Marketing moments of the month are back, baby – and this time, it’s the edition we’ve all been waiting for, as we relay some of the best festive campaigns that 2023 afforded us.
1. St Pancras celebrates the magic of literature
St Pancras station is one of those places that you love to admire from afar during the festive season.
The expectation: Twinkling Christmas lights, piano music played by a talented commuter, strangers locking eyes under some mistletoe and falling in love (*or whatever the storyline was for that National Lottery advert…).
The reality: Sensory overload. You’ve been elbowed in the face by a particularly aggressive 5-year-old. You had to sprint to the platform. The wheels broke on your suitcase as you pulled it through the train. Your Pret subscription wouldn’t load, and the barista was having none of it.
Pre-November, it wasn’t the most relaxing of places. But, thanks to a certain festive instalment, this fate was poised to change.
In November, the station unveiled its highly anticipated Christmas centrepiece. Standing at 12-metres tall and adorned with over 3,800 hand-painted books, the St Pancras Tree is real life literary escapism: right in the centre of one of the UK’s busiest stations.
In each booth, speakers allow customers to select a five minute excerpt from an audiobook, or a reading provided exclusively by Penguin Books. Or, you can take a perch in one of the eight cubby holes and simply watch the world go by.
Wendy Spinks, Commercial Director at St. Pancras and HS1 Ltd, said “From real-life travel experiences to the fantastical lands of our imagination, we hope that festive visitors feel the magic and are inspired to pick up or gift their loved ones the most timeless gift of all: books.”
With a few weeks to go until the 25th, have you had your festive literary moment IRL? Or are you saving it until you’ve got the Chris Rea blasting, and are officially driving (*getting the train*), home for Christmas?
2. JD brings all the nostalgia
No brand does youth culture quite like JD Sports.
Last year’s Christmas ad featured some of the most notable faces making waves with Gen Z.
This year (dare I say it) – they might’ve just topped it.
With cameos from Central Cee, Nia Archives, Davido, Cat Burns, Joy Crookes and Kano, the ad stripped back the luxury this year, and instead chose to spotlight its humble identifier: the JD duffle bag.
JD Sports is one of those brands that doesn’t just know its audience; it understands its audience.
Working with the agency Uncommon, JD recognised that its core demographic didn’t want a campaign centred on mass consumerism. They wanted togetherness, friendship and warmth – signifiers of the festive season that champion the simple things.
In three days, the ad received more than 4.5 million YouTube views, went viral on TikTok and garnered a huge amount of praise.
The sweet spot? Nostalgia.
Rather than going for glitz and glamour, JD embraced its duffle bag for what it is: a symbol of British youth culture. The result was an authentic, on-brand campaign that steers clear of the typical festive tropes.
You can check out the ad below…
3. Snoop Dogg plays us
Some things in life go hand-in-hand. One simply just isn’t as good without the other.
Salt and pepper. Rhythm and blues. Ben Affleck and Dunkin Donuts. Socks.
Snoop Dogg and smoking is one such duo.
His persona is almost entirely built around marijuana consumption – spanning multiple entrepreneurial ventures (Dank from the Doggfather Himself, if you’re interested) and many anecdotal stories of getting high with celebrities from Ed Sheeran to Pharrell.
So, imagine the surprise of *literally the entire world*, when he announced in November that he was “giving up smoking”.
“After much consideration & conversation with my family, I’ve decided to give up smoke,” read the post. “Please respect my privacy at this time.”
Global media coverage began. Fans flooded the comments with messages of support. Even Conor McGregor shared his well-wishes, pondering “Sometimes you gotta say to yourself, you run it, it doesn’t run you. That man runs that game, it doesn’t run him. So I wish him all the best”.
Alas – it was in fact, one big fat prank. A marketing ploy to end all marketing ploys.
Snoop shared that he was actually partnering with the smoke-free fire pit brand Solo Stove, as the brand’s official “smokesman” – narrating “I’m done with the coughing, and my clothes smelling all sticky icky. I’m going smokeless. Solo Stove, fix five. They take out the smoke. Clever.”
You can watch the advert below – genius stuff.
4. Deck the halls and pop the Bublé
It’s December, and our favourite Canadian has officially defrosted. Michael Buble, aka the King of Christmas, is back.
You’d think the festive season would be Bublé’s busiest time of year – so it was surprising to see him join the Asda payroll, as none other than their Chief Quality Control Officer.
Yes, you read that right: Asda joined forces with none other than Michael Bublé this year.
The ad sees him sampling some tasty-looking Christmas snacks (purely for quality assurance purposes I’d presume), and chatting away to different staff members.
You can catch up with all the silliness below:
5. The Pho Fix
Ok, ok, ok. Technically. Tech-nica-lly. This isn’t a marketing moment from last month – but it’s hot, it’s current, and it ties together two beautiful (and not-so-beautiful) concepts: a hangover, and a good feed.
If you’ve never sampled a steaming hot dish from Pho, I feel for you. Genuinely. The Vietnemese chain has many restaurants dotted around the UK, offering street food dishes, and of course, servings a-plenty of Pho.
Pho is the national dish of Vietnam. It’s healthy, hearty and (apparently) a hangover cure.
So, it seems wildly fitting that at the beginning of this week (Monday 10th December), the chain launched a pop-up in the heart of London.
The concept? To relieve Londoners from the post-Christmas party pain, on what is known to be the “most hungover week of the year”.
The pop-up offers complimentary bowls of phở, freshly squeezed juices, skincare products (for those pesky gin-induced breakouts), and even a hydrating IV drip.
Entry is free – and we’d encourage anyone to pop over for a visit. Bonus points if it’s the morning after the office Christmas party…
And that’s all folks! We’ll be taking a well-deserved festive break, but we’ll be back in January to share all our favourite marketing moments for you.
Have a Holly Jolly Christmas…
XOXO, Gossip Girl