I always say stores themselves are a form of media -- a billboard, of sorts. This is the case simply by nature of their presence and before one even walks inside. The actual experience inside a store also can be a brand advertisement (and, sometimes, not a very good one).
At the Brit + Co #CreateGood pop-up in Soho, worlds converge as the media company for women advertises its own platform, while bringing other brands to life inside its "5-day experience of all things good". Truth be told, #CreateGood uses these brands to round out Brit + Co IRL by providing visitors with sustenance and entertainment.
The pop-up is indeed an experience, and an immersive one at that. It's almost entirely branded, and not exclusively - or even primarily - by Brit + Co itself. Sponsors listed on the calendar/brochure include Sorel, Lyft, Disney, Talenti, Don Julio, and Tuft & Needle and I saw all of those represented. Sorel had a version of a co-created step-and-repeat, Lyft an old-school arcade area, Disney some guitar self-education, Talenti a gelato cart giving out free scoops, Don Julio a flowing bar (at 11 AM on a weekday, no less) and Tuft & Needle some huge bean bag chairs to offer respite from brand overload.
Brand discovery extended beyond big-name sponsors to freebies from KIND, La Croix, and Tattly to beauty services from a brand I don't recall (defeats the purpose, I know) to my personal favorite discovery, protein-infused coffee from REBBL, which distributed samples and coupons. Especially with the recent news that Whole Foods will cut back on smaller brands and brand-sponsored sampling, alternative approaches to food and beverage discovery need to surface.
In a less-branded and almost non-commercial way, the pop-up experience features stations for stationery-making and some type of yarn situation, and a Brit + Co-branded stage for the extensive calendar of event speakers (women who, of course, gained a platform to promote their own brands and businesses).
I don't think anything actually was for sale at #CreateGood. And it's hard to say how companies will measure their investment in having been present. (There were some options to download an app or submit an e-mail address for a giveaway, but one didn't need to take those actions.) Does that mean this shouldn't be called retail? Is this different from "showrooming" in a store where one actually could transact?
From my vantage point, this pop-up experience is the intersection of consumerism and community near its best. It was an intersection made possible by media and product discovery coming together as a common experience. It underscores the importance of offline discovery for everything from media to services to goods that already have international reach. The objective wasn't to get visitors to buy in the moment, and the point almost was that one couldn't. How great would retail be if more of it was like this?