Ahhhh… the holidays. A time for family gatherings, bright lights, decadent treats—and figuring out what the hell you’re going to buy for everyone on your shopping list. Fortunately, many brands leverage this time of year to deliver shoppable pop-up stores and other festive experiences that give consumers a reason to brave the frosty December temps. Here, we bring you a roundup of 16 holiday activations that jingled all the way.
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Pop culture media brand PopSugar is no stranger to holiday activations, but the brand this year shifted its strategy to focus on wellness-inspired experiences at its “Sugar Chalet.” Open for one day, Nov. 23, in New York City’s Bryant Park, the Chalet featured various yoga classes, as well as a wellness “retreat” that included meditation workshops with MNDFL, crystal ear-seeding (used to stimulate pressure points in the ear) by Yinova, hand massages and palm readings led by renowned astrologers.
There was also a Gifting Den where consumers could get some holiday shopping done, then have a note of gratitude personalized by PopSugar’s on-site calligraphy artist; a meet-and-greet with food blogger Chef Maria Koutsogiannis; festive food and beverages; candy-inspired makeover stations; and chill spaces like the brand’s “snowy hammock” and “luxe lounge.”
How’s this for spectacle: Jaguar kicked off its Unwrap a Jaguar holiday campaign by announcing a series of “Light Parades” featuring 18 of the brand’s all-electric I‑PACE vehicles, each decorated with holiday wrapping paper and festive LED lights. Revving up the streets of Los Angeles and New York, the fleet will travel the two cities through Jan. 2 from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily. The concept was inspired by brand partner and HGTV star Jonathan Scott of “Property Brothers,” who designed the vehicle wraps using sustainable materials to inspire consumers to be more eco-friendly and to underscore the I-PACE’s sustainable features.
The first Light Parade took place on Dec. 2 at the ROW DTLA plaza in L.A. There, consumers could explore Scott’s list of “Sustainable Holiday Hacks” (among them: “skip the conventional tree and create your own using stacked books”) and check out a Santa’s Workshop-themed pop-up where Scott’s holiday hacks were brought to life. Agency: Havas Formula.
If you love the holiday movie “Elf,” this one’s for you. Club Wyndham, in partnership with Warner Bros., dreamed up an “Elf”-themed suite at its property in midtown Manhattan, where guests were immersed in the film’s key scenes from the get-go. After stepping through a door wrapped in an elf ensemble, consumers could explore the one-bedroom suite. Among the offerings: hundreds of paper snowflakes like the ones Buddy makes in the movie, a wall-sized gift installation, a larger-than-life nutcracker (“son of a nutcracker!”), a towering Christmas tree, an array of Buddy’s favorite toys including an Etch A Sketch and garlands galore. Reservations for the four-person suite started at $399 per night, and sold out within 30 minutes.
TIFFANY & CO.
Tiffany & Co. is making spirits bright on the other side of the pond with a Winter Wonderland experience and ice-skating rink at London’s Covent Garden through Dec. 26. Consumers enter the experience through a branded bridge that mimics those found in New York’s Central Park before immersing themselves in the activation, which was inspired by the brand’s fragrance. A snowman and a giant snow globe installation featuring a replica bottle of Tiffany & Co. perfume offer photo ops, while oversized versions of the brand’s famous blue gift boxes nestled into sparkling (fake) snow are also sprinkled through the footprint. But the main draw is a real-life ice-skating rink, where Tiffany’s fragrance is pumped into the space as consumers glide around for free (Tiffany even provides the skates). Additional touchpoints include gift-wrapping services and complimentary laser-engraving on bottles. Agency: The Persuaders.
The holiday season isn’t exactly the time of year most of us focus on fitness, but Heineken 0.0 (the brewer’s non-alcoholic beverage brand) is aiming to change that through its partnership with elite fitness club Performix House and Nike master trainer Alex Silver-Fagan. On select Thursdays in December and January, Silver-Fagan is hosting “6-Pack Series” workouts to provide simple, fun fitness tips, and exercise routines that are easy to follow and can be completed almost anywhere. Training sessions take place in small group settings, and are followed by 0.0 happy hours with Silver-Fagan where participants can enjoy a cold one without compromising their commitment to maintaining a healthy lifestyle during the holidays. Agency: Edelman.
Legacy West, North Texas’ upscale retail and residential center, may not be a property you’re familiar with, but this activation was just too good not to include in our roundup. On Black Friday at the Legacy West Shopping Center in Dallas, the brand unveiled the world’s first Ugly Christmas Sweater Hall of Fame featuring 34 of the tackiest holiday sweaters on the planet, all curated by the Ugly Christmas Sweater Shop. The experience, open throughout the month of December, features an 80-foot-tall wall display of the garments, each accompanied by its own frame. The installation itself is Insta-worthy, but additional photo ops include an oversized frame at the center of the footprint, and Santa Paws photo days during which consumers can bring their dog and take a photo with Santa on the Hall of Fame lawn.
