Sponsored feature

Splendid - Marmite Oxford Street Christmas Lights

Marmite was sponsoring the Oxford Street Christmas Lights and Splendid's brief was to amplify the sponsorship using social media to engage a national audience, not just those in London. Specific targets on Facebook were to grow likes by 5.5% (a net increase of 50,000) and to double virality of posts from 3% to 6%. On Twitter, our goal was to increase followers by 9.6% (2,000 followers).


It was important to minimise the risk of negative publicity that often surrounds such sponsorships and the perceived commercialisation of Christmas.

Strategy & tactics:

A brand sponsoring the Christmas lights is not a new thing and is something that has in the past provoked a negative reaction from consumers and media.  Our strategy was to differentiate from previous years and ensure support for the Marmite sponsorship by adding a consumer participation mechanic to the Christmas Lights for the first time ever. And in true Marmite style, both lovers and haters were embraced!

Get your face in the lights: We developed a Facebook app that enabled people to submit a photo of themselves which was uploaded to a special screen within the lights.  They then received a photograph of their face captured in the lights to share on their own social media channels. 

Lights sponsorship announcement: We announced the sponsorship, then revealed Robbie Williams as the Switch-On celebrity, on Marmite social channels. In another first, a ‘superfan’ competition on Facebook allowed a member of the public to take to the stage with Robbie and be part of the Switch-On.

Switch-On: As the lights were switched on, Splendid activated the app and Robbie Williams’ face shone out from the lights. This served as the call to action for consumers to get their Marmite-inspired moment of Christmas fame. 

Switch-Off: In a special Marmite twist, members of the brand’s ‘Hate’ Facebook community were given the power to decide if the lights should be switched off early. Every 100 likes of a ‘Switch-Off’ post, ensured that the lights would turn off an hour earlier. 

Media and Influencer outreach: Splendid approached celebrities with a high Twitter following to have their face uploaded to the lights to increase engagement and reach. In addition, our media relations activities amplified all elements of the campaign across print, online and broadcast media.


Engagement in the app and impact on Facebook and Twitter engagement:

  • 4,310 people uploaded their face into the lights
  • 77,246 new Facebook fans were secured, beating the target of 50,000
  • Virality of posts on Facebook increased to an average of 10%, again exceeding our target of 6% and this was primarily driven by the strategy of celebrating images of fans on our page
  • 4,606 new Twitter followers were secured, double the target of 2,000
  • Twitter impressions over the three month period increased to 24.3 million from 11.7million in the previous three months
  • There was a total of 20,302 mentions of @Marmite on Twitter over the three month campaign, an 83% increase on the previous three month period

Influencer and media outreach: Splendid secured 15 celebrities to have their faces appear in the lights free of charge.  Subsequent tweets from these celebrities had a reach of nearly 14 million and ensured followers across the country were aware of the campaign. Celebrity highlights included some Twitter banter between Lord Alan Sugar and Piers Morgan, a number of Made In Chelsea  and TOWIE ‘stars’, along with presenters such as Richard Arnold, Lorraine Kelly and Chris Moyles as well as Derren Brown, Darren Gough and Olly Murs.

In total we secured 154 pieces of media coverage with an OTS of 236 million.  A highlight was Carol McGiffin discussing her face appearing in the lights on ITV’s Loose Women. We were delighted that all coverage was positive or neutral in sentiment.

Learnings/gems of wisdom

Celebrities were keen to get involved and for no fee have their face appear in the lights. If what you’re offering gives high profile influencers like celebrities an exciting image or asset to share with their Twitter followers, then don’t be shy about getting in touch and asking.

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