In the rings: Yahoo! fans out in Vancouver

The brand's Yaletown-based activation in Vancouver offers fun, interactive Games-themed features for fans - plus a partnership with the IOC for an official Flickr photostream.

VANCOUVER – Like an oasis in the desert, Yahoo!’s ‘Fancouver’ activation in Yaletown is everything you dream of while trudging around the city in search of Olympic-themed entertainment: free email, soothing lighting, places to sit and best of all, a cafe serving complimentary hot chocolate.

‘Fancouver’ is Yahoo!’s Olympic activation, and in addition to hot chocolate, it serves up a bevy of interactive goodies to hook in passersby.

‘We really wanted to activate across platforms,’ Barbara O’Connor, VP, global consumer marketing, Sunnyvale, CA-based Yahoo!, tells MiC on a walk-through of the venue. ‘It’s all about bringing interactivity down to the individual. We are coming to the fans in Vancouver, giving them a chance to really immerse themselves in the Games. It’s about giving people a safe, fun, family place to enjoy the Games with us.’

The venue has media impact from the street, with two interactive features built into its front windows. The first is an augmented reality game, in which passersby can activate a snowboarding game using an AR glyph card, and the second an ‘alternate reality’ in which a camera captures the viewers image, allows them to choose a theme and then adds fun, animated features depending on where and how they stand.

Inside, the space is spare but filled with large-scale interactive features. Backdrops allow people to take Games-themed ‘in-situ’ pictures, and then post them to a giant ‘YOU’ wall inside the venue and on the Vancouver 2010 Olympic photostream on Flickr (once permission has been granted).

The Flickr channel is a partnership with the IOC – one that O’Connor says is rare – that will see not only the ‘Fancouver’ photos profiled, but any other Vancouver 2010-related photos that are submitted as well, all of which can then be used by the IOC as official event photos.

Visitors can also grab a free hot chocolate and watch a live broadcast of a Yahoo! sports minute on the in-venue stage. Or they can simply mug for the Yahoo! sports page on the live webcam station, play a game on a Wii or check their email on an in-house computer. Yahoo! is also giving away a Wii every day during the Games for people who play an Olympic trivia contest.

The activation is complemented by an online contest at Yahoo!’s sports page, offering Canadian and US residents the chance to win a trip to the US Freestyle Skiing Championship at Squaw Valley, CA, in March, by sharing their favourite winter sports photos.