Imagine a toy store that has every toy you can ever imagine.
Wait, let's back up.
Imagine you're an ad agency that had this idea to open a toy store for 9 days. Yes, that's a better starting point. We've teamed with Chicago Children's Museum to promote their new exhibit, Unboxed: Adventures in Cardboard. Unboxed invites kids to rediscover the joy of play. True, pure, unprogrammed, no-game-controller-required play.
It's a rich creative assignment, even if all you turn out are a couple print ads. It became richer when the idea you sell is to open a full-scale "toy store" that only sells cardboard boxes.
Mister Imagine's Toy Store opened on Saturday at 1371 N. Milwaukee Ave. in Chicago, to a huge crowd of excited, initially confused kids. To say it's been a labor of love for the staffs of both the agency and Chicago Children's Museum would be a severe understatement. When I visited the store on Friday, one of my coworkers said, "I don't want to go back to my real job..."
But that's the thing: This IS our real job. (At least, when we're doing our jobs right...) All we're doing is creating a great brand experience. It just so happens to come in the shape of a store.
I'm proud of my coworkers and our museum partners for tackling so many things they've never done before – from finding a landlord who can donate a store space to designing a store experience (and staffing it!) to creating a working photo booth and augmented reality experience kids love.
Lots of people will visit the store this week. Even more will tweet, post, hear, and see coverage – from community to local press to TV news. And videos will be released over the next few months, meaning the Unboxed promotion will last long after the store closes.
I hope you can visit Mister Imagine's Toy Store before it closes next Sunday. Even more, I hope you're inspired to see what a little imagination can do.