CF Holiday Experience Strategy
How might we unveil Canada's Tallest Christmas Tree with the energy of the community?

Project Brief

In anticipation of the 2018 annual unveiling of Cadillac Fairview’s holiday decor, Gensler was engaged to identify the opportunities in their existing line-up to create new experiences and drive post-event retail sales.


We worked closely alongside their internal marketing and retained agency to benchmark against other holiday events of scale, identifying core guiding principles and goals for the experience. Three scalable concepts resulted based on these initial conversations.


Early planning concepts were refined, alongside technology and service implications, resulting in the piloting of a wearable RFID wristband experience, distributed in the week prior to unveiling and becoming a means of participation for the audience. The distribution of LED wristbands were aligned with social good initiatives and retail partnerships.

Creating a Participatory Holiday Unveiling

As the 3rd annual unveiling of the Eaton Centre's Christmas Tree Lighting, we worked with the team to identify areas of opportunity to differentiate and evolve the overall audience and visitor experience, with the overall goal of generating greater retail interaction pre- and post-event.

Through a benchmarking exercise, we moved forward with consulting on the integration of LED wristbands—a way of extending the tree lighting onto the wrists of the audience throughout the mall. Presented by Starbucks, the wristbands were distributed in the week leading up to the event, and through the ME to WE Foundation—acting as an invite to shoppers to Meet You There.

"The crowds have been incredible over the past two years and the energy has been absolutely electric. This year, we're building on that energy with even more interactive elements to allow community members to take part in the momentous lighting of the tallest tree in the city."

Sheila Jennings, General Manager, CF Toronto Eaton Centre

Benchmarking & Concept Design Report

The combined experiences, beyond the wristband addition in 2018, generated 13.8M media impressions around the Tree Lighting Event. Presented by Starbucks, 3,521 LED wristbands were recycled. (Source - Branded Cities)

The Holiday Experience Strategy noted other areas of opportunity, including activating Bell Trinity Square through photogenic and immersive lighting installations.