  The arena hosts the most significant events in the world, such as the ATP tennis finals, as well as the highest profile concerts.  On top of this, as the largest entertainment zone in London, the O2 has been a catalyst for the redevelopment of the Greenwich peninsula, prompting valuable additions to the area’s infrastructure such as the new river-boat service. “The O2 Arena is without a doubt the best venue in the world,” says promoter Frank Warren.


World Architecture Festival London Exhibition Design

CHALLENGE. The World Architecture Festival (WAF) needed a branded environment and awards display piece that would become a satellite event to the main festival and awards. With a challenging low budget, the design needed to respond to the vast quantity of submissions and categories, but also to the necessity for modularity, ease of production, and installation at a series of global events.

INNOVATION. Inspired by the Eames’ House of Cards, an architectural structure was created out of 101 pieces of honeycomb card. This animated the identity of the WAF ‘W’ brand form to create a striking exhibition display. In the gallery, submissions were printed onto Tyvek sheets, and hung from the steel ceiling with magnets, creating the impression that they were floating.

IMPACT. The final design was sustainably-produced to be shipped around the world for spin-off events. It became the event’s focal point, and an iconic backdrop to the speakers’ area and performance space. The design received a Merit Award at the 2016 SEGD Global Design Awards.


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From Film to Field: Making ‘Field of Dreams’ a Reality

‘Field of Dreams’ is one of America’s most iconic baseball films. Made in 1989, the film has sparked our imaginations since it was released.  On May 18, 2013, Populous, Pepsi Max and Major League Baseball joined together to recreate an experience loosely based on the iconic film on the field for one lucky contest winner, his friends and more than 14,000 spectators. Held at Frontier Field in Rochester, NY, this year’s Pepsi Max Field of Dreams game allowed Johnny Perotti, an avid baseball fan, and his family and friends to play alongside some of MLB’s legends, in an ode to the movie. Perotti joined forces with Hall of Famers and future Hall of Famers Trevor Hoffman, Wade Boggs, Rickey Henderson, Reggie Jackson, Frank Thomas, Johnny Bench, Fred McGriff, Mike Schmidt, Ozzie Smith and Pedro Martinez.

The Pepsi Max Field of Dreams game is a testament to the power of brand activation, live events and sports. This combination allows fans to be active participants in a sport they love and engage with a brand (in this case, Pepsi Max) building their brand presence in MLB and public good will. The continued success of the event in its second year is an indicator that brands benefit from combining an understanding of consumer’s interests with a big idea and activating across multiple platforms. Pepsi did just that and Populous was proud to be involved as the producer of the event.  From initial concept creation to the development and delivery of the actual event, Populous immensely enjoyed being a part of the event again in 2013. The impact of the game was clear- it was the 2nd largest gathering of Hall of Famers ever and the 2nd largest event to be held in Frontier Field’s history. Fans and players alike were a part of something special.


The London Grand Prix Concept Presented by Santander

CHALLENGE. The London Grand Prix is presented Santander as a short CGI film. In order to fashion a credible foundation for the concept, Santander commissioned Populous to undertake an extensive feasibility plan, embracing all logistical considerations from pits and paddock, grandstands, run-off areas, to kerb profiling, access roads for safety & medical access, catch fencing design, noise attenuation strategies, a night race lighting system, bespoke garage pods, and temporary buildings such as a media centre.

INNOVATION. Populous mapped out some of London’s most recognisable landmarks and integrated them within the layout. The design process was driven by the dual requirements of creating an exciting circuit, while giving the best view of the iconic places associated with it. The garages and hospitality suites are multi-purpose items which can easily be packed up and used elsewhere. It’s a truly ground-breaking idea, and since the vast majority of emissions associated with Formula 1 races are produced by people travelling to the circuit rather than the operation of the racing cars themselves, a real-life London Grand Prix by Santander has been planned as an environmentally sustainable event.