Attendees can also take advantage of free gift-wrapping services provided by Anita Ivancevic of Freeform’s “Wrap Battle,” take a cocktail tour through the shops, and for one day on Dec. 12, had the chance to decorate their own ugly holiday sweater cookies while sipping on hot cocoa from Lattes on Location. And on Dec. 15, a Christmas Village Marketplace gave consumers a chance to shop for holiday gifts among 25 small businesses that were set up along the property’s main shopping avenue. Popular YouTubers Brooklyn and Bailey, and TikTok creator DreaKnowsBest, have stopped by the Hall of Fame, helping Legacy West attract more than 1,500 consumers (and counting) to the activation. Agency: LOUDER Experiences.
Giving Tuesday offers brands a chance to showcase their charitable side and on Dec. 3, Facebook joined the ranks with holiday pop-ups in New York, Chicago and L.A. At each location, the brand invited consumers to donate to the Military Mama Network, a nonprofit that supports military families in need, through QR codes found on oversized gift boxes. The pop-ups also include festive décor and photo ops, info on the Military Mama Network, a letter-writing station where attendees can send support to military families and troops overseas and a hot chocolate bar. Agency: Proud Robinson.
Speaking of cause-based campaigns, Coke for a ninth year is activating its Coca-Cola Christmas Truck Tour in 20 locations across the UK. The brand has pledged to donate 10p (10 pence) for every can placed in its recycling bins during the tour, and will donate the proceeds to Crisis, a homelessness charity. The initiative will support Coke’s World Without Waste pledge to collect and recycle a bottle or can for every one sold by 2030.
In addition to the charitable component, the Truck Tour features free samples, a series of festive photo moments, the opportunity to buy a pack of 250ml glass bottles of Coke personalized with someone’s name, and a Snapchat filter. And at Oxford Circus station, the brand will infuse the area with a cinnamon scent and provide a cinnamon-inspired igloo experience to promote its new cinnamon-flavored products.
Target and select partner brands are spreading holiday cheer with a gigantic, multisensory New York City pop-up dubbed Wonderland!, open through Dec. 22. The 16,000-square-foot experience includes a space where pine-scented bubbles are emitted alongside a stack of holiday-themed Mrs. Meyers soap bottles arranged in the shape of a Christmas tree; gaming zones; a broad range of complimentary treats; toy shops and tech-fueled touchpoints, like a hallway of interactive “Star Wars” lightsabers, a giant snow globe photo moment that results in a shareable GIF and a tasting kitchen sponsored by Campbell’s.
The pop-up features countless photo and video ops, including an opportunity for attendees to type their personal holiday stories into a keyboard, then watch the words instantly transform into an animated video and personalized poster. There’s also a LEGO station where consumers are invited to add the toy bricks to a small panel that gets placed on a wall—hundreds of them will be combined to create a holiday scene mosaic. Nearby, a giant LEGO replica of Target’s mascot, Bullseye the dog, offers an Insta-worthy moment.
Target is making it easy for consumers to make purchases by placing barcodes throughout the space that enabled visitors to not just view products on display, but also order them through the Target app or Target.com on their devices. Brand ambassadors are available at each station to assist shoppers in downloading the app and explaining its features.
Rounding out the program is a philanthropic component: Target will donate up to $1 million to Toys for Tots through an on-site feature that allows visitors to literally submit their holiday wishes through a pneumatic tube (think: those old cylindrical containers found at drive-up banks), activating a $40 Target donation per wish.
Also worth noting: Wonderland! touchpoints were built to celebrate a variety of holiday traditions, not just Christmas, to create an environment that was as inclusive and accessible as possible. Agency: Wasserman.
How do you knock pumpkin spice off its high horse? With rum, of course. Captain Morgan rang in the holidays with the launch of its limited edition Captain Morgan Gingerbread Spiced rum at an event in November in partnership with Big Gay Ice Cream in Manhattan’s West Village. The event for media and influencers included an appearance by comedian Adam Devine. Attendees could check out the product (it has a textured label that mimics the feel of a gingerbread cookie) and enjoy an ice-cream sandwich infused with Captain Morgan Gingerbread Spiced rum dubbed by Big Gay Ice Cream the “’Merry Morgan’ Trucker.” The shop is serving up the Trucker to customers 21 years an older through Dec. 26.
