PR Campaigns - The Good, The Bad & The Viral - Christmas Special

As 2018 draws to a close and we head into the holiday season we’ve been taking a look at some of our favourite Christmas campaigns from 2018. From scripts painted on train platforms, to stepping into Christmas with Elton John and slightly-more-exciting-than-usual socks we’ve narrowed down a plethora of Christmas PR campaigns to our favourite four… 

It’s A Wonderful Line

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Recently, the issue of mental health at Christmas has come to the forefront of the media, with many charities raising awareness that for some, it is not ‘the most wonderful time of the year’. In order to raise awareness of the issue and help people struggling over the holiday period, Virgin Trains has teamed up with their long-term charity partner Rethink Mental Illness for an uplifting festive campaign.

The script of the classic Christmas film, ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’ is appearing on train platforms over advent to show how powerful simple acts of kindness can be. The 1946 film is famed for being an uplifting Christmas staple, but it also deals with the difficult story of one man’s struggle with a life that hasn’t gone to plan.

The bright yellow text covers 7.5km of platforms on the Virgin Trains route from London to Glasgow at stations including London, Birmingham, Liverpool, Manchester, Preston, Carlisle and Glasgow. The platform text also includes online links offering simple ways to intervene when someone is struggling with mental health.

Throughout December, travellers will also be able to watch It’s A Wonderful Life on-board Virgin Trains while volunteers from Rethink Mental Illness will be fundraising at stations throughout the campaign period.

This thoughtful Christmas PR campaign has received widespread coverage in the likes of the Daily Mail, Stylist, Huff Post, The I, Lonely Planet and Heart FM.

Follow the journey on social media with #itsawonderfulline.

Merry Greggs-Mas!

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We’ve all fallen victim to the Christmas shopping mania - rushing into town to pick-up last-minute gifts only to be met with crowds of people and a rather miserable drizzle that seems perfectly designed to make your hair frizzy. Luckily, Greggs are on hand to help this year with its free gift-wrapping service.

To help alleviate some of the stress that the build up to Christmas brings, Greggs hired their own Christmas elves to treat customers to free gift wrapping whilst they enjoy a complimentary glass of mulled wine. The campaign was inspired by a survey of over 2,000 people that revealed 69% of the nation find Christmas stressful.

The stores also brought out their own range of Christmas stocking fillers such as branded Christmas jumpers and a sausage roll phone case (we’re adding that straight to our Christmas list)!

The campaign achieved coverage in regional papers such as Birmingham Mail and Time Out magazine. We think it was a great way to attract new customers and get the loyal ones in the Christmas spirit!

The Nation’s Least Favourite Christmas Present…

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We’ve all been there… attempting to buy Christmas gifts, only to resort to Marks & Sparks socks again. But, this year, Gigs in Scotland have cleverly taken on the nation’s favourite plan B Christmas gift with a twist…

Gigs in Scotland have turned the gift into a must-have for every music fan with their range of ‘Sock n Roll’ socks, which are actually a ticket into some of the country’s best music events for 2019!

Each pair of socks comes loaded with a unique gift card code, redeemable online at Ticketmaster and include tickets for TRANSMT festival and Summer Sessions. They’re the perfect gift for music-lovers!

We love the way this campaign combines the classic (and often deemed ‘boring’) gift of socks and gift cards to create a funny, relatable and most importantly, desirable gift that solves the woes of many Christmas shoppers. And with coverage on the Scottish Sun, Glasgow Live and Edinburgh Live it can definitely be considered a PR success too.

Step into Christmas with Elton

Every year we eagerly wait to see what heart-warming, tear-jerking advert John Lewis has created, but this year it’s caused mixed reviews. The short films featured in the run up to Christmas have previously featured Monty the penguin, trampolining dogs, monsters under the bed and the man on the moon, but for 2018 the brand has resorted to old-fashioned star power to sell Christmas with Sir Elton John singing his Your Song anthem.

The advert highlights the importance of gift-giving and how Elton’s gift of a piano from his grandmother helped make him the global icon he is today.

For the first time, John Lewis introduced an experiential element to its Christmas campaign this year using 83,000 stores to screen the film at 6am before it was officially shared on social media at 8am (also a breakaway from tradition as customers usually wait for it to appear on their TVs first).

Customers also had the chance to step in to the set of the advert and interact with props in 2,000 sq. ft experiential space. John Lewis even hosted a musical light show featuring Elton’s ‘Step into Christmas’ from the shop window every 30 minutes on the day it launched.

As much as we all love Elton, this campaign received mixed reviews with some viewers slamming it as an ‘awful’ advert for not being about Christmas. Some have also complained that the advert is a plug for Elton’s biopic ‘Rocketman’ set to launch next year and his last world tour. Another issue raised is that John Lewis don’t actually sell pianos, but since the complaints started rolling in, they have started selling them - the first time in decades.

Whilst this campaign received mixed reviews, we liked it for it’s truly integrated nature. No longer relying on just an advert to get Christmas sales up, John Lewis and Partners utilised creative, experiential PR stunts and social media to boost their presence.

As usual for any John Lewis Christmas advert, it has been shared endlessly with articles on Vogue, Independent, Guardian, Evening Standard, Daily Mail, The Sun, I News and Sky and many more.