The Great British Christmas Ad

It’s that time of the year again, the nights are drawing in and the beer gardens are a distant memory. So, as we settle down to enjoy TV this festive season, we are hit with an onslaught of Christmas ads. From fire breathing dragons to heroic carrots, these adverts have high budgets and lavish productions, Christmas is an advertising event.

But what makes a great Christmas ad and how can they cut through all of the noise?

Kantar Millward Brown did some research and have the answer to this. The three key elements to an effective ad and successful campaign are to;

• Tell a story
• Have a meaningful message
• Have clear branding

These are pretty un-surprising findings, just watch a few of this year’s ads and you will see they all have a similar methodology. Instead of selling products they are selling sentiment and Christmas spirit in the hopes that their ad sticks in your mind and is a talking point for consumers. Even pushing these on social in the hopes of going viral – which they very often do- let’s not forget the plug costume from last year’s Sainsbury’s advert which is still circulating now!

The reality is, the Christmas ads are less about sales and more about starting conversations regarding the brand, most campaigns don’t contain any products and certainly don’t detail prices. Brands push the boundaries of their marketing at Christmas allowing for more creativity and putting strict brand guidelines to one side.

Often, consumers are shocked about the amount spent by these big businesses on their adverts, however, retailers typically make back the costs of their ads in one busy day in the festive period – that’s pretty impressive when you think about the likes of John Lewis & Waitrose spending £7mil on their latest ad ‘excitable Edgar’.

Let’s not forget that many retailers have cashed in on their ads through creating merchandising opportunities. Every year John Lewis sell soft toys based on their ads key character, these are always a huge hit and sell out. The same with Aldi and the sale of their Kevin the carrots, there were reports this year of customers fighting in store while trying to get their hands on the toy. Just another way for brands to create noise around their ad and to get consumers even more invested in their brand.

Another key to a great Christmas ad is the soundtrack, often the music in these ads works their way up the charts at Christmas- this just shows how impactful a great Christmas advertising campaign is.

No matter how much of a scrooge you are, everyone has a favourite Christmas ad. But does this impact where you shop? Hopefully soon we will have more research into the effectiveness of a Christmas ads, until then I look forward to seeing what the marketing managers and agencies come up with.

Image courtesy of John Lewis, Sainsbury’s, Aldi