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Thursday 11th December 2014

What we can learn from the battle of the Christmas ads

Advertising at Christmas is nothing new and Coca Cola most certainly set the precedent back in 1931 with its first festive advert featuring a ‘red’ Santa Claus.

But in recent years (maybe we’re just paying more attention these days) Britain’s top retailers have stepped up their game and are producing some of the year’s most popular and most watched adverts to promote their festive products.

The most common formula is reasonably simple: tell a story, involve children, possibly pets and definitely snow. And, when it comes to the soundtrack, get a current recording artist to cover an old heart-wrencher in a slow and even more emotional style (two of the most famous examples are here and here).

This year’s two most popular festive ads are John Lewis’ Monty the Penguin and the Sainsbury’s advert made in partnership with the Royal British Legion. They are quite different, the John Lewis effort follows a young boy and his pet penguin and the Sainsbury’s piece is a nod to the much admired and discussed Christmas truce of the First World War. Everyone has their favourite and there have been, although a little less memorable, sterling efforts from M & S, Morrisons and Lidl.

One thing we have noticed – especially in the most popular ads – is that in these spectacular festive videos you don’t have to push your products exhaustively. Sainsbury’s are selling the chocolate which appears at the end of its advert and John Lewis have been pushing Monty the Penguin replicas, which, unsurprisingly, have already sold out in most stores.

Now, while we’re not advising you to omit your actual products from any future advertising, these examples show the power of focusing on one product and indeed the success of incorporating your product into a story/narrative.

Another thing which has been particularly prevalent this year is the anticipation and hysteria surrounding the Xmas ads. People now make their way on to YouTube to watch adverts – what a result for the advertisers.

This new found love for quality adverts among the public shows that if yours is interesting, engaging and tells a story there are now people out there who will actively go out of their way to watch it.    

Some food for thought over the festive period while thinking about next year’s campaigns…

For any advice on advertising or branding, please get in touch on: 0845 075 0152 or team@angelsmedia.co.uk.