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Stepping on to the global stage at World Square

Celebrating Lunar New Year

by SUZANNAH NICHOLSON, Senior Marketing Manager and JESS McANENEY, Marketing Manager World Square

With a culturally rich and diverse offering, both by day and by night, World Square is the place to come and experience the spectacle of everyday life that typifies Sydney. It’s a place where East meets West, a destination venue that is at the crossroads of global cultures, amid the hustle and bustle of Sydney’s southern CBD.

World Square has already welcomed shoppers, residents, city workers and international visitors on a journey, via a calendar of events and activations, that has elevated the everyday into memorable experiences.

Now, as part of a revitalisation program – driven by co-owners Arcadia and ISPT – World Square has introduced an enticing new program of special events, inspired by both the traditional Western calendar and authentic Eastern-inspired cultural and annual celebrations.

Encompassing an entire city block, bordered by Chinatown and the expanding Thaitown and Koreatown, World Square is home to a diverse and dynamic customer base that changes throughout the day, from dawn to dusk.

While it is always a challenge to elevate the everyday retail experience, World Square does so by activating events on a larger scale, interspersing an already thriving shopping strip with first-to-market technology, innovative concepts and events that have high impact.

A composite East-West calendar of events also offers innovation, authenticity and customer relevance which is at the core of World Square’s cultural DNA.

One of the Three (not so) Little Pig sculptures

Celebrating the Year of the Pig

Tourism is a key component of the success at World Square, influencing both a proactive approach to event design and strategy, plus making sure the venue is responsive to the ever-changing target customer. Taking into consideration the insatiable appetite of mainland Chinese consumers and nearby Asian nations, World Square has to deliver both authentic and culturally-sensitive activations and celebrations that are both inspired and relevant to this market, yet also embrace the existing local community.

One example is an elevated Lunar New Year campaign, introduced in 2018, which applied Augmented Reality (AR) technology never before seen on this scale in the Australian retail landscape. World Square won the Gold Award at the ICSC 2018 Asia-Pacific Shopping Centre Awards in the Integrated Digital Campaigns category for this campaign in addition to the SCCA Marketing Award in the Innovation (Medium) category. The award-winning activation consisted of a live AR experience on all three levels of World Square, experienced via immersive 360-degree technology, that brought to life the iconic Skin to Skin dragon sculpture with an interactive Red Packet Treasure Hunt.

The Treasure Hunt prompted shoppers to scan QR codes throughout the precinct, collecting digital red ‘lucky’ packets along the way. The Treasure Hunt embraced the popularity of gamification with a retail promotion that enabled visitors to convert their lucky red packet offer, saved in a digital wallet, into a retail spend via participating retailers.

The AR experience was further expanded in 2019 with the introduction of The Three (not so) Little Pig sculptures, an Associated Event for the City of Sydney’s Lunar Festival. Brought to life through AR, visitors were encouraged to dance with the 2.8 metre pigs via a big screen and then share their AR experience on social media. This was amplified by traditional Korean fan dance performances and the drawing of calligraphy, honouring the wider Chinese community.

Asian cultures celebrating Lunar New Year

As part of a bold and audacious approach to targeted marketing to Australian-born Chinese and mainland Chinese consumers, World Square has also invested in highly relevant social media channels such as WeChat. In February, World Square trended on Chinese microblogging site, Sina Weibo, when the ‘celebrity’ pigs were listed on Lunar New Year’s Eve as an ‘attraction’ in Sydney. The sculptures formed part of our ‘Always On’ positioning to capture visitation from our targeted tourist market throughout the rest of the year. The usage of both social media platforms has significantly bolstered the success of not only the individual campaigns but also World Square’s overall digital and social media presence in the international market.

World Square’s outdoor space is also key to how marketing campaigns come to life for our 27.74 million visitors annually. The traditional Lunar New Year Lion Dance and ‘Plucking of the Greens’ attendance, for example, rivals that of any Hollywood celebrity visit, and fills the Square to capacity. With this coveted level of engagement and visitation, Lunar New Year celebrations have become the biggest campaign event of the year for World Square.

Doing things differently

Who says you need actual cherry blossom trees to celebrate Japan’s iconic festival? World Square was able to bring its own Cherry Blossom Festival 2018 to life in Australia’s springtime, again with AR. Complemented by a two-week calendar of modern and traditional Japanese events, this exciting, new inaugural festival acknowledged that our Asian-influenced events are not just Chinese. Retailers were able to leverage the festival with bespoke Cherry Blossom-inspired food and drink, retailer products and tactical offers.

The latter part of 2018 also witnessed the introduction of the illuminated Christmas Bauble, another Associated Event of the City of Sydney, which encouraged people to share a selfie or Christmas moment. Live streaming of the lighting of the Martin Place Christmas Tree further strengthened World Square’s ties as a key CBD venue for the city’s major celebrations and a new way of creating Sydney’s shareable moments.

Connecting with the community

What better way to ring in the New Year and summer than with the vibrant and dazzling Sydney Festival? World Square was proud to be a major partner of the Festival, bringing the interactive art installation ‘Fly Me to the Moon’ to life in our outdoor Square. Curated by Sydney Festival director, Wesley Enoch, festival goers were able to collectively pedal the 384,400km required to get to the moon on a bank of stationary cycles, operating free of charge from 10am-8pm daily, during the event. This partnership brought a new family audience to World Square and was a significant drawcard for interstate and overseas visitors, in addition to the wider Sydney community.

Interactive art installation ‘Fly Me to the Moon’

Bolstering the robust calendar of culturally authentic events was the introduction of Moon Festival, the second biggest celebration in the Lunar calendar. These celebrations, which added to Golden Week, food festivals and night-time economy-focused activations, as well as Western seasonal events, all secured the broadest possible spectrum of visitation, which was a driver of retail sales and also provided consistent connectivity with our digitally-savvy audience.

Even the simplest of retail metrics show these activations and culturally-driven ‘experience economy’ events deliver significant and consistent increases in traffic throughout the year, plus a positive uplift in sales.

We are proud to offer these first-to-market experiences that resonate with the dynamic lifestyles lived by our global community. They embrace World Square as their favourite neighbourhood destination as we continue to expand our offerings.

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