Four Ways to Build a Beach Activation Without Getting Burned

Summertime and the livin’ is easy… if you know the ins and outs of building a beach activation. Branded beach experiences are an effective way to reach consumers when their hair is down, whether it’s families on summer vacation or college kids on spring break. The key is to offer an experience that entices consumers away from their everyday beach activities long enough to find out who your brand is—and why they should care. CPG brands sampling cold beverages naturally do well in this space, but any company with a well-thought-out strategy and understanding of its target has the ability to thrive. Here’s a look at four ways to start up beach activations without getting burned.

Make it Active

In addition to sunbathers, the beach tends to attract an active crowd, providing the perfect platform for fitness-themed beach activations. Michelob Ultra leverages the strategy at the Vans US Open of Surfing in Huntington Beach, CA. The brand’s sponsorship activation entails free surfboard yoga lessons on movable boards that teach participants how to maintain balance and utilize stretching techniques. The experience also offers consumers a chance to win a surfboard, a photo op in front of gold surfboards and a VIP Michelob Ultra Pure Gold Surf Deck offering prime views of the surfing competition, which attendees can enjoy after they complete their own workout.

Cool Them Down

Engaging consumers by sampling a cold food or beverage product in an inherently hot environment is a no-brainer when it comes to beach activations. That’s why Trolli teams up with 7-Eleven to cool down Spring Breakers with the Weirdly Slothsome Slurpee Truck Tour. Stopping at hot spring break destinations like South Padre Island and Daytona Beach, Trolli doles out free, ice-cold samples of its co-created pineapple lime Slurpee product with custom straws as takeaways. While consumers chill out with their Slurpees, they can also get temporary tattoos and play outdoor games. The strategy is simple but solves a common pain point. Now that’s cool.

Work on Your Night Moves

Beach activations don’t have to be reserved for daytime. Evening experiences on the shore offer built-in ambience while setting a casual tone. At the South Beach Wine & Food Festival in Florida, Bacardi produces a nighttime carnival on the beach hosted by celebrity chef Andrew Zimmern. The event features all the trappings of a typical carnival, including fire-eaters, jugglers, circus conductors, and costumed dancers—right on the sand. There are also classic games to participate in, like ping-pong and Skee-ball, as well as a DJ and, of course, plenty of places to snag a Bacardi cocktail. Even the food is an elevated version of carnival fare, with items like Butternut Nachos and hand-battered corn dogs on the menu.

Entice the Influencers

For brands that rely heavily on influencers, treating those partners to beach getaways is an effective tactic for beach activations that generate brand buzz—and it’s typically an offer they can’t refuse. Retail brand Revolve, which works closely with a range of fashion and lifestyle personalities, takes the approach to engage 75 influencers on a two-week vacation dubbed #RevolveSummer. And we’re not talking about the local beach—the brand transports its partners to the crystal-blue waters of Bermuda at a resort that has recently undergone $25 million in renovations. The idea is to “further inspire their global customers and followers with sophisticated, trend-focused fashion set amongst the serene and secluded island life of Bermuda.”

Here are influencer-worthy activities at the beach activation: a beach cave that is transformed into a chic nightclub, boat “raft-up” parties, meals at local beachside restaurants, beach photo ops including heart-shaped floral arrangements and a pink lifeguard tower that doubles as a DJ booth, pool parties, evening soirees in the sand, floating pontoons that served as fashion photo props and yacht outings. Life’s a beach, indeed.

Every activation environment has its perks. So why go for beach activations? The beach is where people go to loosen their ties and have some fun, and that generally means they’re more open to new experiences—including from brands. For event marketers willing to engage those consumers where they are, the world is their, well, oyster.

brand activations and sponsorships designed and produced by Sparks.

Posted by Dyan Cornacchio | Request as a Speaker

Social media and creative writing connoisseur. Obsessed with my golden retriever, pop culture, and pizza. Nothing makes me happier than being home on LI, relaxing at the beach with my family.