Brands of the future: marketers light up Vivid Sydney after a two-year hiatus

Vivid Sydney is one of NSW's most significant tourist events, attracting more than 2.4 million visitors to get out and about in the city during its last event in 2019. With so many eyes on the festival of lights, Mumbrella's Kalila Welch took a look at why Vivid has become the perfect branding opportunity for premium brands who seek to absorb some of the event's magic.

Vivid Sydney has returned its shining lights to the NSW state capital city after a two year COVID enforced hiatus and so too have the bevy of branded moments and partnerships that help make the event possible.

Despite the festivals cancellation in 2020 and 2021, the event has only grown in momentum after a record breaking year in 2019, reportedly attracting 435,000 attendees during its first weekend, according to NSW Tourism Minister Stuart Ayres.

With so many brands keen to feel the warmth of Vivid Sydney’s light – or more, the excitement and brand salience the event offers – I took a look at what makes Vivid such a sought after brand opportunity for marketers.

American Express

Vivid Sydney has long boasted a sizeable team of luxury brand event sponsors and partners, including major sponsor American Express (AMEX) which has joined the festival for the fourth time. The event makes sense for AMEX, which was the highest ranking premium brand in Australia, according to recent research from Roy Morgan, and was also  named as the principal partner for fellow iconic Sydney event, Mardi Gras.

AMEX’ Vivid Sydney activation is the American Express Light Lounge, hosted by the brand at the Cruise Bar Rooftop in Circular Quay. The lounge is an exclusive offering for AMEX customers, who are also treated to a complimentary beverage on arrival, between 5:30 and 8:00pm, before opening up to the broader public later in the evening.

Speaking on why AMEX chooses to partner with Vivid, American Express vice president of brand and member experience, Naysla Edwards said: “Vivid Sydney 2022 is only possible through the strong backing, partnership and support of an amazing group of businesses and industries and American Express is proud to be one of them.

The American Express Light Lounge is located at the Cruise Bar Rooftop on Level 3 at the Overseas Passenger Terminal in Circular Quay

After a two years hiatus for the event, Edwards said that it had been a “real highlight coming on as a major partner again this year”, noting that AMEX was “thrilled to be providing visitors to the American Express Light Lounge with an elevated Vivid experience”.

“What our Card Members and visitors love most about the Amex Light Lounge are the breathtaking uninterrupted views of Circular Quay and the Sydney Opera House. We think our lounge offers the best seats in the house to take-in Vivid, as well as the perfect place to enjoy live music and great food,” added Edwards.

AMEX is joined by other major sponsors, Bombay Saphire, Kia and Squarespace, with other supporting partners including Commonwealth Bank, Crown Sydney, Dell and Paramount+, in addition to a large number of collaborators and venues.

Kia Australia

This year Kia has committed fully to the branded sparkle of Vivid’s festivals of lights, with two installations celebrating the motor company’s inaugural partnership with Vivid Sydney and their shared passion for creative future technologies and innovation.

Speaking as to why the festival is the right fit for the brand, Kia events and partnerships manager, Melissa Gray, said: “Kia is a mobility brand with a vision to create sustainable mobility solutions around the world. Our commitment to providing exciting, cutting-edge products and services is really the catalyst behind our inaugural partnership with Vivid Sydney.”

“Our brand ethos of “Movement That Inspires” plus our focus on creative future technologies and innovation is a vision shared by Vivid Sydney. Our bespoke and visually immersive installations along the light walk embody this focus through a Vivid lens.” added Gray.

Located at Circular Quay, near the light rail stop, the first of Kia’s Vivid installations, Kia-Morphia, features a kinetic 3D display that leverages digital video technology to create an anamorphic optical illusion. The design was created in partnership with Bastion Experience, with the aim of reflecting Kia’s commitment to sustainability and transition to meet evolving customer mobility needs.

According to Bastion Experience client services director, Bridget O’Sullivan, the concept behind the installation evolved from a visual moment created by Kia as part of the 2021 Australian Open.

“We worked with the Kia team to evolve the creative from The Australian Open 2021 to Vivid 2023, drawing inspiration from some of the marketing trends (namely, Anamorphic Digital Advertising) we are seeing around the world. We are seeing brands look at new technologically advanced ways to grab the attention of people, in this case engaging with 3D artists to create bespoke animations that generate eye-catching impact and spur organic social coverage and that Vivid is just the platform/place to do this at in Australia. We love working with Kia to push new boundaries in the experiential space.

Gray added: “We were fortunate that we were able to evolve the original Kia-Morphia activation piece to yet another epic rendition, all the while ensuring an agnostic fit with what both we and Vivid were wanting to achieve from the 2022 event.”

A second installation, Kia-Aura, is positioned in Darling Harbour as part of the light walk, elevated on a bed of 250 aluminum rods choreographed to light up in a wave-like motion below the brand’s new electric vehicle the Kia EV6. The installation is designed to be an immersive representation of Kia’s brand ethos ‘movement that inspires’. The light display also takes inspiration from Australia’s natural southern lights phenomenon, Aurora Australia.


Paramount+ kicked off its Vivid celebrations on the Sunday night of the festival’s opening weekend with a light display composed of 600 drones, penned by the streaming service to be the biggest ever drone and light display in the Southern Hemisphere.

The fleet of LED-equipped drones were choreographed to create a number of 3D images and sequences, including the Paramount+ logo and a number of the streaming service’s best known television and movie characters and scenes.

Amongst the display was the logo for the highly anticipated local production slated by Paramount+ for 2023, NCIS: Sydney. The first-ever international series in the NCIS franchise, set to launch on Network 10 and Paramount+ in Australia and Paramount+ internationally.

Other notable installations and activations to feature in the festival include major sponsor Bombay Sapphire took a similar approach to AMEX, partnering with Vivid for the first time to deliver bar and dining experience, the House of Bombay Bar at Darling Quarter.

Dell is another first time sponsor of the event, having collaborated with proud Gadigal street artist JESWRI  and illustrator Andrew Archer to bring the Dell Youniverse to life. The immersive exhibit celebrates the Dell XPS range, giving insights into the artists’ processes through an Augmented Reality Gallery that gives visitors the choice of two different ‘Youniverse’ paths.  

Google Creative also partnered up with the Sydney Opera House with Magabala Books to create Indigenous-led multimodal project TRACES, which fuses generative art, projection, spoken word and interactive audio-to-visual technology. The installation was open for the first weekend of Vivid, featuring poetry and spoken word performances from Indigenous artists.


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