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Special Project

Special Project
From the 8th Annual Shorty Awards

Marks & Spencer Pass the Parcel

Entered in Multi-Platform Campaign


We set our objectives to increase traffic and repeat visits to M&, to galvanise a growth of footfall into store and to increase basket value for customers who interacted with our campaign.

Known as 'Pass the Parcel', our campaign gamified a daily interaction with the brand online. Requiring a playfully habitual swipe action or 'unwrap', customers had five unwraps a day leading to many tiers of possible prizes – from discounts to money off online, specialty Christmas hampers or £500 gift cards.

Our shareable digital game was designed as the super-charged social media extension of the M&S Christmas brand campaign. In the past, Pass the Parcel has been implemented as a Facebook application but for 2015, we rebuilt it completely. This allowed us to open it up as a fully responsive microsite that acted like an iOS or Android app on mobile but didn't require any time-consuming downloading and also worked seamlessly on desktop.

Our overall goal was to present a fun and inclusive customer-brand interaction to prelude Christmas with positive brand-building sentiment around M&S. This was driven by customers sharing our campaign link digitally, customers claiming prizes in store or online and customers driving a conversation about their success across social channels.

The game was made playable over six days in December, closing a week before Christmas. The timing was deliberately convenient for Christmas shoppers – offering a seasonal gift to our customers and making their overall journey extra special.

Strategy and Execution

From marketing perspective, our Pass the Parcel strategy was grounded in existing customer behaviour. Its intuitive playfulness is based on a nostalgic family game re-imagining a cherished British tradition digitally, while minimising the friction of explaining rules and educating customers about something new. It was also created in synergy with our overall M& strategy – giving 60 seconds of distraction every day that offers inspirational or escapist value and drives customers to return.

Our new Pass the Parcel game dramatically increased customers' potential to win, with over 200,000 prizes on offer – giving as many customers as possible a rewarding experience that they'd be encouraged to share.

Extra initiatives included the chance to win extra unwraps. Every registered user received five free daily unwraps that refreshed once a day, but you could unlock more by sharing. For every friend that played the game using your unique link, you'd get extra unwraps that were valid for the duration of the game – the more unwraps the better your chances for winning.

The key feature was the functionality of a 'Tinder app for giving' although the mechanics behind it were far more complex than the wistfully easy-to-play user experience.

Implementation was as a fully responsive mobile-first micro-site. The same experience on every device meant you could play it with your kids on an iPad over breakfast as much as you could get unwrapping on your morning commute – game visits peaked at 11am on Saturday morning.

We leveraged our Sparks (M&S loyalty programme) top tier customers to launch the game. They're highly engaged with the brand and galvanised swift uptake across digital communities – 280K Sparks customers registered within minutes of launching the game. Our first communication about Pass the Parcel accordingly went to these customers who could start sharing the link with friends and building positive sentiment immediately.

We optimised the game for organic growth. Everyone who registered was given a chance to share the Pass the Parcel link at the close of each play, with over 700k passes between friends completed. If this was acted upon, the customer would be further rewarded with extra unwraps – a win-win strategy.

To ensure the user experience was seamless Pass the Parcel required constant monitoring. The marketing team adjusted media spend carefully to keep the traffic as consistent as possible and at one point were handling a massive 65 unwraps per second.

It was imperative to the game strategy that Pass the Parcel was stable. We aligned the loyalty of returning gamers with the trust of loyal customers across the business – delivering on our M&S promise and striving to deliver a killer customer experience across all channels.


Analysis via SiteCatalyst showed that referrals to M& from Pass the Parcel had an impact on conversion – an overall uplift of nearly 8% during the campaign. Brand mentions were tripled compared to our weekly average and sentiment around the game was tracked between 94-97% positive also. By the close of the campaign, we saw 74% user return rate. Over 1.3m registers resulted in almost 5.8m visits – highlighting deep user engagement and success in creating customer habit.

Redemption of prizes in store meant a notable spike in footfall of nearly 15K additional customers coming through the doors.

Customer sentiment scores across social channels were exceptionally high from a brand-building, engagement and customer journey point of view – whether they won or not. A selection of customer quotes is included in the images.


Entrant Company / Organization Name

Marks & Spencer

Entry Credits