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Published: 19 Dec 2016

Xmas 2016: Philanthropic Dept. Store Initiatives

Barney's New York

Several forward thinking department stores utilised the huge focus on the holiday season, (Christmas still generates as much as 30% of annual retail sales globally Fortune 2016), as an opportunity to play up their wider cultural acumen and commitment to social and ethical causes. It's an area swiftly becoming a necessity - 40% of North American study participants saying they were interested in buying from socially responsible brands (Nielsen, 2016). 

From charitable VM and eco-edutainment workshops to performance concepts highlighting marginalised groups or social issues, we review the best. 

  • AR Storytelling to Combat Global Warming: French department store Galeries Lafayette is raising awareness of global warming and the need to preserve biodiversity with an AR (augmented reality) storytelling concept centring on polar bears, whose natural habitat is already in jeopardy. After downloading an AR app developed by French technologists Sky Boy, visitors point their device at a handmade, white paper Christmas tree in the store’s atrium (by French artist Lorenzo Papace). This activates a 360-degree VR experience allowing them to see the polar bears on-screen, traversing the snow-covered store.

    Polar bear family paper art continues into the windows, while in-store the brand is hosting an Antarctica-oriented photographic exhibition, in partnership with French eco-focused media agency Wild-Touch, as well as talks discussing issues surrounding climate change. Post-Christmas all the paper art installations will be auctioned, with proceeds donated to Wild- Touch.
  • Adult Narratives: London department store Selfridges is hosting a festive pantomime performance in partnership with Sink The Pink – a quarterly London LGBT club night and performance collective. Titled Down The Rabbit Hole, the adults-only theatrical satire deals with London’s property crisis.
Galeries Lafayette
Galeries Lafayette
Wild Touch
Sink The Pink
  • Psychedelic Installations Trigger Social Donations: Belgian design duo Studio Job has created two ultra Instagrammable psychedelic holiday installations (window and in-store) called the Love Peace Joy Project for luxury department store Barneys New York. Referencing the 100-year anniversary of Dadaism and the campy aesthetic of 70s and 80s American TV series The Love Boat, any images tagged on social media with #LovePeaceJoyProject trigger a $5 donation, split between STYLEFUND a female focused confidence-building initiative based in fashion styling – and kid’s charity The Russell Westbrook Why Not? Foundation. Additionally, a Love (digital vending) Machine activated by a $20 donation (distributed between the same charities) dispenses a mystery gift card or Love Peace Joy themed playing cards, pins and patches. 
  • Topical Retail: Post-Brexit Healing: British heritage department store Fortnum & Mason has built on the traditional sense of Christmas unity with a campaign called Together We’re Merrier, playing on the UK’s recent EU referendum (aka Brexit). The window displays include a series of eight stories detailing the partnerships of classic nemeses (The Bull and The China, The Wolf and the Sheep, The Boy and the Brussels Sprouts) to celebrate the importance of togetherness this Christmas.

See also Renegade Retail in our The Currency of Dissent Macro Trend.

See also Digital Christmas 2016 and Christmas ‘16: In-Store Activations, Retail: The Eco-Ethical Upsell and Bombas X Gap: Conscious Consumerism at Christmas.

Fortnum & Mason
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