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Posted by:
Kate Mistlin, Senior Account Executive
10th Nov 16

HO HO HOLIDAYS ARE DEFINITELY COMING: Festive ads have hit our screens

Buster

And so, another year has passed, another year of waiting in anticipation as to what will be the next Christmas ad to hit our screens and bring an array of different emotions out of us all. Retailer Christmas TV adverts have now become famous in their own right, consumers sit on the edge of their sofas in anticipation, waiting for perhaps a woman to join the lonely man on the moon and bring a flood of tears over the festive season. We live in a world where the wait to witness the TV adverts themselves, have almost (I say lightly) become more important that the actual event itself.

Once these iconic adverts hit our screens, the world knows it’s not long until Christmas will be slapping us in the face once more. What is prominent now is how the war of the best Christmas ad is a popularity contest and become like the brutal ‘Hunger Games’ – who will be the winners and losers of this epic battle?

Earlier this year I attended one of the PRCA’s Consumer Group events, ‘Getting the balance right – brand VS product communication – when to dial up rational and/or emotional messaging’ at the amazing Coca-Cola headquarters. It was hugely informative and hosted by our very own MD, Ruth Allchurch, who is also Chairman of the PRCA’s Consumer Group. This session immediately made me think of Christmas advertising and the fine line between emotional and rational.

What became clear was that the problem arises when the balance between rational and emotional is tipped, and emotional messaging gets too heavy. John Lewis has a number of products to showcase and therefore bringing in an emotional strategy to gain consumer trust is a clever route. The Snowman, the Hare and the Bear and Monty the Penguin were received brilliantly by audiences, however when 2015 came, ‘The Man on The Moon’ hit our screens. For many, this was a step too far, almost becoming too sad and losing its link entirely with the products on offer – unless you wanted a telescope!. This was one of the least popular Christmas adverts by John Lewis, with Sainsbury’s ‘Mog’s Christmas’ being deemed the most popular in terms of social interaction and talkabilty.

So….have the iconic brands learned this year from this, have they stayed on the same heart-wrenching route or changed course…DRUM ROLL PLEASE!… HURRAH! John Lewis has taken inspiration from previous years with Monty and The Hare and the Bear and brought loveable animals back to our screens with ‘Buster The Boxer’! I personally am so pleased to see that this year they have taken a much more light-hearted concept which instead of filling my eyes with tears, fills me with laughter and joy, whilst still keeping on the brand’s message. For me – ‘The Man on The Moon’ strayed too far away from the brands key messaging and offerings – pulling too hard on the heartstrings. Following the craze of consumers’ love for funny animal videos and memes (especially cute dogs e.g. pugs/sausage dogs and now Boxers…?) John Lewis has hit the insight nail on the head this year by tapping into a core cultural trend. I mean, who doesn’t want to watch a hedgehog, squirrel and some foxes hanging out on a trampoline!?

What’s more, the campaign is being supported with a wide variety of digital channels and experiences. In John Lewis’ flagship store on Oxford Street a virtual reality experience using Oculus Rift that lets you go inside the world of Buster and all his animal friends – there will also be 360® film experiences with Google Cardboard. For those who don’t have these at home, consumers can have the same experience through the John Lewis website or on their YouTube channel. John Lewis has also partnered with snapchat to create its very own Buster the boxer filter, which is on offer until midnight tonight.

For me – this is an absolute winner this year on every level.

So let’s take a look at what else is on offer this festive season. One which also catches my eye is the Morrisons ad which further demonstrates the brand’s clear point of difference by sticking to its authentic ‘Morrisons Makes It’ platform. This sees two ads focusing on real-life staff including butchers, bakers, greengrocers and wine specialists. The heart-warming ad showcases Christmas products such as turkey and mince pies whilst championing in-store expertise, showing how it can help fuel fun festive family moments. Choosing not to stick to just a one-off ad, the continuation of the ‘Morrisons Makes It’ story was of key importance in this campaign.

Other ads this year include Aldi’s animated carrot called Kevin, Argos has decided to stick some rainbow-coloured yetis in ice-skates (as you do) and Tesco and Asda appear to have had the same stance by creating a raft of separate ads. Debenhams new ‘Fabulous’ Christmas campaign showcases a number of celebrities voicing products such as a handbag, coffee machine and lingerie.

So in your view, who wins the battle of the Christmas ads this year? Don’t be sad that they’re already here, be happy that it’s only one more year of waiting till the next ones…

Kate Mistlin
Senior Account Executive

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