Our timelines are proof that festive pop-ups are the nation’s soft-spot, as everyone has the same (attempted) ice skating boomerangs or fondue pics. But as it all comes to an end, we can’t help thinking one question: has the focus for marketing over the holidays become more ‘crowd pleaser’ than creative execution? And, as the New Year is all about looking forward, what does this teach us for 2018?
Pop-ups will always be a winner, and we all love a themed cocktail, but competition shot up which made innovation hard. Après Ski Lodge’s took over London and companies pushed branding by personalising festive favourites: Monkey 47’s Winter Lodge replaced mulled drinks with hot gin cocktails – definitely my new new festive fave. But, is this an experience you will remember in a years’ time? To be memorable, experiences need to ‘wow’ and offer something consumers didn’t know they needed until now - and the way to do this is trend watching. 2017’s purchasing trends started to shift from ‘product hoarding’ to experience, and brands listened. Pop-up tepee cinemas and winter-themed games (sliders on a rooftop) hit London and time slots quickly sold out. Trend forecasting is key in any brand activity. But as experiential relies on this ‘oomph factor’, it’s pretty important to focus on for our future 2018 marketing.
Sometimes, however, you can give the strategy and research a miss (sort of). In a crowded market of adverts, pop-ups and branding, creative stunts grab attention because of their uniqueness; and it gives us all a chance to take some artsy Snapchats, so it’s a win/win. Topshop’s ‘White Christmas’ stunt, spraying false snow over Oxford Street, was founded on the knowledge that; a) we are all sad we don’t get snow, until it snows too much; and b) we all freak out at the first snowflake. Having courage to approach an over-populated season or market with a creative difference can be super rewarding: Topshop stood out over social media as a provider of fake snow, and didn’t become ‘just another in-store ski lodge’.
2017’s technology wave also made creativity very exciting: Christmas had a modern, tech-ie makeover which got us all pretty excited. Marketing and tech is a heavenly partnership, but as consumers adjust to fancy tech, the novelty of it wears off - so there needs to have brand purpose or it blends into the crowd. VR North Pole trips hit shopping centres and were an amazing break from shopping, but brands that integrated meaning were spoken about much more. Foot Locker gifted fans the chance to virtually unbox trainers before release and trial them with AR. Without much app purpose, they spoke directly to sneaker fans and made AR a feature to bring the campaign to life. Tech-ie marketing already follows this ‘golden rule’, but as technology keeps on innovating in 2018 it’s still important to keep in mind.