Thursday,  September 19, 2019  6:56 pm

AC Rouge launches Instagrammable pop-up experience at Toronto's Eaton Centre

AC Rouge launches Instagrammable pop-up experience at Toronto's Eaton Centre
INSTAGRAM STARS. From left (of AC): Sean Turner, director, product marketing and Rouge Brand; Jacqueline Harkness, sr. director, sponsorships; Andy Shiabata, managing director, brand; Jamie Steiner, sr. manager, brand events; John Moody, sr. director, product design - cabin interior
Michael Pihach

Michael Pihach is an award-winning journalist with a keen interest in digital storytelling. In addition to PAX, Michael has also written for CBC Life, Ryerson University Magazine, IN Magazine, and Michael joins PAX after years of working at popular Canadian television shows, such as Steven and Chris, The Goods and The Marilyn Denis Show.

Visitors to the Eaton Centre this month will get a taste of the Air Canada Rouge experience before arriving at the airport through an immersive and photo-ready pop-up opening today (May 24th).

The playful installation, which PAX got to experience first-hand last night at a media preview, is about “telling the Rouge story” as there’s still “a lot of misconceptions around Rouge in the marketplace,” Andy Shibata, managing director, brand at Air Canada told PAX.

“When [Rouge] launched six years ago, it was under a certain context, whether that be low-cost, travel leisure or vacation,” Shibata said. “People had a different understanding of what it represented.”

Shibata says the pop-up at the Eaton Centre is about presenting “unique touch points” that consumers may or may not know while telling Rouge’s story “in a bigger way.”Inside Air Canada Rouge's pop-up experience, which opened today at Toronto's Eaton Centre mall. Highlights of that story include:

  • Rouge’s wide economy seats (“the widest economy seats of any Canadian leisure airline,” the airline states). This includes upgradable Preferred Seats and Premium Rouge seats.
  • It’s newly-expanded selection of TV and movie releases, which passengers can stream directly to their smart devices.
  • Healthy meal options available through Rouge’s new partnership with Freshii.
  • Enhanced high-speed WiFi, which lets passengers can stay connected throughout their flight.
  • An expanded network of international destinations (such as Bucharest and Budapest).

The pop-up presents all of these points in fun, engaging (and very Instagrammable) ways.

One of the attractions, for example, features two Rouge seats elevated on Games of Thrones-inspired iron throne, whereby visitors can sit and pose for pictures.

Another room features an Oscars-worthy red carpet with blinking lights representing the flashing bulbs of paparazzi, a nod to Rouge’s in-flight entertainment options. Here, visitors can re-create their very own Hollywood movie premiere.

A futuristic WiFi hallway, Freshii snack bar and ball pit can also be found within the space, which will give visitors opportunities to win prizes (such as free flights) using the hashtag #flyrougecontest. 

STAYING CONNECTED. A glimpse into the pop-ups futuristic WiFi hallway, which draws attention to Rouge's in-flight connectivity.

“From a brand point of view, it’s something different,” Shibata said of the space, which can be found in a former retail space just past the Queen Street entrance of the Eaton Centre. “It’s something you wouldn’t expect from an airline in a retail environment.”

Is Air Canada promoting “a new Rouge” altogether? Not exactly.

Shibata said the campaign is about encouraging people to “try Rouge again for the first time.”

“We’ve been constantly evolving,” Shibata told PAX. “It’s not a new Rouge. [Rather], a current state of Rouge that we’re so proud of but haven’t communicated broadly.”

“We’re having a lot of fun with our brand [and want] to put it in a light [people] haven’t seen before,” he said. 

Air Canada’s Rouge’s pop-up will operate in Toronto’s Eaton Centre until June 2nd.