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Innovative digital campaigns from the festive season

20 Dec, 13 | by Claire Bower, Digital Comms Manager, @clairebower

TV ads, with their emotive stories and soundtracks, tend to get the most attention in the run-up to Christmas. However, online sales figures show that digital now plays a significant part in seasonal campaigns. And not only in selling, but in promoting and monitoring a campaign too.

YouTube views and social buzz can be a good indicator of how a campaign is doing. With so many consumers now multi-screening (whether stacking or meshing), TV and online are more closely related than ever. The best seasonal advertising campaigns are therefore those that are cross-platform, with online, email marketing and social offering a brand experience that seamlessly blends with and compliments an offline campaign.

Here are some of the best performing and technically advanced campaigns from the past few years.

OfficeMax: Elf Yourself

Since 2006, half a billion people have “elfed” themselves. What began as a funny, seemingly simplistic idea to upload pictures into the body of dancing elves became a viral sensation. 62% of traffic in the first few years came from email. Now, it has a presence on the usual social media platforms and mobile app stores.

Perhaps even more amazing than the campaign is the brand behind it – OfficeMax. Proving an inspiration to marketers everywhere, OfficeMax exemplifies the technique of inserting your brand into trending topics and becoming relevant by association.

File:Elf Yourself screenshot.jpg

High user engagement is critical in digital marketing campaigns. “Elf Yourself” is successful because it is personal: you can put your friends or co-workers faces on the elves. Engagement is a coveted metric within social media today, and what’s often missing is that element of interactivity. Users don’t just want to view an ad, they want to be entertained by it; they want to participate in it.

Topshop: Dear Pinterest

Topshop has launched a Christmas campaign through Pinterest, with customers in its flagship stores able to pin, share and shop for items on giant touchscreens as well as online, on mobile and through Topshop apps.

The ‘Dear Topshop’ campaign enables customers to pull together Topshop items across the brand’s platforms, including both stores and online, with the products with the most pins being showcased on Topshop’s homepage every day.

Acting as virtual Christmas gift guides, Pinterest boards can also be entered into a competition offering the chance to win gifts such as shopping sprees worth up to £500.

Google +: Wallace and Gromit

In 2012, Google brought together the characters from Wallace and Gromit. The video shows the characters using a Google+ Hangout, which supports a multi-person video chat with up to 10 screens, to open their presents together.

eBay: Give a Toy Store

In 2011, eBay created interactive store windows featuring popular toys that represented different donation levels, from $2 to $25. Customers had to download the eBay mobile app to scan custom QR codes on virtual price tags using a mobile phone. This triggered the toys to animate and “come to life.” As donations were made to Toys for Tots, the virtual toys celebrated and expressed their gratitude.

This year, eBay set up a digital storefront for Rebecca Minkoff, Toms and Sony in the Westfield San Francisco Centre. As with any smartphone or tablet device, you just touch the screen and start browsing products, then complete the order via PayPal on your mobile device. Items can either be delivered to your home for free or picked up in the Sony store nearby.

Macy’s: Believe-O-Magic

Macy’s Believe Campaign was given a futuristic twist, as it implemented augmented reality to allow children to use an app that brought to life a character they called “Virginia”, who taught that Santa could only exist if you believe. Shoppers could take Christmas pictures with her after posting their letter to Santa at a Macy’s store.

John Lewis: The Bear and the Hare

John Lewis spent £7 million on a hand-animated and cute tale called “The Bear and The Hare,” which has generated more than 11 million views on YouTube to date. What’s innovative is all the components that go with it, and none more so than the windows of its flagship store in London. They feature some of the 188 animal sculptures made from 7,000 everyday products tied to the bear and hare theme, like a reindeer made of Dyson vacuums, a polar bear of Nintendo Wiis and a turkey crafted from a series of rolled up towels.

The retailer is also running a contest with the campaign, calling all aspiring singers to record and upload their own versions of Keane’s “Somewhere Only We Know” for a chance to have their recording play with the commercial on Christmas day.

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