23rd November 2015

Tis the season for Christmas ads

I admit it; I’m a Christmas addict. So, what’s the marker for when Christmas is here for me. It’s not when the first advent calendars appear on supermarket shelves nor the bells of a familiar Christmas song on the radio. No, it is and has always been the arrival of the first Christmas TV advert.

I’m a loyal girl and Christmas for me was always marked by Coca-Cola. Who can forget the twinkly delivery trucks rolling into town and the chants of ‘holidays are coming’ (an Americanism we totally embrace at Christmas). Growing up, we were only allowed Coca-Cola as a treat at Christmas, reaffirming my view that this was the season for this favourite carbonated beverage.

So, the past couple of weeks have been exciting ones as the Christmas ads have arrived with gusto. But, who is winning the battle to ultimately steal the biggest share of jangly Christmas purses? Here’s a look at a handful of the most-talked about Christmas launches so far:

Unless you’ve been on the moon yourself, you will have stumbled upon John Lewis’ #manonthemoon efforts for this year. A thoughtful and incredibly cute (not an accidental move) little girl enjoys stargazing each night and spots a lonely old man living on the moon. She sets herself a challenge to get him a Christmas gift – a telescope so he can communicate (mainly by waving) with her from afar.

If that isn’t enough to make you feel festively warm, couple it with the fact the retailer has partnered with Age UK and has focused its marketing spend around the notion of stopping people feeling lonely this Christmas and you’re bound to find yourself seeking solace in a large bowl of Quality Street.

Sainsbury’s left me feeling moved last year with its Christmas Day wartime truce efforts. This year, the grocer played to another emotion; humour. Poor hapless egg-loving Mog (who you may recognise from the famed series of books) wants to have a relaxed family Christmas but a series of ill-fated cat(!)-astrophes leads to a dramatic house fire and the risk of Christmas being ruined.

There’s tears and fears for Mog’s popularity but Christmas is saved by the community rallying around. It’s good news for Mog, who got his Christmas Day eggs, and excellent news for Sainsbury’s marketing team as Mog’s Christmas Calamity (the book telling the story of the ad) has been selling at a rate of 39 books every minute since launching. Triply good news for Save The Children, the charity benefiting from book sales to support its literacy campaign.

So if Sainsbury’s picked up the ‘community’ mantle set by M&S’ Two Fairies last year, how has the high street retailer retaliated? It’s skipped the emotion of the festive season and gone all arty. #theartofchristmas is a colourful assault on the senses, showcasing clothes, homewares, gifting and the oh-so-wonderful M&S food. It’s sparkly, it’s shiny, it’s Christmassy and it’s making noise without pulling on the heartstrings. A solid effort but perhaps lacking the emotional connection we have come to expect from retailers at this time of year.

But there’s one new Christmas ad player stealing the column crumbs this year. Is it a load of old crumpet? No, it’s a load of fantastic fun. Warburtons turned our heads earlier this year by partnering with Sly Stallone and now it’s teamed up with The Muppets – and it really works. Jonathan Warburton is star of the show – not an easy feat when you’re competing with Miss Piggy – but the ad shows you can promote product, have fun and not leave us weeping.

So, for me, the Christmas ad campaigns have brought emotions, from helping children read to thinking about elderly people alone. They’ve brought fun and festive flavour and a return to the glitziness of the festive season which was not abundant last year. But, the biggest surprise of all; it’s brought us the Muppets and some fantastic carbohydrates. Not necessarily a combination you’d link to Christmas but nonetheless a duo which has got us smiling, sharing on social channels and being a genuine contender for Christmas ad winner against a backdrop normally reserved for the key grocers and high street retailers. Nice work Warburtons; I’m off to grab a Christmas crumpet.

By Emma Cameron, Consumer Senior Account Director