For those of you looking for something more from your Christmas campaign than a cynically tear-inducing clip of an old and lonely man completely disregarding the laws of physics, these Christmas experiential marketing campaigns are for you.
From a beer-dispensing Christmas tree to a bank made entirely from gingerbread, there is plenty to get inspired by here.
Carlsberg: beer Christmas tree
Carlsberg has been the undisputed king of experiential marketing in recent years, and clearly it wanted to live up to that title with its 2015 Christmas campaign.
Everyone remembers ‘the best poster in the world’, and what better way to follow it up than with a beer-dispensing Christmas tree?
That’s exactly what Carlsberg did, erecting a 27ft tree at London’s South Bank complete with beer bottle baubles and a pump for dispensing free lager and topped with an enormous beer hop.
The first 100 visitors also received a glass-blown ‘beerble’ that could be used to drink from.
Although presumably you’d want to put something other than Carlsberg inside it.
TGI Fridays: virtual dog sled ride
Virtual reality is becoming increasingly commonplace in our industry, and it naturally lends itself extremely well to experiential marketing.
TGI Fridays offered its customers the chance to go on a fully immersive and thoroughly festive 360-degree sled ride through Lapland via a virtual reality headset. And all without actually leaving their dining table.
The campaign was devised after the restaurant chain found 43% of Britons vote Lapland as their perfect Christmas holiday destination.
Pret A Manger: gift-wrapped store
Pret A Manger got tarred with the too-corporate brush when it opened a shop in Shoreditch earlier this year, so perhaps this campaign was partly designed to shake that image.
The coffee chain gift-wrapped one of its central London stores and invited customers to tear their way through the paper to get to a free Pret Christmas sandwich inside.
Not only that but it donated its marketing budget to promote five homelessness charities via its shop windows, product packaging and social media channels.
Not On The High Street: Gift-O-Matic
I actually stumbled upon this myself just after it opened and there was already a pretty big crowd gathering round.
Aimed at last-minute Christmas shoppers, the ‘Gift-O-Matic’ was essentially a Twitter-powered vending machine.
Passers-by were invited to tweet Not On The Highstreet with one of five hashtags, including #Foodie and #PetLover, in return for a free gift related to that personality type.
Passing through Waterloo or Paddington Station today? Stop by our Gift-O-Matic machine for a complimentary gift! pic.twitter.com/BZEIOKrgEw
— notonthehighstreet (@notonthehighst) December 21, 2015
Stella Artois: Under The Stars with John Legend
Putting to one side any feelings you might have about brands commissioning artists to write songs for them, this is one hell of a marketing campaign.
Stella Artois had John Legend write and record a song called ‘Under the Stars’, paying tribute to the beer brand’s name (‘Stella’ means ‘star’ in Latin).
Legend then performed the song in New York City beneath the ‘stars’, otherwise known as a purpose-built interactive light installation.
PNC: the gingerbread bank
To promote its Christmas Price Index, PNC Bank created a life-size bank branch out of gingerbread, in which customers could actually use an ATM or open a new account.
It took 5,000 pounds (roughly 2,267 kilos for our UK readers) of gingerbread and four days to build, following six months of planning.
Coca Cola: Christmas truck tour
Everyone’s favourite teeth-destructors received a bit of backlash this year from people who weren’t happy with them driving through their towns promoting unhealthy drinking habits.
But, love it or hate it, the Coca Cola Christmas ad remains a cause for excitement for many people leading up to the big day.
The Coca Cola Christmas Truck Tour 2015 began in Inverness and made its way down the country to its last stop in Leicester Square, London.
Members of the public can have their photo taken with the iconic lorry along each of its stops.
Cadbury’s: lorry advent calendar
The previously-not-rubbish-and-Kraft-owned chocolate brand decided to get experiential this Christmas by creating an advent calendar out of 24 Cadbury’s lorries and sending them off to 24 locations across the UK.
Much like a real advent calendar, each day – from the location to the contents of the truck – will be a surprise.
Cadbury’s reportedly spent £10m on this campaign, so it is clearly taking experiential marketing seriously.
Firebox: pop-up shop
If you haven’t heard of Firebox then you need to change that quickly. Although you’ve already missed your chance to order a pair of flatulence pants in time for Christmas.
Unless of course you happen to live near the Firebox pop-up shop in Newcastle.
The store showcases the products that reflect the Firebox slogan: ‘shop for the unusual’.
Asda: no Black Friday
This might seem like a strange addition to the list, but bear with me…
While not directly an experiential marketing campaign, Asda’s highly publicised decision not to partake in the chaos on November 27 did end up having a huge impact on the customer experience.
People knew they could go to Asda on Black Friday and experience a relatively normal shopping day, and this is something the supermarket will have taken into account when making its decision.
For that reason I think it qualifies as a form of experiential marketing, but feel free to put me wrong if you don’t agree.