29Rooms Is Expanding Internationally Under New Partnership With IMG

The Refinery29 pop-up event is heading to Canada and Europe

The pop-up event will travel to 6 U.S. cities and 2 international ones within the next 18 months. Dianna McDougall for Adweek

29Rooms, the Instagram-friendly, advertising-supported traveling installation from Refinery29, is expanding internationally.

The digital media publisher secured a multiyear deal with IMG, an Endeavor company, to expand the pop-up event to include six cities in the United States and two international cities within the next 18 months, said Refinery29 co-founder and executive creative director Piera Gelardi.

The event had previously launched in New York and L.A. and was expanded to Chicago and San Fransisco last year.

Refinery29 will oversee the “creative innovation,” and IMG will take on execution, promotion, production and logistics, Gelardi said, declining to provide financial terms of the arrangement.

Jacob Smid, senior vice president in charge of music and touring events for IMG, said the company saw real “depth” to 29Rooms and what the event could offer an audience.

“What really appealed to us is a) the relationship that’s already there with the audience, b) the depth of the experience that Refinery has managed to build and c) the opportunity for us to help complement those two things,” Smid said.

The experience will still make stops in cities where it already has a presence, including L.A. and New York (possibly with a splashy entrance timed to New York Fashion Week, in which Endeavor has a significant presence) but will also embark on a tour that includes Canada and Europe, and potentially Australia and Asia.

When 29Rooms launched in 2015, it was intended to celebrate the brand’s 10-year anniversary and it was always a “dream” to expand the experience internationally, Gelardi said

“This partnership allows us to be able to make that dream a reality and bring the event to more cities,” she said.

Each of the rooms are usually designed around a particular theme. For example, getting out to vote was a popular theme at the fourth iteration of the series held in NYC in September.

The tours will likely still follow a particular theme, though it’s possible Gelardi said, that there will be multiple themes touring at once.

Of the 29 rooms, nine are set aside for advertisers. By taking the show on the road, Gelardi said there will be new opportunities for brands to get involved, including by participating in a particular city—or a touring theme.

Refinery29 has previously worked with brands including Planned Parenthood, ACLU, GLAAD and Aldo as well as artists including Lena Waithe, Kali Uchis, Rupi Kaur and Cleo Wade. Upcoming participating brands or partners were not shared. Gelardi also could not say whether ticket prices, which were $39.99 for general admission in September, would stay the same.

“It’s been a great opportunity for us to elevate diverse, creative voices and I think it’s been a big growth area for the company,” Gelardi said.

Refinery29 underwent a round of layoffs last October and this month, the majority of writers in the remaining 40-member editorial team voted to unionize with the Writers Guild of America, East.


@SaraJerde sara.jerde@adweek.com Sara Jerde is publishing editor at Adweek, where she covers traditional and digital publishers’ business models. She also oversees political coverage ahead of the 2020 election.
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