Through research, Starbucks unlocked a key insight through research and identified the key event that people associate with the launch of the holiday season –tree lightings. They learned that tree lightings bring people together, spark the excitement of the season and ignite holiday emotions like no other. It seemed natural to celebrate with the biggest tree lighting ever. For the last two years, Toronto’s iconic Eaton Center has been the marquee destination for crowds all over the GTA, with the tallest tree in Canada and a lighting ceremony that truly kicks off all the magic the season has to offer.

Based on this insight, Starbucks developed the strategy to “Unlock Moments of Holiday Magic” and became the first brand in Canada to present the tree lighting ceremony and bring a moment of magic to Torontonians to kick off the holiday season.

The agency (Spark Foundry) collaborated directly with Cadillac Fairview to heighten the annual tree lighting and truly “unlock moments of holiday magic”. The 2018 lighting celebration featured a fully immersive experience that put Starbucks at the centre of the magic. The event featured a new interactive and a highly visual experience powered by LED technology wristbands that were handed out to all attendees so they could engage with the host, well-known Canadian celebrity Kardinal Offishall.

On the day of the event, Starbucks took over all the digital directories in the mall and two high impact screens in the heart of Toronto’s Yonge & Dundas square for maximum media exposure and attendance of the event. The brand also engaged with attendees with a first-to-market local social media filters placed strategically across the mall next to seasonal ornaments and décor prompting people to “unlock the magic” and share via their social handles – to spread the magic.

To fulfill on broader Starbucks on-going sustainment goals – they encouraged the attendees to be mindful of waste and recycle their LED bracelets. The first 5K guests to recycle their LED wristbands were given a reusable RED holiday Starbucks cup with a special holiday offer inside 


    • High single digit lift in sales
    • 14,500 attendees between 6-7pm
    • 14% increase from 2017
    • 3,521 wristbands recycled (80% more than other CF Tree Lighting Events)
    • 165,000 individuals at CF Toronto Eaton Centre  on Thursday November 15
    • 660,000 individuals at CF Toronto Eaton Centre  Nov 12 -15
    • 13.8M Media Impressions around the CF TEC Tree Lighting event
    • Reach of 2.5M impressions across Facebook and  lnstagram (150% increase from 2017)
    • 11,600 Guest Responses with a reach of 437,000  (26% increase from 2017)
    • 39,825 total engagements on CF Tree Lighting Presented by Starbucks content
    • Over 595K impressions across YDS/TEC digital network, including AOB 1 & 2, Bay/Dundas screen & TEC Digital Directories.
    • Scaled National program being explored for 2019

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