IMPACT. Santander’s London Grand Prix film provides the most comprehensive answer yet to the question of how a Formula 1 street race in the capital might one day look. Bernie Ecclestone says an F1™ race in London would be “magnificent.” Lewis Hamilton hailed the blueprint as “utterly epic.”


New Stadium, Old Spirit

CHALLENGE. Our brief was to develop the environmental graphics and to activate the naming rights sponsorship for Arsenal’s new home, Emirates Stadium. Every sign needed to flow and mesh naturally with the architecture, from the car park, to the ticket booth, to the concourse and finally getting fans to their seats. At the same time, the design solution had to combine the corporate presence with a respect for the club’s tradition – a challenge made doubly hard by not actually knowing who the sponsor for the stadium was until well into the design process!

INNOVATION. The solution to maintaining the club’s sense of tradition was to transport certain elements of Highbury, Arsenal’s former home, into the new facility. The prominent entry signage, for example, is a replica of Highbury’s original Gothic Bank typeface and forms a striking focal point at the new ground.

IMPACT. Our branding of the Emirates Stadium has placed Arsenal and its sponsor at the heart of the community. One of the most successful examples of a sports venue branding in the UK, it meets UEFA’s requirements on physical signage while still delivering widespread brand recognition for Emirates. For fans, the entire journey to, and experience at, the ground reinforces the brand in a subtle yet very effective way.

Telstra Suite Diagram_Credit Populous

Telstra Connected Suite

CHALLENGE: Populous’ challenge was to showcase the possibilities of a “connected Stadium”. Our client, Telstra, had recently installed Wi-Fi at ANZ Stadium and asked us to showcase this potential within their hospitality suite. The result was “The Connected Lounge” – an imaginative and interactive technology centre delivering content simultaneously using several platforms.

INNOVATION: Populous designed a suite that showcased the latest technology and featured Telstra’s Life of Colours theme throughout.
Some of the features of the Connected Lounge include:

  • A “technology gateway” to transport fans into an immersive, technology rich environment.
  • 2.5m x 6m video wall comprising 18 x HD Monitors with the potential for up to seven sources of different feeds
  • A designated area for NRL’s “Mission Control” team to dissect, create, monitor and then visualize all the real-time social data from the game and the latest stats.
  • A purpose built area for Triple M’s “Grill Team” to conduct a live call from the suite
  • 3D surround sound to provide acoustic environment
  • LED coloured lighting which changes colour according to the teams playing
  • Telstra’s “Life in Colours” theme and branding appears in all the furniture selection and suite objects
  • Sports, figures, celebrities and fans seamlessly interacting in the environment

All of this content – Triple M’s (the local radio station) match call, Mission Control’s digital content and various celebrity interviews – is then made accessible via the ANZ Stadium App over the Stadium’s Wi-Fi.

IMPACT: The suite was revealed during the NRL Grand Finals and is the first such corporate suite of its kind in Asia where a sponsor’s customers, NRL fans and partners all have a chance to be part of a new type of live game experience.
“The Connected Lounge is the blueprint of how we’ll continue to deliver on our Connected Stadium strategy at our other stadiums throughout Australia, and how we’ll engage with customers and fans through digital channels,” said Matt McCann, Telstra’s Group Media Manager.
“We want to connect with our customers on a personal and meaningful level through tailored content, to deliver on Telstra Media’s strategy to create different content experiences anywhere, anytime on any screen.”
At Populous, we do not believe developing digital activations like Telstra’s Connected Lounge is the exclusive domain of the telecommunication or digital companies. With the consumer expecting she or he will always be “on” (and every leading company knowing it must embrace the potential of digital into its business model), we anticipate there will be more and more exploitation of digital infrastructure by brands, both at stadiums and other venues.


Kentucky to the Core

CHALLENGE. With the design of KFC Yum! Center, home court of the University of Louisville Cardinals basketball teams, Populous faced the challenge of embedding the character of both the Cardinals brand and the rich community heritage of Louisville.

