The holiday season can account for up to 40% of a retailer’s annual revenue, and thus it’s no surprise to see some of our favorite stores (and fashion brands) go all-out with festive campaigns in a bid to capture as many dollars as possible.
Multiple initiatives have lined up to grab our attention this year, but if there’s one thing tying them together, it’s interactivity. From singing contests you can enter to touchscreens you can explore, participation is the biggest push for 2013.
Pinterest is also proving big news. According to a recent study by Lab42, 94% of users say the virtual scrapbooking site has changed how they prepare for the holidays, while 42% have created their own holiday-themed boards. Meanwhile, stats show such activity is also affecting sales. Revenue on retail sites that originated from Pinterest doubled over Thanksgiving weekend, and brands like Target and Topshop have quickly taken advantage.
Here’s our pick of the top seven activations.
1. eBay's Touchscreen Storefronts
First up is the digital storefronts eBay set up for Rebecca Minkoff, Toms and Sony in the Westfield San Francisco Centre shopping mall this season. Shopping from them is easy. 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 at the Sony Gallery on the floor below.
2. Gap's VSCO-Powered Gift Guide
Gap gave an indie twist to its holiday gift guide by partnering with seven well-known users of photo-editing app VSCO for its Make Love campaign. Those artists acted as both models and photographers, captured in various Gap products themselves and completing their own photo assignments based on one of Gap’s holiday themes: fair isle, indigo, metallic, plaid, stripes, texture and warmth. The results are featured on both a dedicated page on VSCO’s website as well as in Gap.com’s “Give A-Z” holiday guide.
3. John Lewis' "The Bear and The Hare"
Over in the UK meanwhile, John Lewis wins for the biggest budget when it comes to advertising this year. It spent £7 million ($11.4 million) on a hand-animated and very cute tale called "The Bear and The Hare," which has garnered more than 10 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.
4. JC Penney's "Jingle Mingle" Singing Contest
JC Penney also called for singing content from its fans this year. Up until Dec. 3 it invited aspiring vocalists to upload videos of themselves singing "Silent Night" to its Jingle Mingle website. Hundreds of the best are then going to be played on the facade of the retailer's Manhattan Mall store. For each one submitted, JC Penney donated $20 to the United Service Organizations (USO).
5. Topshop's "Dear Pinterest" Campaign
It was all about Pinterest for Topshop this season. The UK-based retailer used Pinterest to power its online gift guide, and even attached oversized tags to in-store merchandise identifying the ones that had been pinned the most. In November, there was also a giant touchscreen in Topshop's New York and London flagships that allowed shoppers to pin, share and shop from a gift list there and then.
6. Target's Pinteresting "Awesome Shop"
Pinterest also makes an appearance at Target this season. Target has launched an e-commerce storefront powered by Pinterest as well as its own reviews this year. Target Awesome Shop, as it’s called, incorporates over 1,000 products that have received four stars or higher in the customer reviews on Target.com and are one of the retailer's most-pinned products on Pinterest. The result: a highly curated, not to mention awesome, list of recommended items. You can search by category and then click on each product for more information (such as those reviews), before being redirected to the main Target.com site to add them to your shopping cart.
7. Louis Vuitton's "The Goose Game"
Louis Vuitton created an online board game to feature its holiday gifts. The game, which functions much like "Snakes and Ladders," is made up of squares featuring Louis Vuitton products that players can purchase in just a few clicks.
Honorable Mention: Kmart's "Show Your Joe"
It may not be a stunning piece of innovation, but Kmart's "Show Your Joe" commercial sure brought the laughs -- and the views. The video, which was made for TV, has racked up more than 16 million views on YouTube alone since its Nov. 15 release.