5 jolly good festive pop-up shops.

Insights, Inspiration

Scarily, the countdown to Christmas has begun, which means so should the planning for your brand’s magical holiday experiences. Here are some shining examples of festive pop-ups that rocked Christmas.

Cue the Boney M. Christmas (at least in the world of brand planning) is just around the corner. And while it’s always a time for big and bold branding, it’s never been more challenging for regular retail to compete with the Christmas-hat-wearing delivery guy who drops off online-purchased presents.

One tried-and-true method to make your customers get into the spirit of things, is to make them experience it. And for that, pop-up activations provide the perfect answer. Attention-grabbing, highly creative and visual in nature, pop-ups have the ability to make people stop, stare and engage.

So, our Christmas-in-July gift to you, is inspiration. These are five of our favourite festive pop-ups to help inspire you and the rest of the creative elves working on ways to grab attention and connect directly with your audience.

1. Choose Love Pop-up Shop

This festive season, refugees around the world will spend the holidays in difficult conditions living in tents and makeshift shelters. The Choose Love store makes it easy for people to pay it forward by allowing them to purchase life-changing provisions via its pop-up and online stores. Benefactors can choose to gift everything from winter gear and hot meals to mental support and legal advice, knowing that their donations will be delivered directly to those who need them most.

In contrast to the overspending on unwanted gifts that have become part and parcel of the holidays, we love how this idea taps into the true spirit of the season. Not only does the pop-up give its online store a real-world presence, it puts this good cause front and centre for all to see amid the festive shopping pandemonium. Heir sponsorship of the Carnaby Street decorations meant that anyone on Carnaby St couldn’t miss how to give a gift that truly matters.

2. LEGO Carousel of Creativity in Convent Garden

The Lego Carousel of Creativity in Covent Garden celebrates how kids reimagine the world spotlighting their imaginative festive creations among some of Lego’s own master-builder installations. Direct product purchases are made via the on-site shop while the rotating carousel exhibits five large-scale, brick-built characters: a firefighting dragon, a princess racing driver, and a festive cactus. These master builds are surrounded by displays of joy-inducing Lego creations shared by kids from across the UK.

For those not able to explore the festive carousel in person, Lego extended the experience to fans everywhere through an immersive 3D virtual tour. This goes to show how creative tech can elevate experiential marketing for even greater reach and impact.

3. A very Malibu Christmas

When it comes to winter in the northern hemisphere, Malibu – the popular coconut rum that conjures images of white-sand beaches and crystal-blue waters – is not exactly your go-to holiday tipple. To remedy this, Malibu launched a festive pop-up to bring the Caribbean sunshine to winter in the UK.

The ‘Very Malibu Christmas’ pop-up served up the holiday spirit with a life-sized ‘naughty or nice’ advent calendar, prizes including limited-edition merch from Malibu’s 90s-inspired festive fashion range and, naturally, a festive drinks menu that included the likes of watermelon snow-jitos and Malibu hot chocolate. Don’t mind if we do.

As an extension of Malibu’s #letthefunshine campaign, this is a great example of how pop-ups can disrupt traditional festive fayre. What could have been seen as off season for the brand was reframed as the perfect opportunity to hijack the holidays, keeping it top of mind, boosting sales and helping Malibu become people’s festive drink of choice.

4. American Express Winter World

As the trend of online shopping continues to soar, traditional bricks-and-mortar retailers are well and truly feeling the knock – especially over the festive trading period as people tend to avoid the crowds. In support of its merchants and to help drive footfall, American Express together with experiential-marketing hub, Covent Gardens, joined forces to deliver a magical winter world experience.

An immersive celebration of all things winter, shoppers could attend a snow-globe making workshop, enjoy an expert-guided, gift-wrapping tutorial, sip on festive refreshments at the snow bar or snap up the moment at its magical lights experience in between the Christmas shopping. Cardholders were also treated to special offers available from participating retailers, all in all making it a top destination for shopping and dining over the holidays. If one thing’s for certain, it’s that in-store retail has a bright future as long as brands continue to seek new and exciting ways to engage with customers.

5. Amazon Wish Workshop

The biggest online retailer in the world wanted an immersive bricks and mortar presence for the festive period, where consumers could get hands on with products, but with the convenience of online delivery. In the run up to December 25th, Amazon wanted to support its toy-focussed partners in Berlin and needed our help showcasing their extensive product ranges. Many kids these days ‘window shop’ on Amazon, adding their favourites to a Christmas wish list. Problem is, with so many toys to choose from, how can they be sure they’ve chosen ‘the one’ without experiencing it first?

So, we bought together Walt Disney, Hasbro, LEGO, Mattel, Ubisoft, Herding and Electronic Arts, and created the Amazon Wish Workshop – a magical pop-up home of toys. The festive pop-up featured a series of vibrant workshops themed and designed by each partner brand to delight with their respective toy ranges. The activation saw interactive workshops and product demos – another great benefit of pop-ups – that helped capture the imaginations of our littlest visitors and gave them the chance to really ‘try’ before the parents had to ‘buy’. It’s a great case for how physical pop-ups can be used to give online retail a physical presence and showcase products in a fun and immersive way.

Wrapping up…

The possibilities for pop-ups are huge. With the potential to reach out and grab attention in surprising situations, stir up brand buzz and create direct connections with your audience, pop-ups are the gift that keeps on giving. If you’d like to surprise and delight your audience this festive season, just pop us a message.

Author bio


With nearly 30 years of marketing experience, both client and agency side, I’ve acquired a rare perspective on brands and business: I believe you have to challenge things creatively if you want to grow sales. Consumer technology is reshaping our world, and it’s only the great brands that stay on the crest.