Brand Slam: Debenhams vs TK Maxx

With the retail sector under the spotlight in the run-up to Christmas, Campaign checks out the experiential activity of two high-street brands.


Event structure

The department store has staged activations themed around its above-the-line campaigns; this year's was created by Mother. It has also worked in partnership with beauty brands and fashion designers.

Social footprint

@Debenhams attracts 210,000 followers, with a similar number (212,000) for its Instagram feed. Its Facebook page has just under 560,000 "likes".

Recent campaigns

Debenhams' 2017 Christmas activity brought the brand's Cinderella-inspired "You shall" campaign to life in stores across the country to create a shopping experience. Stores had a makeover, featuring more than 326,500 metres of glitter ribbon, 242,500 baubles, 12,500 tree lights and 100,000 stars, tranforming stores into gittering Cinderella-themed ballrooms and window displays.

The retailer has also hosted make-up classes at its Oxford Street store in partnership with Estée Lauder, with its global make-up artist Laura Johnson guiding customers through artistry masterclasses.

Latest campaign

Debenhams has created an in-store Christmas market that capitalises on department store shopping, with the aim of getting people to enjoy the shopping experience and make physical shops a social destination. Curated gift choices are being displayed market-style, with Debenhams looking to imbue shoppers with Christmas spirit.

TK Maxx

Event structure

The retailer has based experiential campaigns on its above-the-line advertising, created by Wieden & Kennedy London. It has also worked with promotional agency Kommando and SK Events.

Social footprint

@TKMaxx_UK has 41,600 followers, its Instagram feed attracts 196,000 followers and its Facebook page has more than one million "likes".

Recent campaigns

The brand has previously partnered food guru and innovator Gizzi Erskine to launch #DuvetDining, a one-day exclusive pop-up dining experience. The event celebrated the launch of "Ridiculous possibilities", a campaign that aimed to bring to life the "delightfully different yet brilliant opportunities" made possible when shopping at TK Maxx. For its Christmas campaign last year, TK Maxx promised to deliver real snow to people who found snow globes hidden in its stores.

Latest campaign

TK Maxx's festive activation for 2018 encourages shoppers to visit its stores across Europe and search for bespoke stockings hidden on shelves. Lucky "finders" will have year-round gifts delivered or they can choose to donate their prizes to family and friends. The activation mirrors the retailer's above-the-line campaign.

Campaign says

Debenhams has scaled back its investment for in-store activities. While its Christmas market-style activation may entice shoppers back into its stores, it lacks the inventiveness and fun element that TK Maxx brings to its stocking challenge.

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