Christmas is just around the corner. As well as an opportunity for us to spend time with loved ones and enjoy a well-deserved break from the office, the festive season is a great opportunity for business PR. The holiday sees 97% of the UK’s population celebrate but only 23% celebrate December 25th as the birth date of Jesus Christ. Nonetheless that’s almost the entire population who will put up a Christmas tree, send Christmas cards and become annoyed with festive television adverts by December 1st. Christmas appeals to an incredibly broad market and with everyone’s festive traditions following a similar pattern – giving presents, eating a Christmas dinner and spending time with the family – Christmas PR stunts prove relatable to many. Here are some examples of effective Christmas PR stunts:

Christmas Miracle: Real Time Giving
This heart warming PR stunt was launched by Canadian Airline WestJet following a string of seasonal PR stunts and involved passengers of all ages telling a virtual interactive Santa what they wanted for Christmas as their boarding passes were scanned. Their Christmas wishes were noted and during their flight, WestJet employees purchased passengers presents, wrapped them and sent them down a Christmas decoration adorned carousel at baggage claim. The presents included a 50inch TV, Samsung Galaxy smartphone and a digital camera as well as toys for children and socks for those who wanted them!

Pop up trees
To promote the locations of Spar Ireland’s stores, the convenience store company released a television advert in 2012 showing decorated Christmas trees popping up all over Ireland and onlookers looking pleased to see them. Christmas trees appear in the middle of fields, in telephone boxes and floating down rivers in little boats. Spar’s logo is also a green tree.

Travelodge Nativity
In December 2007, Travelodge offered free hotel rooms to all married couples named Mary and Joseph. The promotion ran from Christmas Eve to January 5th and married couples had to show their official marriage licenses to enjoy a free night’s stay.

Living Christmas Fairy
In 2010, Lakeside Shopping Centre set out to increase customer numbers and retail sales by erecting a 50ft Christmas tree outside Lakeside’s main entrance and bringing in ex-Big Brother contestant Chantelle Houghton to become a ‘Living Christmas Fairy’. Chantelle wore a princess-style pink dress and was lowered by crane onto the top of the tree. Photographers used a hydraulic platform to photograph Chantelle and Lakeside’s iconic sign was in the background. News of the stunt spread to The Times, The Sun and the Daily Mail with Chantelle’s appearance spreading to OK, Heat and Now magazines.

Whilst WestJet, Spar Ireland, Travelodge and Lakeside were all praised for their Christmas PR stunts, Hamley’s came under fire in 2010 after advertising there would be real penguin and reindeer displays at their famous London toy store throughout the festive season. Their PR stunt proved unpopular with animal lovers and charities raised welfare concerns saying the animals would be in a warm, busy environment and would most probably suffer from transportation stress. A Born Free spokesperson said the animals were to be used as no more than a “living toy” to attract shoppers. Hamley’s abandoned their display plans at the start of December 2010.

Have you pulled off a festive PR stunt? Get in touch to feature in a future article!