Our Firsthand Tour of 12 Brand Activations

We went back to school to walk the halls of “Abbott Elementary” at a “New Teacher DisOrientation” fan experience produced by Disney-owned ABC, which had a constant stream of attendees lining up to participate, ourselves included. While waiting, we noticed small details that enhanced the experience, like the intermittent sound of recess bells, a “Welcome Teachers” letter board and a mini school garden.

Upon entering the experience in a small group, we were welcomed to orientation and led through a series of rooms, each brimming with Easter eggs, nods to “Abbott Elementary” characters and a few irreverent touchpoints that were right on-brand, like a Wi-Fi password written on the whiteboard in Principal Ava’s office that read: “BadBitchesOnly.” 

The first phase of the activation included a hallway filled with detailed student lockers to explore, original fan art on display submitted via the official “Abbott Elementary” Fan Art Contest and a mysterious door adorned with plaques of various Boyz II Men lyrics (the series takes place in the band’s hometown of Philly—we laughed pretty hard at this one) that was equipped with a lever and buttons that fans were encouraged to play around with. Word has it that those who cracked the code earned a special surprise, but alas, our crew couldn’t hack it.

Next, we explored Principal Ava’s office, snapped pics in front of a branded backdrop and had our staff photo taken, which yielded a physical credential to take home. Then it was on to Janine’s classroom, a large, open-air footprint featuring kids’ artwork, a chalkboard, motivational posters, books, games, globes—you name it. The setup also included school desks topped with tablets, where we were encouraged to sit down and take a personality quiz to discover which “Abbott Elementary” character we most resembled. We then received a sticker with a cartoon image of the character, which a BA placed on a complimentary water bottle at the close of the experience. 

The classroom additionally offered a cause marketing moment, with a corner dedicated to helping real teachers in need through curated Scholastic
ClassroomsCount wish lists. One wall featured a colorful display of QR codes linking to the wish lists, while an adjacent “Send Love” wall invited attendees to write encouraging words to a curated list of teachers on postcards, which the brand took care of mailing. 

The final leg of the experience took place in a school gym environment that included a basketball court installation, risers and a large screen playing episodes from the series. Here, we encountered the impressive “Abbott Step” dance squad, who practiced their moves and interacted with attendees. The team put on formal dance performances at various intervals each day, intriguing more than a few Con-goers who could hear the choreographed stomps from outside the footprint.

We ultimately graduated with an Abbott Step duffle bag, water bottle, custom pins… and some of that bad bitch energy. (Agency: Creative Riff.)

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