The days of it just being enough to park your kid on Santa’s lap and maybe pay for a pic appear to be fading as shopping malls in the U.S. – and no doubt elsewhere – are layering in technology to make the thing both experiential and branded. With it being sooo much easier to shop off a laptop or tablet and get it delivered, malls need to steadily create reasons why consumers will get in a vehicle and drive to the clogged lot of a mall.
The Macerich Santa HQ is branded as an HGTV (a home decor TV network) experience that has several zones, including areas where kids work with a screen to find out whether they’ve been naughty or nice, augmented reality using tablets, and a dancing elves thing that looks like it might be made by the JibJab guys.
“There are so many different ways to compete for peoples’ attention,” Kurt Ivey, vice president of marketing for Macerich, told USA Today. The virtual Santa HQ “gives us another added way to really make an impact and make it more relevant for today’s consumer.”
The overt sponsored thing seems a little much, but I suppose being concerned about over-commercialism during the holiday season got pointless years ago.
Dave Haynes is the founder and editor of Sixteen:Nine, an online publication that has followed the digital signage industry for some 14 years. Dave does strategic advisory consulting work for many end-users and vendors, and also writes for many of them. He’s based near Halifax, Nova Scotia, on Canada’s east coast.