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Special Project

Special Project
From the 12th Annual Shorty Awards

POPSUGAR's Play/Ground

Finalist in Location-Based Experience


POPSUGAR’s annual Play/Ground tentpole returned to NYC’s Pier 94 for its second year on June 22 and 23, 2019. The objective was to create a safe, inclusive place for women to come together, learn, discover and be inspired to action across all facets of their lives. POPSUGAR designed Play/Ground, in partnership with Reedpop – a boutique group within Reed Exhibitions, as a powerful showcase for the brand, and a way for its legions of fans to discover brand partners in a powerful and meaningful way. Brand partners this year included Samsung, Wendy’s, Extra Refreshers, Calia by Carrie Underwood, among others. The festival brought together POPSUGAR’s huge community of fans, elevating the brand and further solidifying its dominance as a women’s lifestyle leader.

Strategy and Execution

This year’s creative mission was to “Power Your Happily Ever After.” Recognizing that all women are unique, we wanted to discard the antiquated storybook ideal and recognize that everyone’s happily ever after looks different. We sought to create an inclusive environment where mothers, daughters, sisters, entrepreneurs, fitness obsessed, beauty enthusiasts and everyone in between could share their passions and gain new ones. To do this, we built seven distinct villages: The Main Stage, Playground, Sugar Studios, Mall of the Future, Samsung Soul Space, Pop Shop and Beauty Carnival. Within those villages, four stages hosted 92 celebrities, CEOs, entrepreneurs, world-leading fitness instructors, nutritionists, meditation experts, actors, musicians and more. Also dotted throughout the villages were immersive activations for 22 brand partners --all coming together to create a literal AND figurative play/ground of experiences, ideas and inspiration. 

A-list headliners included Chrissy Teigen, Issa Rae, Mandy Moore, Camila Mendez, Amanda Seyfried and Milo Ventimiglia; fitness gurus Tone It Up; fashion entrepreneurs Jenna Lyons, Cynthia Rowley and Stacey Bendet; and New York’s very first performance of Broadway’s then up-and-coming musical, Jagged Little Pill.

From a retail perspective, we continued to expand and innovate with over 52 brands featured in our Pop Shop - featuring limited edition items and collaborations with brands including Aviator Nation, Under Armour, Kule, Casetify, S’Well Bottle, Cheree Berry Paper and FEED.

We announced the event on POPSUGAR’s O&O and social channels along with headlining talent. Subway and media ads, taxi tops, wild postings and billboards around NYC built buzz around the event, coupled with a robust PR campaign.


POPSUGAR Play/Ground is a tentpole franchise and a key driver in POPSUGAR’s revenue diversification strategy. More than just a digital publisher, POPSUGAR is building a powerhouse brand; Play/Ground, our largest event, is a key lever for generating brand heat as well as consumer and marketplace awareness. Play/Ground 2019 attracted more than 15,000 attendees paying entrance fees ranging from $55 for GA to $200 for VIP - an uptick in guests of more than 50% from year one; 70% of participants were millennials. The event enjoyed a 60% increase in brand sponsors with more than 200 brands, vendors, and activations. Play/Ground garnered over 230 media placements, 2.2 billion media impressions, $17 million media value and more than 18M social impressions. POPSUGAR Play/Ground has also created a halo effect on POPSUGAR’s overall experiential business, which represents more than 15 percent of total overall revenue.


Video for POPSUGAR's Play/Ground

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