INNOVATION. Utilizing a multi-faceted approach to identify cultural brand attributes and also spaces within the building where sponsors’ brands could be brought to life in a three-dimensional way, every facet of the visitor experience originates distinctly from the identity of the people and the place. The arena was designed to be a series of interwoven destinations that resonated from the core of Louisville.

Large-scale graphic elements and iconography create a sense of basketball tradition throughout the interior of the building, while Louisville’s bluegrass and bourbon distillery heritage are manifested through various club spaces where rich materials, dynamic lighting and unique furniture enhance the branded experience. These include premium clubs such as the Evan Williams Bourbon Bar, Burnettes V Lounge and Woodford Reserve Club as well as the public Kentucky Ale bar.

IMPACT. In the KFC Yum! Center Populous achieved an intimidating home court for Louisville Cardinal basketball and powerful sponsor presence designed to appeal to a wide cross-section of fans and potential partners. The new arena embodies the character of the community, the University of Louisville Cardinals brand and creates an emblematic symbol of Louisville’s ongoing urban renaissance.


Outfield Experience Invigorates Royals Brand

CHALLENGE. During the renovation to Kauffman Stadium, home of the Kansas City Royals, the Populous design had to meet increasing fan expectations for an exciting game day experience. The renovation goal was to create a 360-degree branded fan experience while integrating some of the ballpark’s most iconic existing features.

INNOVATION. Based on the concept of the ‘three-inning tour’ – creating a new experience every three innings for fans – Populous developed the Kauffman Outfield Experience to enhance the ballpark’s entertainment value and celebrate the history of the team. With something for all ages, the Outfield Experience incorporates everything from a children’s carousel and miniature golf course to a sports bar and party deck. Now the largest in Major league Baseball, the full-bleed LED scoreboard is topped with a sculptural metal crown that modeled after the iconic original. In addition, fans can now take a stroll along the famed stadium fountains for a refreshing view and an up-close encounter with outfield play.

The Outfield Experience features one of Major League Baseball’s largest halls of fame. Fans enter a model dugout space by walking down the player concourse with the sound of metal scraping cement; they then watch a film about the history of baseball in Kansas City while the smell of fresh grass and popcorn is piped into the room. The museum also features a variety of interactive, multi-sensory elements such as a design-your-own-ballpark kiosk and a you-call-the-play broadcast booth overlooking right field.

IMPACT. Populous changed the dynamic of a day at the ballpark through re-activation of Kauffman Stadium. Most notably, Populous maintained the elements most core to the stadium’s brand – its iconic crown scoreboard and outfield water fountains – with a modern twist. The innovative brand activation of Kauffman Stadium offers a renovation model for other MLB ballparks.


Innovation Meets Fan Interaction

CHALLENGE. Pittsburgh is a city deeply rooted in the heritage of the past but with a bright optimism for the rapidly changing future. With this in mind, the Pittsburgh Penguins National Hockey League club made their core market strategy to align the Penguins brand with innovation and a young, progressive fan demographic in their new home, CONSOL Energy Center.

INNOVATION. The All-Time Team Celebration is a technologically innovative fan experience designed to offer a dynamic first impression to the arena. Fans can engage with three life-like interactive Stanley Cups and each of the Penguins all-time inductees through the use of touch screens and highly sophisticated graphic interfaces.

Cutting-edge augmented reality technology is also showcased in the “Put Your Game Face On” interactive experience in which fans can manipulate four fully interactive magic mirrors to playfully transform themselves in a number of fun and entertaining ways. Even young hockey fans are able to participate in the interactive experience in a dedicated kid zone.

IMPACT. Populous was able to bring the Penguin’s brand story to life while enhancing the fan experience. The interactive experiences in CONSOL Energy Center give fans the ability to not only be influenced by their surroundings, but to individually shape their personal venue experience as a valuable and lasting memory.