Popping up with something new at Schiphol

It’s rare to see an airport activation or promotion that involves airport company and brand owner working in partnership with advertising, retail and food & beverage concessionaires. So when one comes along we do our best to go and see it.

That’s what we did last week when we took a trip to Amsterdam Airport Schiphol, to visit the airport’s first-ever pop-up bar and retail store, plus a host of associated activity, all around Bacardí rum.

The drive behind the idea came from Bacardi and Schiphol Media, which manages advertising and promotional spaces across the airport. The partners wanted to create a memorable zone and an experience around the Oakheart spiced rum line extension. For the brand, it was key to get young adult leisure travellers to try the brand – ‘liquid to lips’ – and to sell some volume, while the airport media company wanted to underline Amsterdam’s growing reputation as a location where brand owners can create striking, short-run promotions that are not easy to execute elsewhere.

Notably, airport-owned Schiphol Media retains certain key spaces that it can lease on a short-term basis, rather than fixing long-term deals that traditional concessionaires often strike with brands, which offer guaranteed financial returns but little flexibility to introduce new ideas.

At Schiphol, a prime space between piers B and C (Schengen zone) was open, and the airport company then involved Schiphol Airport Retail (SAR) and leading F&B concessionaire HMSHost. SAR operates the retail element of the Bacardí OakHeart bar, while the bar itself is managed by HMSHost, with each company working off separate tills.

The result: an engaging, fun area that is attracting good numbers of mainly young adult men on departure or in transit to have a drink of ‘Oak & Coke’ and buy a bottle. Because free liquor sampling is not allowed at Schiphol, there is a €5 charge, but it’s still a fair bit lower than the prices in the airport’s other bars for alcoholic mixed drinks.

It’s also added around +10% to Bacardí sales in Lounge 1, location of the bar – and the airport company says that these sales are incremental, and don’t cannibalise those of the SAR store. The entire airport-wide activation (not only around OakHeart but the full Bacardi range) has helped Bacardi become the number two spirits brand (after Johnnie Walker) during the promotional period since the start of July, and the number one brand in Lounges 1 and 2, where its activity is greatest.

Already, other brands have shown interest in creating their own versions of the bar, while Bacardi is sure to be back for a repeat next year.

We liked it too: it adds something different to the departures/transit zone in Lounge 1, and the beach-style bar fits the Summer passenger profile well. It could be even more striking, and engage passengers with bigger, bolder signage as they approach. And a location in the centre of the Lounge 1 concourse (rather than on the way to gates) would sharply increase visitor numbers, we think. But as Schiphol’s debut pop-up store, it’s well executed, and gives the airport an idea that it’s sure to run with for years to come.


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