If you’re from the UK and you hear the words “Christmas advertising”, your brain will undoubtedly compile an amalgamation of cheery/cheesy Christmas songs and a portfolio of John Lewis ads – most likely with Excitable Edgar the dragon taking centre stage.
But in our era of digital disruption and technological innovative, the good old-fashioned TV ad isn’t always the best place to reach your target audience. Sometimes the best approach is to invest in an Instagram-worthy pop-up shop, get a little creative in-store with a series of workshops or events, or create an omni-channel offering that spans across physical and digital channels.
Here’s some of the best in-store retail campaigns we’ve seen dominate the headlines this festive season:
This Christmas, beauty retailer Boots launched a quirky ad campaign centred around its so-called ‘Build Your Own Bootique’ tool – which is half digital wishlist and half personalisable e-commerce shop.
Drawing inspiration off of gift-givers’ fears of choosing the right presents, the campaign gives shoppers the chance to create, share and curate shops to encapsulate a range of interests and trends such as fitness and veganism.
This campaign includes physical pop-ups in 359 stores and includes a range of themes such as The Sleep Boutique, The Love Boutique and The Tween Boutique, and melds the physical and digital experiences together by using QR codes for purchasing and product information.
Arts and crafts retailer, Hobbycraft, had huge success with its in-store events last year – and the creative brand seems to have done it again.
The 100 store retailer reported a like-for-like store sales increase of 7.1% over the six weeks leading to December 24, 2018, while online revenue climbed 28% – most of which can be attributed to its exciting array of Christmas events.
In regards to in-store events, Hobbycraft’s Head of Marketing, Joel Pickering, says:
“This year alone  we’ve driven 100,000 people into stores through this experiential form of marketing. It’s quite a new thing for Hobbycraft. We’ve always done the occasional workshop, but by giving customers a really clear overall plan of what’s happening each week, making it really easy to book online and come down to the store, it’s becoming a thing.”
This year the retailer has a range of exciting new workshops, from wreath making to Christmas cracker decorating.
Luxury brand Mulberry is projecting festive poems on to UK landmarks in an attempt to promote its seasonal gifting collection.
The #MulberryLights campaign launched excerpts of a festive poem from the first young people’s laureate for London, Caleb Femi, onto landmarks around the country. (The poem by Femi centred around embracing the festive period and included a film called “The season of light”.)
Mulberry customers will also be treated to carol singing, candle and wreath making workshops, and photo booths to create personalised greeting cards.
To coincide with its Christmas food campaign, which stars Paddy McGuinness, Emma Willis and a Welsh Primary School choir, M&S’s 2019 Christmas campaign set up a Christmas market and invited 125 customers to eat its Christmas range.
M&S’s food marketing boss, Sharry Crammond, says in-store activity is more important than anything else this year, and announced the continuation of its #MyMarksFave strategy, where staff wear badges with their favourite M&S food listed on them.
Although not technically Christmas themed, the cosmetics and beauty retailer, Glossier, has been showing Londoners what it’s made of with its new London-themed pop up this festive season.
In an exclusive with Vogue, the brand shared its mission to foster the connection with its highly engaged community of customers, both online and in-store, by viewing the city through “Glossier-coloured glasses.” Inspired by London’s traditional social clubs, the interactive pop up embraces British architecture and interiors, and has some unique elements intended to spark conversations between consumers (such as mirrors facing one another on a make-up stand).
Supermarket chain Sainsbury’s have opened a special Christmas restaurant for dogs. At the Hus Gallery near Regent Square, from 13 to 15 December, dogs will be treated to seasonal delights, including turkey, chicken, duck, carrots and sage, as well as mince pies for dogs, all from silver service style waiters, of course.
Guests will also be treated to a glass of bubbly and a sandwich, too, to ensure they don’t feel left out.
7. Tiffany & Co.
Jewellery and specialty retailer, Tiffany & Co, has launched a New York style ice skating rink in London’s Covent Garden.
The ice rink is set up on the East Piazza of Covent Garden and is centred around a 4ft-tall bottle of Tiffany & Co. perfume inside a snow globe – it includes a Central Park-inspired bridge, a lot of snow, big, bright, blue jewellery boxes and the ‘sparkling floral scent of Tiffany Eau de Parfum’.
Unless you’ve made the journey to London’s St Pancras as of late, you might be unaware of the 36-foot Eiffel Tower-styled installation dominating the station. The sparkling pink pantone festive installation by French luxury perfume and cosmetics house Lancôme is comprised of 1,500 bottles of the brand’s signature fragrance, La Vie Est Belle (all of which will be donated to charitable organisation Look Good Feel Better).
The installation is accompanied by a pop up shop that offers a variety of exclusive services, including bespoke illustrations on products and personalised calligraphy.
On Thursday December 12, Ikea will hosting a Christmas feast for shoppers, which includes a full buffet of Swedish classics – Swedish ham, salmon, potatoes, salads and crispbreads (and its world-famous meatballs, obviously).
The feast will be held in all Ikea stores around the UK and is in honour of Saint Lucia.
Coca-Cola is renowned worldwide for its ‘Holidays Are Coming’ ad campaigns, but this year’s campaign is even more immersive.
The soft drinks giant launched the Coca-Cola Christmas Truck Tour campaign earlier this month, which will stop off at 19 different locations. Partnering with the national homeless charity Crisis, the campaign also includes takeovers of digital screens and spaces in travel hubs, overtaking busses in London and decorating them with lights and lenticular visuals of Santa, and hosting Christmas karaoke at Piccadilly Lights.
An innovative alternative to the Twelve Days of Christmas, Lego have launched the Twelve Rebuilds of Christmas which is on display at the Savoy hotel in London.
Inspired by children’s ideas, the models include “a dragon-shaped Christmas tree”, “a princess rocket castle” and “carrots rabbit chasing”.
Lego’s senior brand relations manager for UK and Ireland, Nicola Morgan-Hulme, said: “Creativity is going to be an important 21st-century skill. So what we’re trying to do is to get kids to be really excited about building, get creative and make sure it stays on their radar.”
12. John Lewis
It wouldn’t be right to create a list of in-store Christmas campaigns without mentioning the all powerful John Lewis. This Christmas season the department store launched a number of holiday-themed workshops such as cooking classes, tips on Christmas tree styling and planning the perfect party outfit.
This is part of a wider initiative John Lewis is trialling called “experience playgrounds” – which offers everything from wine-tasting to make-up – and will be rolled out country-wide if successful.
As part of the trial, the John Lewis store in Southampton has been redesigned to offer a “customer-centric” experience, where visitors can attend workshops to learn new skills or put new products to the test. They are also offering courses through Waitrose Cookery School, which includes bread and pasta making as well as classes on pan-Asian cooking.
We’re seeing some truly amazing Christmas campaigns emerging this festive season. Congratulations to everyone involved, and we look forward to hearing how they perform!
For more information on creating powerful in-store experiences from an operational standpoint this Christmas, read our blog: