Barneys New York Holiday Madison Windows 2

Are Christmas Window Displays the Original Activation?


For those of us in retail, it’s the biggest time of the year. Where shoppers come out in their droves to spend more than their bank balances can carry. From a festive perspective however, the annual voyage to see the notable Christmas Window Displays at all the major retailers is a trip made time and time again. Each year, more creative or elaborate than the last, we see brands bring their take on holiday magic to the consumers, bringing an added layer of value over the traditional transaction.

One of the first notable holiday window displays was by Macy’s New York in 1874, featuring a collection of porcelain dolls and scenes from Harriet Beecher Stowe’s “Uncle Tom’s Cabin.” However, it was a number of years later in the early 1900s that saw the fruition of window displays across the United States. In 1938, Lord & Taylor created a display championing creativity over product with items for sale swinging in sync with the sound of bells, and from there the concept of creative window displays was born.

This concept of creating a destination for consumers to enjoy rather than just explore has flourished with brand activations, events and collaborations becoming the cornerstone of many modern marketing campaigns. With this in mind, it’s not surprising that the now traditional concept of creating beautiful window campaigns is moving past the aesthetics. While “holiday magic” is still very much the main theme amongst retailers, we see brands emerging with a social message as well as a festive wish. A strong example is Barneys New York window campaign this year, Make Change. In partnership with charity Save the Children, Barney’s message is that even small change can have a big impact – all starting with a coin.

With Make Change, we challenged ourselves to rethink our approach to our creative elements,” said Matthew Mazzucca, Creative Director, Barneys New York. “By starting with the concept of a coin, which can seem small in the luxury world, we’ve created engaging experiences that show that small changes can make a big difference and invite our customers to participate in the power of change.”

Barneys are also encouraging consumers to go viral with the hashtags #centiments, encouraging shoppers to post their stories of compassion and change with hashtag iterations such as “centsational”, “centsitive”, and and “centilating”.

In this modern sharing economy, where brands are seen to be slowing down rather than speeding up, where origin and ethics are stepping in to the spotlight, is Barneys just the first of many that are using the pull of their holiday window display to push their social agenda? Obviously, the concept of brands aligning themselves with a social cause is not new, but will the Christmas window display platform which has always been reserved for festival creativity now make room for the message over the magic?

2018’s Christmas Window Displays have been truly magical this year, check out some of our favourites here.


Laura Coggles

Can we help you with your next project?

News and Projects