Software brand SAP is lighting up the Shops at Hudson Yards in New York City with its holiday sponsorship campaign, which kicked off on Nov. 29, as part of Hudson Yards’ Shine On holiday event program. Among sponsored activities are daily showings of artist Christopher Schardt’s Lyra, a collection of star-shaped sculptures, each comprised of 12,000 individually controllable LED lights, all synchronized to a classical soundtrack. Limited-edition Shine On LED bracelets presented by SAP are available for sale, and light up daily. The bracelets also unlock special offers and access to the property’s shops and restaurants, while a portion of the proceeds benefit various nonprofits.
SAP is also hosting a digital Holiday Match and Win game on-site, with a chance for consumers to earn prizes from various retailers. For each match made during the game, SAP and Nickelodeon teamed up to donate a toy to a children’s charity. And to add to the joy, the brands have enlisted Spongebob Squarepants, who will make an appearance at Hudson Yards. Additional SAP-sponsored activities include wreath-making and cookie-decorating classes, music performances and art-based experiences. Agency: We’re Magnetic.
Ahead of the premiere of its first animated feature film, “Klaus,” Netflix on World Kindness Day (Nov. 13) delivered a stunt worthy of the spirit of character Jesper, who in the film says, “A simple act of kindness can always spark another.” For the program, Netflix partnered with Big Brothers Big Sisters of America to fulfill thousands of holiday wish lists written by children involved in the charity. But to kick things off, the brand dropped massive gifts in Los Angeles, New York City and Chicago that opened to reveal locally inspired themed gifts families could take home, a letter-writing station to write letters to Klaus, a gift-wrapping station and a donation station to support each local chapter of Big Brothers Big Sisters.
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Consumers today crave access, which is why for the first time in its 75-year-history, Tupperware went live with its own holiday pop-up. The unexpectedly modern experience dubbed TuppSoho, and located in the SoHo neighborhood of Manhattan, was decked out in bold colors against white sleek countertops and walls. Open through Dec. 22, the pop-up offered hands-on product demonstrations that included time- and money-saving hacks with the Tupperware culinary team, Insta-worthy moments and shoppable product displays. The launch of TuppSoho coincided with the unveiling of the new Tupperware.com, a redesigned site making it easier to shop products and connect with local Tupperware Independent Representatives.
AMAZON PRIME VIDEO, LEXUS
For the launch of the third season of “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel,” Amazon Prime Video has collaborated with INTERSECT BY LEXUS in New York City to celebrate the eight “marvelous” nights of Hanukkah. INTERSECT is a culinary experience where attendees engage with Lexus through events, activities, food and culture. Throughout the eight nights of the holiday, Dec. 22-30, INTERSECT is hosting a schedule of “Mrs. Maisel” themed experiences, from giveaways (like carry-on cocktail kits) to food demonstrations to tastings and workshops (like wish lantern-making with recycled paper).
Yahoo and BuzzFeed invited New Yorkers to “Slay The Holidays” on Dec. 13 with a mini pop-up marketplace featuring merchandise from Ultraviolet Jewelry, Akalo wearable vitamins and Brooklyn Brujeria, as well as interactive engagements. The space was divided into various stations, each offering attendees a chance to earn points for prizes. Consumers learned more about Yahoo’s new product at the Yahoo Mail App Station; decorated sugar cookies at the Tasty Station; took a BuzzFeed x Yahoo email quiz at the BuzzFeed station; played a carnival-style email toss to “unsubscribe” while “Shannon” the Junk Mail Heckler thwarted their attempts at the Unsubscribe Game station; and captured the perfect holiday postcard at the Green Screen Photo Booth, which featured mugs of hot cocoa, ugly holiday sweaters and cat props.
After making their way through the stations, attendees arrived at the Inbox Checklist where they could cash in their points. Prizes included Yahoo Mail icon patches, Akalo hangover patches, Brooklyn Brujeria’s Magia Candle and amethyst stud earrings from Ultraviolet. Agency: CRONY Creative.
Holiday season air travel is not that comfortable. Unless, maybe, you have access to one of those fancy airport lounges. Uber this season stepped in to help flyers ride out the process by opening the Uber Comfort Club at Terminal 2 in Chicago O’Hare Airport. Open from Dec. 7 through Jan. 3, the pop-up space was available to economy travelers and offered space to relax as well as giveaways. Upon entry, visitors received Comfort Kits complete with an eye mask, fuzzy travel socks and ear plugs and a promo code for Uber Comfort rides. They could hang out and enjoy “extra leg room” (one of the features of Uber Comfort rides), sip on a complimentary warm or cool beverage or don a pair of noise canceling headphones to escape the chaos of the airport. The activation was supported by a digital film spot that depicts travelers anticipating their Uber Comfort rides waiting for them at their destinations. Agency: Tool of North America.