As 2016 draws to a close, a raft of agencies, brands and commentators are filling news feeds with predictions for 2017. And whilst e3 have been doing the very same (with more to come in January), we wanted to take a brief look at the often skipped-over month of December to see how the industry is rounding off the year in digital. Read on for examples of seasonal experiences, technology and social plus some recent work of our own for Bristol Airport.

Is Santa even coming this year?

It feels as though digital efforts have been a bit lacklustre this December with campaign activity unsurprisingly lead, suffocated even, by big brand TVCs. Instead of another ‘best Christmas marketing campaigns of all time’ lists, we’ve gone against the grain and rounded up the year with a couple of non-TVC related bits of activity that have caught our eye. There’s also a smattering of shameless promotion with a little background on our Bristol Airport Christmas campaign which introduced a richer experience for the organisation’s social media followers at this festive time of year.

Digital Experience – a fresh take on New York’s 150-year holiday window tradition

Let’s jump straight in then. Window Wonderland is a virtual tour of 18 of New York's most iconic holiday windows, powered by Google. Hit 'Start walking' and you're presented with 18 prestigious retailers. Select one of them and you're transported into an intimate branded environment packaged with the retailer's logo, a small bio describing their display, an option for VR or 360 view (depending on device), a VO describing their effort and finally a link to their site. New York's window shopping phenomenon has almost become as prevalent an activity as the shopping itself and this project only exacerbates such notion. Now anyone, no matter where in the world, can get a taste of a NYC Christmas. Simple, smart and tidy work.

4 mulled wines.

‘Technology’ – the sell-out Christmas toy that’s barely had chance to touch the shelves

The physical embodiment of a Tamagotchi?

A glorified Furby?

A Cabbage Patch Kids revival? 

Yes, to all those descriptions. Here's the latest craze and top-selling toy this Christmas - the Hatchimal. Hatchimals are "interactive toy pets" that start life inside a plastic egg and peck their way out after they've been given 10-40 minutes’ worth of TLC. So, why has this somewhat repulsive, furry, unfamiliar bird-like toy made its way into our list exactly? Well, because the incessant consumerism it’s catalysed means that it's culturally relevant right now but we also found it quite surprising that a rather ‘lo-fi’ piece of tech has made it to the top given the breadth of smarter devices available this year for children. It seems the nostalgia factor prevails in this instance (revisit the first three descriptions at the start of this paragraph and you’ll spot a pattern). However, it was refreshing to see that attempts have been made by the big manufacturers to bring younger children closer to the building blocks of technology through toys like Fisher-Price’s Code-a-Pillar which was launched at CES this year and WowWee’s Coji the Coding Robot. Ultimately though, what the tale of the Hatchimal has taught us is that, despite prolific change in consumer behaviour driven largely by rapid developments in technology, one thing remains: we like to consume (it shapes our identity) and we like to consume what others consume (it makes us feel like we belong). Behavioural economists rejoice in the social proof!

5 mince pies.

Social - #Busterthebloodyboxer

And now for a generous dose of hypocrisy; we simply couldn’t resist mentioning John Lewis’s Buster. Crowned the most popular* Christmas ad, globally, of 2016 with a cool 23.7m views on YouTube, #bustertheboxer is currently leading the way and very likely to stay (thanks to a missing Mog this year). But, that's not the reason for Buster's endorsement here. Christmas campaigns are becoming more elaborate by the year and social is playing an increasingly integral role in that shift - a 40% increase YOY for Christmas ad-related search on YouTube tells us that. And that's where Buster decided to play this year, with a close-to-1m-shares Facebook video, John Lewis' typical tweet-ready campaign hashtag at the ready, plus some 360 video exploration (nice idea but unsure of the execution) and a partnership with Snapchat in the form of a sponsored Snapchat Lens on premiere day, notably. Odd bits of UGC have helped out too, see here for one example on Facebook). A fine package of conversation-enticing content all round.

*YouTube's algorithm determining most popular considers not only view count, but also likes / dislikes, how much of the video was consumed etc. etc.

4 more mulled wines.

Bristol Airport - Unwrapped Christmas Campaign

Finally, a little background on our social campaign for Bristol Airport.

After the recent success with our ‘Bristol Airport Unwrapped’ concept where new airport developments are revealed underneath tearing wrapping paper (GIF-style short videos), we rolled out the idea across Facebook’s carousel format which lends itself perfectly to the virtual unwrapping of gifts (& it’s a cost-efficient use of creative collateral). Initially presented with a wrapped, mysterious gift, users are encouraged to swipe left in order to unwrap it; the second frame being a rip, the third a tear, and the fourth a reveal of the gift. The mechanic for winning is simple – users have to like the carousel and answer a straightforward festive question. You read about our Bristol Airport Christmas Campaign or see it for yourself here