What started as a precession of Farmers’ staff, family and friends ending at the retailers Hobson Street flagship store, has in the last 84 years evolved into an event with over 100,000 attendees and over 45,000 online viewers.
Looking at its total spectators, 81 percent are from Auckland, eight percent are from the rest of New Zealand and 11 percent are from offshore.
It’s also now run by the charitable Auckland Children’s Christmas Parade Trust with the Farmers retail group a trustee of it and the naming rights sponsor. This has opened the door for brands to get involved as sponsors.
“In the early parade days, all the floats were Farmers entries and all the people in the parade were staff and family of the store,” says Pam Glaser, the parade general manager.
“Nowadays we have opened the parade to have brands and companies involved as well and anyone can put up their hand to be a parade volunteer.”
Glaser works with brands sponsoring the parade and like any other campaigns being invested in, brands are able to identify what they want to achieve and how they want to achieve that.
“We ask sponsors ‘how would you like to leverage the parade?’ and they give us their wish lists.”
These wish lists can include a variety of involvements, such as sponsoring a float or inflatables, having a fantasy vehicle, a character/walking group or setting up an activation in the disadvantaged children’s area. There are also four premium sponsorships available for brand placement on Parade day as well as advertising on NZME and a ‘money-can’t buy’ corporate grandstand to fill with guests.
Each year there are over 200 items in the parade, including 37 fantasy floats.
“Some companies have their own floats that depict their product, some companies have character costumes and others come to our warehouse and find a float that can work with their product. After a few tweaks and addition of branding, it becomes their own,” says Glaser.
For those who don’t want a float, walking groups are a fun way to be involved and also allow the brands to interact with attendees watching from the sideline behind a blue line.
Those attendees are also armed with 50,000 flags to be waved at Santa – opening another opportunity for a sponsor to get involved.
Glaser says having staff involved on the day is a great team building and bonding experience as everyone is coming together to do something magic.
She gives Barfoot & Thompson as an example of a brand for which this works well, as its director, Peter Thompson, shows up on Parade day, dressed and ready to participate.
Barfoot & Thompson has been involved in the parade for years, so much so a property-themed float was built for it years ago, featuring a gingerbread house with the Brand logo on top.
Throughout the year, the float is looked after by Auckland Children’s Christmas Parade Trust so there is little maintenance for the brand to worry about.
Alongside the float, Barfoot & Thompson staff and their children are dressed in costumes and to further boost its brand presence, and it gives away tickets to a VIP area through a colouring-in competition run through the property press.
Speaking about its involvement in the Farmers Santa Parade, Barfoot & Thompson says it’s the happiest of all the events it sponsors.
“It gives us a great opportunity to involve our staff and their children. There is nothing better than putting a smile on the face of so many Aucklanders. The team behind the event is so wonderful to deal with and they keep delivering great customer service and a top quality event.”
And that event isn’t just the parade. On Parade day there are pre-parade opportunities for brands to leverage as well as the following Santa’s Party for further audience engagement.
Pre-parade activities include on-route product sampling, pre-parade entertainment of the crowd along the parade route, pre-parade entertainment at Aotea Square.
And following the parade, at Santa’s Party in Aotea Square, sponsors can have a physical stall, roaming product sampling and giveaways, character meet and greets, and stage show entertainment. Each year, 10,000 visitors attend the celebration.
Another brand sponsoring the parade is Bollywood station HummFM, which this year will be ticking off its third year in the parade. It takes part with a float supported by Bollywood dancers walking alongside it.
Roshila Prasad, HummFM director, says it’s a young and peppy station with a target audience of 18 to 45 that matches the vibrant parade event that brings together all ages.
On top of that, it’s a great lead up to HummFM’s 55 Hour Radiothon supporting Christmas for Kids, that sees listeners come to the station to donate brand new toys which is all donated to New Zealand Salvation Army.
As well as the parade being a great way for HummFM to lead into its own festivities, with Christmas being a time of joy and excitement for many, it’s a great way for the brand to be associated with that vibe.
“I feel our brand is a good fit as Christmas is a time to rejoice and spread happiness.
“The energy, sound, colour, vibrancy and atmosphere cannot be promoted via a print ad.”
She adds that with the station’s mission being to help migrant listeners integrate into the Kiwi lifestyle, via music, information and events, it promotes the parade to the Indian Diaspora so that they can come and enjoy the parade.
Considering the benefit for a brand to be associated with a joyous celebration, Mark Pickering, director and creative strategist at Brand Spanking and chair of PREScom (PR, Experiential and Social Media Committee), explains attendees of events are in a more excited state, meaning brand activations will touch them in a more engaging and effective way.
These memories live significantly longer than a 30-second TVC he says.
“The benefit of choosing an event that meets your target market requirements is that you target your audience directly, whether it be families and household shoppers for the Santa Parade or millennials at a music festival, you are able to bring audience and event insights to bear to create a more memorable engagement with the consumer and drive longer-term behavioural outcomes.”
And with Christmas being a time for families to share experiences and create memories, it makes the Farmers Santa Parade one of the key family events on the calendar.
It also satisfies people’s love of experiences as Pickering explains we live in an ‘experience economy’ in which people are spending less on consumer items and more on status-making experiences to share with friends on social media.
“People want to show that they are doing cool things and are driven to get out and experience the world.”
And with over 200,000 people were reached by the parade’s Facebook event, it’s no surprise HummFM’s Prasad encourages other brands to get involved.
“I feel the Farmers Santa Parade is an iconic parade and one would have had to be living under a rock to not know about it, I would definitely recommend it.”
To find out more about how your business can be involved with the Farmers Santa Parade in its 85th year, or how to volunteer on the day, contact:
Farmers Santa Parade
Mobile: 0274 599 634
Or visit: www.santaparade.co.nz/join-the-parade/