Tradition and Technology? How Brands Are Making Christmas Magic Modern

14 December, 2022
Tradition and Technology?  How Brands Are Making Christmas Magic Modern

From Santa to snowfall to seasonal traditions, every December the same ubiquitous Christmas images show up in adverts and stores to give us that warm and fuzzy festive feeling. The thing is, as Christmas rolls around again, it’s easy to feel like we’ve already seen it all. That’s why, in recent years, many companies are using the most wonderful time of the year to introduce their most innovative advertising campaigns and displays. From fake snow to countdowns to interactive gift guides, brands are spicing up traditional themes with a little unexpected magic. After all, what else is Christmastime for?

There are certain sentiments that have long been synonymous with Christmas; togetherness, family, selflessness. Yet, it wasn’t until mass advertising became commonplace in the 20th century – in the form of billboards, print media, radio and, later on, television – that the idea of Christmas as a time for giving gifts really took hold.

These days, from November into the new year, Christmas messaging dominates not only our TV screens and radio channels, but also our town and city centres in the form of Out-Of-Home (OOH) advertising and seasonal digital signage in stores. And whilst traditional Christmas light displays continue to light up shopping areas, the rise in digital signage and OOH advertising is adding extra festive spirit with bold video walls, eye-catching storefronts, dynamic visuals – and sometimes surprising interactive features.

So, let’s take a look at how some of the world’s most recognisable brands have injected enduring Christmas traditions with magical digital innovation in recent Christmases past.



Is there any international brand more synonymous with Christmas cheer than Coca-Cola? For years, this bubbly brown drink has not only been a festive symbol, but it has actually shaped the way we envision one of Christmas’s most recognisable characters.

Although numerous depictions of a ‘Father Christmas’ already existed, in 1937 Coca-Cola introduced the world to a version of Santa dressed in Coca-Cola red. With sparkling eyes, ruddy cheeks and a warm smile, this re-imagined Santa gave the drink a friendly face that has endured not only as a festive symbol for the brand, but as an instantly recognisable figure in popular culture.


Whilst Coca-Cola’s Santa traditionally made himself at home on the side of lorries and print adverts, in recent years the brand has taken him into the 21st century, featuring the red-clad character on digital billboards and interactive displays.

In 2018, Coca-Cola was on a mission to paint Dublin red with a dynamic DOOH advertising campaign. A large billboard was placed in the city centre, displaying a real-time clock counting down the days, hours, minutes and seconds until Christmas Day. This created a childlike feeling of anticipation for shoppers as they flocked to the city to prepare for the big day.


Nothing says Christmas like some sparkle. So, it’s hardly surprising that jewellery brand Swarovski has often included imagery of twinkling lights and the festive star in its Christmas advertising throughout the years.

Yet, back in 2017, Swarovski made an innovative change when they created interactive billboards that were conveniently placed in shopping malls throughout Australia. The built-in app provided a catalogue of the brand’s gift products, allowing shoppers to create a Christmas wish list out of Swarovski products, there and then.

Even better, people could then choose to have their completed lists sent to them, or to their family and friends, in the form of an email or SMS.

Because the ‘wish list’ format was reminiscent of browsing traditional Christmas gift guides, Swarovski’s innovative use of DOOH sparked festive nostalgia for shoppers whilst giving them a refreshingly modern buying experience.



Each year, the Tsim Sha Tsui road in Hong Kong closes to traffic for Christmas and New Year’s Eve.


In 2016, telecommunications company Huawei took advantage of the increased footfall to throw a festive party to launch their Mate 9 and Mate 9 Pro smartphones.

To pedestrians’ delight, the four bus shelters along the street shot bursts of fake snow into the air, giving the subtropical city a rare winter feel. To add to the Christmas spirit, people could enjoy free gifts and food distributed by the brand ambassadors. Digital panels were added to the bus shelters so that the public could take photos and print them out on the spot, as well as being potentially featured on Huawei’s Instagram feed with the hashtag #DreamItPossible1617.

Finally, on Christmas Eve, a countdown on a digital billboard gathered crowds to celebrate the holidays together. Taking a classic Christmas sentiment – togetherness and community – and turning it into an interactive digital experience, Huawei showed how tradition and innovation can combine to create true Christmas magic.



For many people, the Christmas season is synonymous with excess; the dazzling lights, the mountains of gifts, and lots of indulging in rich foods.

Yet, for their Christmas menu campaign, McDonalds inverted this idea with minimal and modern OOH digital adverts featured on bus stops across the UK.

Taking traditional, instantly familiar symbols of Christmas such as reindeers and Santa, and pairing them with McDonald’s equally recognisable menu items, they created powerful adverts without flashing lights, bright colours or even a call for action.

This bold use of festive imagery sparks curiosity and humour and shows how, even during the excesses of Christmas time, simplicity can prove powerful in the world of advertising.


The Takeaway
As we can see, advertising innovation at Christmas time doesn’t necessitate a break from the traditional images and sentiments of this magical time of year. In fact, many of the most successful modern OOH advertising campaigns pair cutting-edge technology with the warm-hearted sentiments of the season, fostering ideas of togetherness, the childlike anticipation of counting down, and the fuzzy feeling that comes with giving thoughtful gifts.


Tradition, Innovation and Merson
At Merson, combining tradition with innovation is at the core of all we do. From design to creation to fitting, we can install static and digital signage that gets your brand noticed and tells its unique story, not just at Christmastime but all year round. To learn more about our services, contact us at or visit us at