A seven week long campaign to encourage shoppers to visit London’s Covent Garden over the Christmas period, which centered on KISS – the world’s first interactive Christmas tree. Created by up and coming London artist Paul Cocksedge, the 50 foot tree gave visitors the opportunity to ignite a cascade of 50,000 LED lights simply by kissing a loved one whilst holding a bunch of Christmas mistletoe. It was supported by an appropriately named Merry Kissmas campaign, which integrated media relations, cause-related marketing and commercial sponsorship to encourage tens of thousands of people to participate.
The objective was to increase the number of visitors to the Covent Garden Piazza and help establish the area as London’s ‘must visit’ Christmas shopping destination.
In a tough retail environment, Covent Garden faced intense competition from other London retail destinations, most of which offered a similar range of shops.
The agency recommended that the best way to attract shoppers from other destinations was to provide an experience that could not be found anywhere else in London. The agency observed how major public arts installations, especially those with an interactive element, have the ability to attract large crowds and create great publicity platforms.
In devising the type of the installation that was required, the agency wanted something that tapped into people’s desire (especially during the Christmas season) to share their experiences with their friends. It also recognised the need to balance the wholesome, traditional type of activity demanded by Covent Garden’s retailers with something that would appeal to younger, more digitally savvy shoppers. What was needed was a cutting edge, digitally-enabled installation that would also be true to the family friendly Christmas spirit.
The agency commissioned up and coming British artist Paul Cocksedge, who designed a 50 foot, digitally enabled Christmas tree. The 50,000 LED lights adorning the tree would be triggered by the human electricity created whenever people held a bunch of mistletoe and shared a kiss beneath it. This simple piece of public participation, perfectly attuned to the Christmas season, captured the imagination of London’s shoppers.
Tens of thousands of people – young and old, friends and couples – were inspired to share a kiss, and the moments were captured by countless mobile phones and shared via social networks. This digital buzz was further enhanced through the agency’s use of hashtags and publication of images and updates via the Covent Garden Twitter and Facebook pages.
The campaign was launched on 11 November with a high-profile celebrity kiss between television presenter Christine Bleakley and showbusiness personality Louie Spence, whose Pineapple Dance Studios have been based in Covent Garden for many years.
The opportunity to have the first kiss with Christine was auctioned on Twitter, which started the online buzz. All appropriate Covent Garden stakeholders were invited to participate in the launch event to enhance the experience for visitors. For example, The Real Food Market was taken over with aphrodisiac products, The Apple Craft Market producers sold kiss themed Christmas gifts and Ella’s Bakehouse sold limited edition ‘kiss cupcakes’.
A calendar of media and promotional activities was created to sustain media and public interest in the Kissmas campaign across the Christmas shopping period. This ensured a regular spread of activity during the seven weeks, with an emphasis on early to late December when shopper numbers were increasing and competition from other West End locations was at its most fierce.
Participation was also encouraged through the inclusion of a cause-related element. £1 was donated to The Prince’s Trust, one the UK’s highest profile charities, every time people shared a kiss under the Covent Garden tree.
- To increase visitor numbers to Covent Garden Piazza and establish the area as London’s ‘must visit’ Christmas shopping location
- To increase consumer awareness of Covent Garden London by driving positive coverage in traditional and digital media
- To raise £25,000 for The Prince’s Trust Charity
- Despite adverse weather across the UK affecting most shopping destinations during the festive period, Covent Garden attracted 3.87million visitors in December
- Resulted in 273 pieces of national, broadcast and online coverage (up 43% from Christmas 2009: 194 pieces) AVE: £1,092,345 / OTS: 63,393,592 / PR Value: £3,277,035
- Over £27,000 was raised through the £1 kiss mechanic
“We are delighted with the response we received for our KISSMAS campaign. We knew the KISSMAS tree would look spectacular, but we were thrilled with how all elements were brought together by one unifying theme. From international visitors and Londoners, to singletons and happy couples, to our retailers and our charity partner and then to the media – all parties were reached via one activation. It fulfilled our brief to bring people together at Christmas in an innovative, engaging way.” Bev Churchill, Brand Director, CAPCO