Manhattan West is a developing community on New York City’s West Side, made up of state-of-the-art office spaces, restaurants and a food hall, retail spaces, pop-up experiences, an abundant plaza, high-rise living space and a boutique hotel. Most tenants at Manhattan West were set to open in September 2021, but one building was going to take years to complete. Instead of installing standard scaffolding that would likely deter visitors from stopping by, the project’s commissioners wanted to approach the inevitable eyesore in a more creative way. Enter Citrovia: a sprawling, fantastical citrus garden that features thousands of lemons, leaves, and trees in an immersive art installation.
The goal of the campaign was awareness of and foot traffic to Citrovia—the latter being difficult to measure, but truly apparent by the hundreds of Instagram photo and location tags we’ve received to date. We wanted to make a LOUD splash (and quickly) to end up on the itineraries of New Yorkers and post-COVID tourists looking to add something new to their NYC bucket list. With no paid media budget, we relied on word of mouth, so our organic tactics needed to reflect those of true social media users so they would replicate and share.
To launch on social media, we captured photos in our studio, and combined that with graphic design images for a fun, cohesive launch feed—all cross-promoted from the main Manhattan West account to boost reach. For Opening Day, we worked with five real influencers instead of models for our shoot, knowing that influencers could more authentically share the experience because they represent the target audience we were trying to reach. In our content, we promoted Citrovia’s AR experience in action, showed people where to take the best photos, and even posted in real-time as ambassadors took to the streets handing out lemon ices to generate more buzz.
The biggest challenge was figuring out how to tease the installation on social media prior to its launch. We couldn’t do an on-location shoot because the space was being worked on up until the day of the opening. How could we help people visualize a larger-than-life and stranger-than-fiction lemon garden in the heart of the Big Apple? And then get people to come visit when the rest of the tenants within the MW development are still under construction?
The success of the Citrovia launch was far beyond what we could have ever imagined. Because the influencers we worked with genuinely enjoyed being there, they shared photos and videos on their channels outside of the pre-planned, contracted content. We were featured in “Things to Do in NYC” TikToks, a trendy dance with viral TikTok dancers, and even a “Day in the Life of a Curvy Model in NYC” video. And that’s not to mention the press we received as well—from The New York Times to Architectural Digest. It was a beautiful convergence of the physical and the digital worlds.
As far as quantifiable results, we: