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37 CHRISTMAS


Christmas in the community


Events can be about more than just driving footfall. At thecentre:mk they help to cement the centre’s place in its community


charities, often incorporating fund-raisers with festive events and marketing activity. But as shoppers’ expectations become more and more sophisticated, shopping centre teams need to deliver bigger and better celebrations in order to attract those all important families and make an impact, as the team at thecentre:mk discovered. The centre hosted a new and improved


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version of its annual Christmas show in its 25,000-sq ft event and exhibition space, Middleton Hall. Attracting more than 1.8m


www.shopping-centre.co.uk


hristmas is the season of goodwill, presenting a great opportunity for shopping centres to give back to the community and support local


visitors in 2011, the management team sees it as a prime opportunity to give something back to the community, bringing in digital and interactive elements for the first time in a bid to heighten entertainment value for children and families and to encourage visitors to give more generously to a collection for a local charity. Last year’s concept ‘dream, wish, believe’ saw the mammoth space transformed - with the use of 39,000 baubles, 34,700 bulbs, 900m of LED rope-light and 145kg of scatter snow - into a whimsical, fantasy wonderland, centred on capturing the imagination of visitors young and old. Called The Land of Enchanted Dreams,


the narrative focused on fairies and pixies tasked with collecting and harvesting children’s dreams, while “cheeky goblins tried their best to steal the dreams and spoil the fun.” Touch-screen games aimed at cynical,


tech-savvy teenagers were introduced for the first time, as the centre’s marketing director, Melanie Beck explains: “We had baubles that people could climb into and others with computer games inside where you could have a snowball fight with Father Christmas. We felt we needed to get into the zone with the youngsters and interactivity was the best way to do that. Animation is fine for children under five but there needs to be more to touch and do for the older children. Once they’d finished the game, they could register online in order to post their score on the leaderboard. We got 2,000 email sign ups - it was massively successful.” Beck was keen to utilise Facebook and Twitter. The team deliberately held back


FEBRUARY 2013 SHOPPING CENTRE


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