If you’re a SXSW 2014 attendee in need of a power nap, FX has set up sleeping pods—or rejuvenation pods as the cable network is calling them—in a space in downtown Austin temporarily known as The Strain Transformation Station. Open March 7-10, the Transformation Station was created by the FX integrated promotions team and Van Wagner's Experiential Marketing Group to promote the FX original series The Strain—debuting in July, the thriller is based on Guillermo del Toro and Chuck Hogan’s best-selling trilogy of vampire novels and comics.
It isn’t always easy to get noticed at the annual conference given that the event is flooded with networks and brands vying for attention, so FX wanted to do something creative to promote The Strain, which premieres in July. Kenya Hardaway, vice president, integrated promotions at FX Networks and her team had taken notice of how popular sleeping pods have become and had been thinking about ways they could work them into an event or a stunt and realized that SXSW would be the perfect venue. "People at the convention are working long days, and partying at night," Hardaway says, "and this just seemed like a great place for us to give people a little place to rest that we could brand and use to bring them into The Strain environment."
Instead of renting, FX actually bought 10 sleeping pods, one of which is going straight back to her office when SXSW is over, Hardaway says. You can book appointments for 20-minute naps in advance at The Strain Pods, and for those of you concerned about hygiene (and, really, everyone should be!), Hardaway stresses that the pods are outfitted with disposable sheets.
As clean and comfortable as the sleeping pods are, Hardaway is hopeful that visitors to The Strain Transformation Station won’t spend the entire time snoozing. "In a perfect world, people wouldn’t necessarily sleep in the pod the entire time. I’d like for them to engage with the brand for a bit," she says.
With interaction in mind, FX has custom-fit each one with a Samsung tablet on which one can view a sneak peak of the premiere episode of The Strain television series, which casts Corey Stoll (last seen on House of Cards as congressman Peter Russo) as a doctor leading a team investigating a viral outbreak that is turning New Yorkers into vampires—if the show is anywhere near as terrifying as the novels and comic books, it should induce nightmares. Speaking at the Television Critics Association Press Tour last January, showrunner Carlton Cuse (Lost, Bates Motel) teased, "You will never look at vampires the same way. These are not sparkly, brooding dudes with fangs and romantic problems."
The Strain Transformation Station also includes a lounge area where visitors can down an energy drink dubbed The Strain Vaccine and pick up free copies of The Strain novels published by HarperCollins, and The Strain comic books from Dark Horse Comics.