connectFirst Credit Union is not your parents’ credit union. So when it came to bringing connectFirst into their local community at Sled Island, the eclectic arts and music festival that brings over 30,000 fans together in Calgary every summer, there was a perfect opportunity to connect organically with festival-goers in the brand’s ideal market.
When we first partnered with connectFirst at Sled Island in 2022, we solved the need for food that would add to the festival experience, not remove you from it, creating our now-iconic pizza ATM. The reviews were rave, and we knew we’d hit a sweet (or perhaps salty) spot with the community.
This year, we anticipated past festival attendees taking on the role of excited brand ambassadors and bringing friends along to share in the experience. To continue building the brand story and engage with the community in an impactful way, we made a plan that would turn last year's activation on its head.
We designed and built The DeLorean Lounge in downtown Calgary’s #1 Legion, the hotspot for live bands at Sled Island. Named for the iconic time-travelling car, the lounge took guests back to the future with throwback physical and digital decor brought to life by moody retro lighting by Orange Frog Productions.
We built up the reveal by designing a dramatically-lit tunnel leading up to the lounge to disguise what was around the next corner. When folks arrived at the ATMs, their faux connectFirst card acted as an all-access pass, swinging the ATM open to reveal an entrance to the speakeasy-style bar-cade.
The bar-cade acted as a space where guests could unwind, grab a bite and socialize without leaving the festival atmosphere. The retro lounge featured a customized Grab-A-Tron claw machine filled with festival swag, pool tables, loads of room to hang out, throwback beats by local CJSW RADIO DJs, and of course, ice-cold drinks. We opted for a lineup of local beers (can’t mess with a festival classic) and introduced the crowd to Calgary's own DandyPop as a tasty non-alcoholic option. Of course, we also brought pizza, creating the Miami Slice pizza hub so guests could enjoy that tasty slice they had been looking forward to.
With creative partner Daughter Creative, branding was depicted across the ATM card, clothing, and design elements. Digital signage brought the DeLorean and Miami Slice brands to life with bold colour and motion. The juxtaposition of the retro DeLorean brand and the modern connectFirst brand immersed guests in a fun and in-your-face live experience that felt like a true blast from the past.
connectFirst is now two years into re-introducing themselves to Calgary, a vital moment for smart branding decisions. In our post-event survey, when we asked, “How did you connect with connectFirst?” a resounding 90% of the respondents raved about the pizza ATMs. Just as the brand has turned the idea of community and credit unions on its head, this activation took the familiar and spun it into something even better. As a result, we created strong brand recall by authentically immersing connectFirst in its community in a way festival attendees now look forward to year after year.
Photos and videos by Sebastian Buzzalino.