Urban Barn’s Big Brother-Style Winter Olympics Initiative


One of the most interesting non official initiatives at Vancouver’s Winter Olympics came from Urban Barn in the form of its HomeOnHowe campaign.


The initiative saw the manager of an Urban Barn store move into his shop for the duration of the games. Living Big Brother style in the retail space meant eating, sleeping, inviting friends round and having his whole life streamed online and covered on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.


The objective was, of course, to promote the store’s seven flagship furniture suites. The campaign was also partly an attempt to drive brand and product awareness through PR and buzz and partly to encourage shoppers to donate to the Canadian Paralympics Foundation.


Manager Robbie Romu lived in the shop for the full 17 days of competition. Yes, he did have basic home comforts such as a shower and a toilet. He was not allowed to leave and customers and passers-by were invited to join him in store to enjoy one of the events scheduled for the campaign that ranged from event’s being shown on big screens, to live performances, a comedy night, and Wii challenges. The stay began on February 12 with a scented candle torch relay between the two stores, continued with Rob watching the Opening Ceremony with sixty friends




It might sound basic and somewhat gimmicky, but this initiative certainly generated an avalanche of cyber PR. A multi-media programme leveraging numerous platforms to spread the word, it seems a clever and legal way to leverage a major sporting event without fear of legal action from the rights owners.









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