NEW YORK—FX’s buzzy new limited series Impeachment: American Crime Story tells the story of President Bill Clinton’s impeachment—but this time through the eyes of the women at the center of the events: Monica Lewinsky, Linda Tripp and Paula Jones. That attempt to reframe the narrative was the basis for FX’s new “Room to Bloom” installations, which popped up in three areas of The High Line in New York from Sept. 6-7.
“We were looking for an opportunity to engage our audience around important themes, some of which were tied to a perspective that’s been gained since the [impeachment] unfolded,” explained Kenya Hardaway, the senior vice president of integrated promotions and multiplatform marketing at FX Networks (who was named a BizBash Innovator in 2018). “Focusing on the positive impact that could be made from the lessons learned, we created the ‘Room to Bloom’ activation to encourage the audience to see the series through that lens.”
Through a variety of prompts, the installations asked visitors to share obstacles, moments or mindsets that have been holding them back. In a symbolic gesture, these cards were then shredded and replaced with a seed card from Cute Root that had been custom-designed by the artist Debra Cartwright for the event. The seed cards contained messages about growth and could actually be planted to produce wildflowers.
FX created the event in partnership with Verb., an experiential marketing agency and consultancy that led on creative, design and production to execute the two-day installation. The florals set up at each station around the park were designed by Botanique, while HOOK Fabrication executed the activation build, and C2 Imaging and ABC Imaging were engaged for printing services.
Hardaway noted that the unique activation drew plenty of emotions from visitors over the two-day installation. “It was important for us to create an experience that went beyond the expected narrative for the show,” she said. “We wanted to connect with the public, to make them feel seen and valued. From the reactions we received, we felt that was definitely accomplished. From tears of joy and relief to hugs, celebratory clapping and high fives, we saw how important this opportunity was for people.”
The venue choice was also an important factor here, noted Hardaway. “The biggest challenge facing in-person activations is still making people feel comfortable enough to engage. As we looked to design a meaningful campaign aligned to the premiere of Impeachment: American Crime Story, we prioritized creating an event with an outdoor setting that connected with the themes of our creative,” she explained. “In this case, New York City’s High Line was the perfect venue to showcase the power of growth and of creating something new and beautiful from an unexpected source.”
Ultimately, Hardaway thinks this kind of human connection is key to creating a successful in-person brand activation right now. “Given what we’ve all been through recently, the public is craving connection. Our activation gave the public the opportunity to engage in a meaningful activity that will resonate beyond the event and perhaps have long-term impact,” she said. “Those are the kinds of activations that will cut through the clutter as we return to in-person events.”