That magical time of year is almost upon us once again. Christmas.
It’s a time to eat, drink and be merry. Of course there are gifts too, but the festive season is a time to look back on the year that’s been and to be thankful.
It’s always an emotional time, and every year brands look to tap into the magic. Few manage to do so, but we have seen some incredible experiential marketing campaigns that play perfectly into this special time of year. Here are five of the very best.
1. WestJet delivers Christmas wishes aplenty
Miracles do happen, when we all work as one. That’s the message at the heart of WestJet’s memorable ‘Christmas Miracle’ campaign, which saw a vast team of WestJet volunteers, spread across three airports, deliver festive surprises to more than 250 travelers in Canada.
A live video link featuring Santa himself asked flyers what they would like for Christmas as they waited to board. Requests came in all shapes and sizes – from a giant TV to fresh socks.
When these same passengers went to collect their baggage at the end of the flight, they were shocked to find the very gifts that they had mentioned in passing mere hours earlier appear on a festive carousel!
It’s a terrific experiential effort from the airline, which carried out some incredible last-minute shopping to make Christmas wishes come true, and to deliver an unforgettable brand experience for all involved.
Even the guy who asked for socks.
2. A snow-powered white Christmas from Coke
We all want a white Christmas. There’s just something so magical and quintessentially festive about the white stuff, but not everyone gets a chance to experience a snow-covered landscape up close.
Coca-Cola came up with a very innovative way to allow the people of Lapland to share the magic of a white Christmas with natives in hot, tropical Singapore.
Coke set up a live feed between the two countries, allowing people in Finland and Singapore to see one another and communicate in real-time. But if the experience of seeing a snowy scene in the midst of scorching heat wasn’t surreal enough, Coke added a special twist.
Locals in Lapland were encouraged to scoop up snow and shovel it into the festive machine – prompting flurries of snowflakes to emerge from the matching machine in central Singapore! Nobody does Christmas quite like Coke.
3. KLM’s activation unites worldwide strangers
KLM Royal Dutch Airways cleverly spotted an opportunity over the holiday season when they created an experiential campaign that targeted lonely travellers. The airline took to Amsterdam Airport Schiphol and provided lonesome globetrotters with a ‘Bonding Buffet’. It filled a large round table with delicious Christmas dinner and offered it all for free. Sounds perfect, right? It wasn’t quite that simple.
The table was elevated 4.5 metres in the air and in order to get the table to lower, the 20 stools around it had to be filled.
Passersby looked confused and reluctant to join in at first, feeling more comfortable sticking to their books or phones. But, when they clocked on to what was happening, they jumped at the opportunity to be part of the action.
Before long, people from around the world were working together to successfully lower the table and dig in to the feast on offer. Any negativity around festive travelling was transformed thanks to KLM’s immersive activation.
4. Air Canada brings people home for Christmas
The Maple Leaf pub in London is where Canadians gather for a taste of home. Many are unable to make the journey back for the holidays for financial reasons. Air Canada couldn’t let a little thing like that stand in the way of a good story.
Representatives from the airline spoke with drinkers in the pub in the run up to Christmas to find out their plans for the festive season. They then had a very special announcement to make.
Because it was the holidays, Air Canada wanted to offer everyone present a round. But they didn’t mean a round of drinks. Oh no. Rather, the airline offered up round-trip tickets for everyone to go back to Canada for the holidays.
The generous gesture prompted emotional outpourings from many of those lucky enough to have chosen to be in The Maple Leaf on that particular evening.
5. IKEA proves what children really want
It’s been more than 20 years since Mariah Carey first won us over with her festive belter ‘All I Want For Christmas Is You,’ but the message is as true today as ever before. Just ask IKEA.
The Scandinavian furniture chain asked a group of young children in Spain to jot down their festive gift wishes in letters to the Three Kings. But they also asked the youngsters to each write a second letter – to their parents.
Reading the letters aloud with tears in their eyes, one theme quickly emerged: time. The children wanted to spend more time with their parents. Playing soccer. Being tickled. Having dinner together.
While we all frantically search for the perfect present to put under the Christmas tree, IKEA’s moving campaign serves as a humbling reminder that sometimes the greatest gift that we can give to others at this time of year is ourselves.
Want more cold weather activations?
If you're inspired by these Christmas campaigns, check out our eBook which looks at the top 10 most powerful winter brand experiences. Looking for even more inspiration? Sign up for our next live, digital and virtual experiences masterclass.
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.