December 7th, 2016

Written by:
Daisy Rogers

The battle of the Christmas ad

The Christmas advert, once belonging to Coca-Cola has now seen it turn into a battle ground of festive advertising. The Christmas period is the most important time of year for most brands and retailers. An opportunity to push their brand to the front of the consumer’s mind before they even set foot out of the door. All competing to be the chosen brand to prise open your purse strings. So is it any wonder that brands have stepped up their efforts, making it game-on when it comes to advertising?

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This year the extreme competition has become more evident than ever, highlighted by the flurry of advertising to hit consumers, not to mention the money spent on it – with Christmas advertising expected to cost UK companies around £5.6bn.

So with that amount of money being spent, which ones have got us in the mood for mince pies and mulled wine?

John Lewis:

It is no longer Coca-Cola that marks the beginning of the Christmas season, John Lewis has firmly taken over this title, now being the most anticipated advert of the year.

This year, it did have a mixed response. I know for me, I was all over this advert, I mean what’s not to love, a dog on a trampoline – brilliant! However, many were missing that ‘pull on your heartstrings’, tear-jerking factor. After the unexpected political events of this year, I think moving away from their predictable format and focusing on something a little more lighthearted is just what we needed. So I say embrace that bouncing badger and boxer.


Marks and Spencer:

M&S is back with a bang and a Christmas ad rival again.

Move over Mr Claus, M&S introduces the tale of Mrs Claus; the new stylish, sassy, helicopter-flying, mince-pie-gorging Christmas heroine.

Turning its attention to targeting its core consumer again, this lavish Christmas campaign is a testament to all the women that run the show and produce an amazing Christmas for all of us year-on-year. I think we all know that feeling of opening presents from your mum ‘and dad’ and your dad’s face is definitely seeing the present for the first time as well as you. So this advert is a salute to all those super women out there, pulling on the heartstrings and reminding us Christmas and gifting are about thoughtfulness and sharing with the ones we love at this time of year.

Although I have enjoyed some of the more cynical points of views, accusing Mrs Claus of being attention-seeking and trying to steal the limelight from Mr Claus, in a very expensive and polluting manner. But I am of course choosing to ignore this view point – let’s see if they can keep up their new and improved Christmas game for next year.


Burberry:

The phenomena of Christmas adverts is seeing retailers increasingly investing in fantastical short films with Hollywood style sets – and budgets to match, with Burberry’s Christmas campaign not falling short of this. Taking luxury to the next level and pulling out all the stops, Burberry celebrates its 160th anniversary with a lavish, cinematic take on the life of Thomas Burberry, the company’s founder. (Find out more about the fashion house here).

Written by Academy Award-nominated Matt Charman, directed by Academy Award-winning Asif Kapadia and featuring an all star cast including Domhnall Gleeson, Sienna Miller, Dominic West and Lily James, is it any wonder they spent an eye-watering £10m on this three and a half minute film?

Although not the most obviously festive, this visually stunning short film subtly showcases the craftsmanship and heritage of this famous fashion house. Like a trailer for a film, I don’t know about anyone else but I am waiting in anticipation for this to be made into the next Hollywood blockbuster.


Sainsburys:

Sainsbury’s have made a name for themselves over the past few years with their memorable WW1 ad in partnership with The Royal British Legion, to Mog the Cat, and this year does not disappoint with the memorable factor. But unfortunately I wouldn’t say it’s necessarily for all the right reasons.

Although I may not be the biggest fan of this ad, even I have to admit there are some flashes of gold. With my particular favourites featuring the twerking manager at the Christmas party, to the all too familiar delays on trains – I’m sorry southern rail passengers.

However my main dislike for this ad is the horrendously annoying song that runs alongside it, but saying this, this is the exact factor that makes the advert so successful. Just look at the success results from Gio Compario for GoCompare, it sticks in the mind, and works. You can’t deny that a good old sing-a-long doesn’t go a long way. Do you find yourself humming the tune with James Corden’s voice singing in your head? If so, it’s worked, it’s had its desired effect.


Heathrow:

An unlikely new one to join the battle of the Christmas adverts, but not one to be dismissed. This Heathrow ad is one hell of a serious contender, with many even saying it’s the poignant Christmas ad that they have missed from John Lewis this year.

This heartwarming ad sees two much-loved and ageing teddy bears make their way through arrivals and come home for Christmas. From going through border control – who knew they could smile? – to reclaiming their baggage. Before capturing that all important moment of being reunited with their loved ones for Christmas.

The first major Christmas advert from Heathrow, cynics have pointed to the fact Heathrow is currently looking to win over hearts and minds as it battles opposition to a third runway – I’m not saying anything.

Either way, Heathrow have produced a heartwarmingly, excellent Christmas advert, throwing you back to your childhood and bringing it back to the main message, being at home with your family at Christmas time. I’d love this to be just the beginning, and maybe we’ll see the teddies jet-setting off on a trip to Hawaii for their January campaign?


Alzheimer’s Research UK:

If you were left feeling gloomy by last year’s John Lewis Christmas advertisement – remember the lonely old man on the moon – then you might want to look away now. The crown for the most emotional, tear-jerking ad goes to Alzheimer’s Research UK.

Animated by Aardman Animations (think Wallace and Gromit), and voiced by Stephen Fry, this story tells the tale of the implications of Father Christmas suffering from dementia. A poignant message highlighting how dementia doesn’t discriminate – it doesn’t matter how rich or poor, big or small or clever you are, it can affect any one of us, even Father Christmas.

This particularly hard-hitting advert comes days after statistics were released revealing that dementia and Alzheimer’s disease are now the leading cause of death in England and Wales. So I know it may not be the most uplifting of adverts but I think this advert is key in raising public awareness, whilst harnessing it onto a Christmas advert, the adverts that the public take most notice of.


H&M

When you think of Christmas adverts, there is one brand that does not immediately pop to mind, but H&M have changed that. This year delivering a Christmas cracker of an ad that is not to be forgotten.

Producing a four-minute short film, H&M have used none other than cult film director, Wes Anderson. In true Anderson style, the ad differentiates itself from any other Christmas ad. In his instantly recognisable aesthetic, the ad features a vintage-inspired set, symmetrical compositions, tracked camera shots, and a familiar and distinctive soundtrack. 

With the actual clothing taking a back seat in this film, Anderson’s trademark, unmistakable, eccentricity takes centre stage – what else would you expect? 


Each year we see brands step up their Christmas ad game and this year has certainly been no exception. Ultimately regardless of whether you love or hate these Christmas adverts, and whether they increase sales or not, what they do accomplish is getting us talking about them. And like our previous post here, if they’re good enough they’ll be spoken about beyond this Christmas and every year after that.

So who has won that oh so sparkly crown for Christmas advertising? I’ll leave that up to you to decide.

 

 

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