There’s nothing quite like Christmas in New York City. Each year, tourists crowd city streets, eyes wide under glowing Christmas lights that line Midtown’s parks and avenues.
Madison Sqaure Park, sitting across from the iconic Flatiron Building, is no exception. For the last four years, this quaint city greenspace has been home to Gingerbread Boulevard – Taste of Home‘s immersive holiday experience powered by the latest trends in marketing and technology.
“We know every year it will get a big draw,” Joe Losardo, Exec. Brand Director, Taste of Home, said. “It’s really about evolution, and I think that’s what works for the experience.”
Gingerbread Boulevard has seen several evolutions since its first holiday season. In its second year, participants were invited to take a peek inside of several small “gingerbread” homes using VR headsets. The attraction has since evolved into one, full-sized gingerbread home, complete with a “frosted” roof and “candy” adornments. Visitors are invited to take photos outside the house, and are asked to share their experiences on social media with branded hashtags and fun Snapchat filters.
Once inside, they’re welcomed by sweet gingerbread smells and sensory cues as they follow along on a 4D adventure with Taste of Home’s gingerbread man, told through animation on 360-degree LED screens and accompanied by live display.
Folgers, who has partnered with Taste of Home for the last several years, plays a role in the storytelling too, incorporating their “Share a Coffee, Share a Memory” campaign into the heart of the season.
“I look at it as a kind of integrated native storytelling,” Losardo said. “They know how people interact with their brand, and with the experience, so they want everything to be organic and true to the story.”
Taste of Home is also using Facebook to bring the experience online. For the first time, the experience will be incorporating will Facebook Live to broadcast a special show to their followers nationwide.
When looking for inspiration, Losardo says they turn to feedback from visitors to plan ahead for innovations that will capture the imagination of their audience.
“We look to feedback so we can give our visitors what they really want to see,” Losardo said. “We challenge ourselves every year to create a different experience every time.”
Gingerbread Boulevard opens to the public today and will run until Dec. 20.