Jingle my balls
Mobile-only web app for this event here (ages 18+). Must be viewed on mobile.
A cocktail bar on a busy street of bars in Geneva planned to inaugurate a second room in its basement. It needed a bold launch event to stand out from the competition and create a separate identity for its new space, "Studio B."
Art direction / experiential strategy / experience design / party planning / PR / live event production / digital marketing / web app design / app UX/UI / copywriting
I was the Art Director / Experiential Strategist of this event.
Maison Balkii's plan for its second room was a space for private rentals. But before being remodeled, the basement had previously been used for a mishmash of purposes including storage, free alternative-music concerts, and after-parties. When the basement re-opened under the new name "Studio B," it did not have a strong identity, hence demand to privatize lagged.
How to create demand for privatizing a space in which people were used to partying for free? Maison Balkii lacked clear positioning for the new space. It was imperative to determine their rental market then tailor an identity to that target.
Maison Balkii determined that their ideal rental clientele were high-income private clients aged 30-50 as well as brands in the fashion, alcohol, and cigarette industries looking to throw small, branded events. There was a clear "cool" component to the target audiences; therefore, the goal became making "Studio B" the coolest sought-after address in town.
The "Big Idea" was to throw a never-before-seen and an incredibly difficult-to-enter party which would make "Studio B" the unequivocal talk of the town. We'd make invitations extremely hard to come by. We'd create over-demand by publicly broadcasting limited space and strict time slots for entry. We'd even create time-slotted waitlists. In order to disassociate the space from any prior "free entry" reputation and to add to the hype, we'd reveal the party location only at the very last moment. We'd generate in-street buzz on the night by having guests queue outside the venue in mandatory costumes. We would not allow photographs or cellphones inside the venue. Not only would that help to create FOMO, it would ensure a safe dance space respectful of guest privacy.
There were two insights which guided the creative process:
Everyone still receives that handwritten card from their elderly relative even though it seems totally out of place in today's digital world;
The language used to describe Christmas to us when we are little ("naughty or nice," "sit on Santa's lap") takes on an entirely different (sexual) meaning when we become adults.
From these insights grew an event concept for a tongue-in-cheek, invite-only, adult holiday party (an "XXmas" party), that would toy with the contrast between wholesome/raunchy and old-fashioned/modern. Hand-crocheted "grandma-like" invitations were sent to guests that, when opened, revealed a QR code leading to a ticketing app. The copy was written in an ostensibly wholesome way but was riddled with sexual innuendos. On the app, seemingly innocent old-fashioned photos, when clicked, revealed vintage provocative images.
To bring the guaranteed sexy vibe to the party, guests were required to follow a sexy dress code (outfit inspiration mood board above). But one of the production challenges of this policy was how to verify guests were respecting the risqué dress code before letting them in when the event took place in mid-December. The answer was an un-dressing room / coat-check before entry.
We curated a talented team of go-go dancers, drag queens, and performance mixologists, paying special attention to making sure we had staff of all body types, races, genders and sexual orientations to make everyone feel truly welcome. Security was trained in sex-positive events to guarantee a safe, loving space. DJs from Paris and Amsterdam played an extended set: William Djoko b2b Bambounou.
The event sold out immediately and generated more than 4 waiting lists (we had to stop at 4). Advance ticket sales topped 3K, waitlist sales another 1.5K, and bar sales on the night 5K. Most importantly, Maison Balkii's "Studio B" was booked out solidly for private events in the 4 months following the event.