Marmite’s Interactive Oxford Street Christmas Lights

Love it or hate it, even London’s beloved Oxford Street Christmas lights are a sponsorship platform these days. And nothing says Christmas quite like flying elves carrying yeast extract spread!


But at least this year there was an innovative element of consumer interaction, participation and even a nod to consumer-control within Marmite’s 2012 festive lights initiative.


The centrepiece of Marmite’s Oxford Street Christmas Lights was not the overt images of the iconic brand’s pot swinging high above Oxford Circus, but rather an interactive bus shelter outside Selfridges that enables consumers to take portrait photos and upload them to a giant screen that is part of the UK’s highest profile festive light landscape.


Part of a four-week festive promotion, the Unilever brand teamed up with Kinetic/Fuel (plus Grand Visual, DDB and Clear Channel) to convert a bus stop into a golden photo booth and invited shoppers and passers-by to show whether they love or hate the famous black spread by uploading amusing images of themselves that, within just three minutes, become part of the traditional Oxford Street Xmas light show.


After the big switch on, the brand also launched an app on its Facebook page the even enables fans to upload a picture of themselves wearing an expression of love or hate. Those taking part will be given an allotted time slot to see their image on the screen. The app will live stream the event for people who are unable to make it to the London venue.


The general lights also feature classic Christmas characters – from elves and reindeer to gifts and Santa Claus himself – either loving or hating marmite (as well as direct marmite product imagery). These line the British capital’s main shopping thoroughfare from Poland Street to Marble Arch and flash in certain sequences to create an animation effect.


‘Marmite’s sponsorship of the Oxford Street Christmas lights is a great way for us to reward our loyal fans for their support and the addition of the bus shelter is another way to reach fans and give them a moment of fame,’ said Marmite brand manager Joanne O’Riada. ‘The shelter will attract existing Marmite fans and consumers looking for something special to trial over the festive period.’




This is the most innovative Oxford Street activation since its famous Christmas lights were first offered to sponsors five-years ago (when Disney became the first brand to sign up).


To complete its interactive approach to the project, Marmite even offered the public the chance to vote on Oxford Street lights switch-off. Even this campaign thread leveraged the Love It/hate It’ idea by giving the ‘haters’ a chance to vote for an earlier than planned switch off on Marmite’s Facebook hate page.


The lights would typically be turned off at 11.30am on 6 January. But Unilever posted a series of posts on the ‘hate page’, asking members of the public what time they would like them turned off on Sunday, January 6. For every 100 ‘likes’ the page received, the lights would be switched off 30 minutes earlier.




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