Casa Ferrari, A Pop-up Gas Station In Carmel-By-The Sea
The iconic Italian Supercar maker looked to engage the public with Casa Ferrari, a pop-up marketing activation during Monterey Car Week.
Casa Ferrari, the gas station, was not a “me-too” activation.
It was designed to bolster the luxury Supercar maker’s presence on the Monterey Peninsula as it hosted, over the course of 4 days, more than 750 vintage, classic and modern Ferraris along with about 3,500 guests.
The site is actually a Shell station at the Carmel Highlands General Store, located about 10 miles south of Monterey, it has been a landmark for 50 yrs.
“This whole event weekend was becoming a ‘showroom on a green,’ and that to me was a turnoff,” said Greg Adams, Ferrari North America’s director of marketing and brand experience, alluding to other luxury brands that hosted guests at comparatively cookie-cutter villas and estates either on the water or up in the hills. “I think more and more people, inclusive of some of the venues themselves and how they conduct their events, will need to be moving to a more integrated experience where you remember the values of why said event was such a success.”
To bring Casa Ferrari to life, Mr. Adams tapped his longtime production partner, the New Jersey-based company Dimensional Communications, the display firm that handles all the builds for Ferrari’s presence at auto shows and events. Toronto-based GMR Marketing, which works on the North American Ferrari Challenge races, oversaw the running of the activation and personnel management.
“The goal was to make the activation more physical versus virtual in this day and age of digital experiences, particularly with Ferrari, which is all about getting behind the wheel, getting the sensation, the smell, the feel,” Mr. Adams said. “The experience is much more important.”
The gas station owner is a Ferrari owner. So, after the agreement was made, the pop-up plans were refined just after the 60th anni Celebration in Beverly Hills, CA.
The result: Casa Ferrari, which was open from 12 to 16 from August, an instantly recognizable setting inspired by the legendary Enzo Ferrari’s home base beside the Fiorano racetrack in Maranello, Italy.
Ferrari, in partnership with Shell, dressed the General Store’s public gift shop to look like an Italian villa and installed a garden area where Italians served authentic Italian treats.
The world’s most recognizable brand used the occasion for the North American debut of its new twin-turbo V8, 488 GTB.
With the opening of the pop-up, Mr. Adams pulled back on other activation’s to maximize his budget.
For example, Ferrari did not have a corporate presence at vintage auto show The Quail and opted to focus on the Casa Ferrari experience.
“We asked ourselves, ‘How can we make it more an event where the attention is drawn to Ferrari and not be another participant?’” said Mr. Adams. “To make it an experience, we had to, for budget reasons as well, give up on some of the multitude of display events we normally participate in and bring it all together in one area which was Casa Ferrari.”
Mr. Adams took those 5 separate display events and consolidated them into the Casa Ferrari location, ”which meant we had Ferrari staff there, agency support there, and dealers there … so it all added to the overall experience of being arm’s-length distance from Ferrari people.”
Between the public and private areas, around 3,500 people visited Casa Ferrari, representing a 30 percent increase over initial estimates, said Adams. Ironically, because the gas station remained a public space, any driver in any vehicle could, technically, pull up to buy gas (and a handful did).
Mr. Adams noted there were Key major local issues: parking/traffic flow and client flow management.
“This is where we worked closely with the Shell gas station owner and the County of Monterey,” said Mr. Adams. “Once they saw how simple the plan would be, the permitting went through smoothly.”
The traffic posed an issue, so the California Highway Patrol was stationed alongside the road. The local fire department directly behind Casa Ferrari also cooperated, allowing production teams to set up on a portion of its space.
“The city and county really came through for us, and I think in the end they were pleased that they could do something like that and mitigate any potential problems,” said Mr. Adams.
By opening the pop-up early, Ferrari was able to accommodate and host its upper echelon VIP clients in a more intimate way before the public arrived in Monterey. “It was 1+1=3 all the way through,” said Mr. Adams. “In the end, we do it to maintain or raise the level of customer satisfaction for our clients.” He went on to say it is a real possibility that Casa Ferrari will return to Carmel-By-The-Sea for next year’s Monterey Car Week.
“There’s always the notion that whatever we do, we want to improve upon,” said Mr. Adams. “We do not want to look back so much as we want to take something and make sure the next iteration is somewhat better, so that’s the challenge to us.”
Ferrari is a unit of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV (NYSE:FCAU). The company is preparing it IPO on the NYSE in October of this year.