The Big Christmas Press Show lays on festive fun for influencers and media

Published on: 15th September 2023

The Big Christmas Press Show is perfectly timed to provide brands and retailers with an opportunity to showcase their products ahead of the crucial Christmas shopping season.

The Big Christmas Press Show 2023, held on Wednesday 13th September at the Business Design Centre in Islington, was kicked off with the much-anticipated unveiling of 33 The Big Christmas Wishlist award winners. The awards were introduced this year in response to requests by journalists and the retail community. The winners were chosen by an independent panel of judges comprising a range of perspectives from TV and broadcast, business, social influence and consumer expertise, who sifted through entries across 11 gift categories. Three winners were selected in each, with the most popular one given the coveted Judges’ Pick title.

The esteemed panel included renowned TV personalities such as Ruth Langsford, Vogue Williams, Spencer Matthews, Simon Webbe, Kathyrn Burn, ITV This Morning’s Coupon Queen, Holly Jay-Smith and more.

“The Big Christmas Wishlist represents some of the very best products showcased at The Big Christmas Press Show,” said CIJ Group founder, Courtney Rogers. “We are thrilled to witness the outcome of the first ever Wishlist Awards. The awards not only recognise outstanding products but also serve as the ultimate gift guide for the festive season, just in time for retail’s golden quarter.”

A number of toys and games companies were recognised in the awards, including:

  • Big Potato Games – Get the Ick (Budget Friendly and Judges’ Pick), Block Party (For The Kids)
  • Ravensburger – Christmas Market 1,000-piece puzzle (Budget Friendly)
  • Just Play – Disney’s Frozen II Elsa and Anna Styling Heads (For The Kids and Judges’ Pick)
  • Asmodee – Bunny Hops! (For The Big Kids)
  • Wilton Bradley – Mi-Mic Live (Tech & Gadget)
  • The Noble Collection – Jurassic Park Chess Set (For The Big Kids)

A handy infographic showing all the winners and Judges’ Picks can be seen here, while a gallery of the toys and games winners is below.

Following the awards, it was time to network, show off product, enjoy a glass of bubbly at the champagne bar and nibble on a mince pie or cheeseboard while browsing the stands. This year’s The Big Christmas Press Show exhibitors had gone all out to create a sense of theatre and wonderment; the Pokémon stand was laid out like a cosy cabin, complete with a roaring (fake) fire and comfy sofas, while Ravensburger’s Disney Lorcana stand invited influencers to become one of the new trading cards in the photo booth, get an autograph from one of the artists, and even play the game against an expert (Toy World editor Rachael Simpson-Jones won her game resoundingly, so we assume the experts were being kind).

On the KAP Toys stand, meanwhile, visitors could become Beano characters thanks to Beano artist Nigel Parkinson, who was on hand throughout the day drawing bespoke cartoons to celebrate KAP’s newly inked licensing deal.

Jo Shapley, senior marketing manager at Asmodee, told Toy World that the show has been ‘absolutely fantastic’, and that her team had been left very impressed with the quality of visitors to the stand. “Most of them really wanted to play Dobble Connect, which is essentially next-level Dobble for older kids. Everyone spotted that straight away and was really keen to find out more about it.”

For John Adam’s Marketing and PR executive, Bradley Wilson, The Big Christmas Press Show presents a ‘lovely way to connect with the media’. He and his colleague Abbie Duncan, senior account manager, had been kept busy all day demonstrating the company’s fast and fun new game, Smash Down, and Feisty Pets, which – face to face – created some hilarious reactions among attendees.

Big Potato, which won two Big Christmas Wishlist awards and a Judges’ Pick, told Toy World the day had raced by, so busy was the stand. One of the team’s visitors was Loose Women’s Ruth Langsford, who’d championed Get the Ick while judging and was keen to share the big news with Becky McKinlay, head of Global Marketing.

Becky said: “We’re getting better and better at picking which games to bring to events, in terms of price point, demographic, number of players etc. And we think we got it right this time, judging by the feedback from the influencers and press representatives that have taken the time to come and see us.”

There was also plenty of feedback from exhibitors noting the general high calibre of this year’s chosen guests. CIJ Group, which organised the event, had raised the minimum influencer follower number to 20,000 for the 2023 show, resulting in what was generally seen as a better quality of attendee. Hollie Jay-Smith (@hollievlogsofficial, 570,000 followers) was spotted, as was Lad Baby (@ladbabyofficial, 3.6m followers) – though considering he’s 6 foot 8 inches tall and was wearing a Christmas-themed suit, we’re not sure how anyone could have missed him. Reporters from numerous press outlets were also there, including an ITV regional film crew that spent some time with Lesley Singleton at Playtime PR, among others.

“Everyone has such a big smile on their face,” said Fleur Price, account director at CIJ Group. “The feedback we’ve heard has been nothing but positive, and everyone has appeared really happy with the quality of journalists and influencers visiting their stands. We put our heart and soul into The Big Christmas Press Show and quality is what we’re all about. We’ve upped the influencer entry requirements for this year, which has been a very popular decision, and we know there are lots of irons in various fires for the coming weeks in terms of coverage, gift guides and social media posts. It’s been a great event.”


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