And just like that… we are only a short sleigh-ride away from the Christmas holidays.
This time last year, we shared one of our absolute favourite traditions – spending quality time in central London, taking in the Christmas window displays. It combines our passions – fashion, luxury, creativity and design, alongside digital.
Reminiscing on the year that’s coming to an end, we reread last year’s blog An ode to the ‘not so humble’ Christmas window display to remind ourselves of some of the 2022 stars. They really did not disappoint – the likes of Cartier, Fortnum and Mason, and Selfridges curated show-stoppers that lit up the streets of London and put smiles on the faces of shoppers and commuters alike. And they left some big creative shoes to fill.
This time of year brings out the festivity in all of us, so it’s only right we took to celebrating our love of the Christmas window once again. In 2023, retailers up and down the country have quite simply delivered. Luxury names are living up to last year’s performance, and bringing us the festivities in the beloved Christmas window way. We’re even seeing the hospitality sector stepping into Christmas with their own creative showcases – check out The Dome and Gleneagles Townhouse in Edinburgh or Annabel’s in London.
Back to retail ….
So, who are the creative geniuses this year?
One of our favourites is from Harvey Nichols’ in Knightsbridge. It blends tradition with futurism for its take on the classic Christmas bauble. The theme and design has also fed into the store itself, with shoppers being able to partake in a ‘festive funfair’. This approach has not only modernised a traditional creative idea, but encourages shoppers to, not leaving anything or anyone outside in the cold.
Another Christmas staple is John Lewis and Partners and its omni-channel approach to its Christmas theme. Each year, viewers begin to celebrate the festivities upon the arrival of the John Lewis TV ad – which, most years, never fails to bring a tear to the eye of every viewer (remember Excitable Edgar?). The lead up to the John Lewis adverts arrival to our screens gets bigger and better every year. The buzz is created digitally through social media teaser campaigns and customer emails, this helps to build the audience’s intrigue, and eagerness for its release. However, this year the ad hasn’t been met with the same festive cheer as usual. There’s been a divide of viewer opinions, criticising the ad’s lightheartedness, and contrast to its usual tone. Some have also questioned the connection between the advert and John Lewis’s product offering, after all it’s not a garden centre, but then it only sells cuddly dragons too!
However, the advert was given a place in the Christmas at Kew light display this year, which was a genius move. And a nice collaboration that works with the botanical theme. The Venus Flytrap (named Snapper) has made its own appearance beaming over visitors (with ‘Festa’ being belted out by Andrea Bocelli) as part of the much loved light display. Although the ad wasn’t necessarily met with all-round rave reviews, it had a celebratory place in the light trail which thousands of people will bear witness to over the festive period.
And finally, Jo Malone, it is not a Christmas window as such but worthy of a mention. The much-loved lifestyle brand’s sponsorship of ‘Glide’ at Battersea Power Station has been made complete with a free immersive gingerbread house experience. A little light relief from the Christmas shopping or skating, visitors can dance with, or even become, a virtual gingerbread person in the interactive photo booth, or take part in gingerbread house masterclasses. The theme aligns with one of the limited edition festive scents – Ginger Biscuit – and features subtly on Jo Malone’s website via images of the gingerbread house shaped packaging and gingerbread person gift tags in store.
It’s interesting to see a slight increase in the creative use of digital by brands this Christmas, but they could do so much more.
Gen Z, for example, are digital natives and brands vying for their attention need to be visible on social media and serve impactful, engaging creative content that can be shared over TikTok, Snap and Instagram. This does happen with ‘Christmas window viewer’ generated content i.e., Photos and videos – although we haven’t seen as much this year.
The digitalisation of Christmas could be embraced more by brands – after all it’s becoming tradition to see family Zoom-calls during Christmas dinner, and virtual gifting between family and friends. It’s no secret that the majority of Christmas shopping is being done online, too.
It’s important to remember the gift of giving at christmas – so why not share creativity with everyone? Which is exactly what we can do through the digital form. Every year brands are raising the bar when it comes to Christmas creative-prowess, and every year, shoppers are treated to the very best in visual design and storytelling to kickstart their festive season.
But consumers want the festive experience, regardless of whether they see it in person on the streets of London, Newcastle or Edinburgh, or on a screen at home. The digitalisation of Christmas doesn’t hinder the window displays, but further amplifies them. It helps brands to produce content that is accessible, shareable anywhere and everywhere.