Christmas advertising for brands…..

It’s that time of year again when Christmas is upon us and the Christmas advertising campaigns begin.

Coca Cola Santa illustration

These have become increasingly prevalent over the years. John Lewis’s adverts have been a talking point for a number of years now and many people wait with anticipation over seeing them.

The origins of the Christmas advert

For many people, Coca Cola epitomise the Christmas advert. The site of their iconic Christmas advert heralds the start of Christmas. The adverts have featured the infamous red suited and booted Santa Claus since 1931 and always include the ‘Holidays are coming’ theme. In fact there is an urban myth that the Santa Claus we all resonate with today, in his red suit and hat was created by Coca Cola. While there is a degree of truth in this, they were not the first to depict him in this way. This shows how powerful branding can be! For many, the Coca Cola advert symbolises the perfect fairy tale Christmas. If you would like to know more about the Father Christmas/Coca Cola story then you may find this link from the BBC website interesting.

The retailers seem to like creating an emotional response from viewers and prospective clients. The Tesco advert this year is a classic example of this. It shows the story of a family via a video camera through six decades. The marketing director of Tesco feels the advert hits the spot as Christmas, ‘…is about family’. It also shows, ‘a real Christmas, not the perfect airbrushed one, but we can all relate too’.

The battle to have the best advert

Christmas advertising is a big business and arguably seems an excuse for some of the retailers to out-do one another. We have taken a little look at a few of this year’s adverts.

Coca Cola Christmas truck

What are the retailers doing this year?

It is interesting to see the different approaches the retailers take. As mentioned above, Tesco have gone for the happy family approach, no gloss but highly sentimental and perhaps one which people can relate too. John Lewis and Marks and Spencer have adopted a different approach. Marks and Spencer in particular have gone for a very glossy and expensive looking advert featuring model/actress Rosie Huntingdon-Wheatley, Helena Bonham Carter and model David Gandy. The advert plays on the Alice in Wonderland theme and looks like a fairy-tale. John Lewis advert this year is two 2 minutes long and in just 4 days became the most watched web video! One interesting fact about John Lewis’s Christmas adverts is that they only began in 2007. They have become such as institution around this time of year that it’s hard to believe they are only six years old.This year’s theme is perhaps intended to reach an emotional response. It adopts a Disney/Animals of Farthing Wood cartoon theme. It is designed to appeal to both children and adults and already appears to have been a success, with many people talking about it. Rather intriguingly they do not do any significant product placement during the advert. In the Marks and Spencers advert everyone is wearing or eating a Marks and Spencer product. With the exception of an alarm clock, there are is no blatant advertising. It seems very much an awareness creating advert. Sainsbury’s is the final campaign we shall look at here. They have gone for quite a radical approach this year. Their adverts have been little clips from a 50 minute film they have created with ‘Marley’ director Kevin Macdonald.The film is designed to replicate the story of Christmas day and was devised using home video clips. It’s believed to have taken 14 months to make as there was over 360 hours of footage. The film actually premiered on the 28th of November and is now available to watch on Youtube, if you have the time!

The cost of Christmas advertising

It’s clear that the major retailers regard Christmas advertising very seriously. John Lewis spent £7million on their campaign this year. Although the other retailers are not so forthcoming with their advertising budget it seems reasonable to assume they spent a similar figure. This year the retailers appear to have followed a similar theme; to create a sentimental, emotional and ultimately memorable film. The simple answer as to why these Christmas campaigns are taken so seriously is due to the amount of interest and chatter they attract, particularly via social media. The John Lewis advert has already attracted 10.5m hits on Youtube! This is nearly twice as many as last years at the same moment in time.Coca Cola who have 79 million likes on Facebook have over 100,000 people talking about their advert, which is fantastic for exposure. It seems people are going out of their way to watch the adverts. It seems difficult to imagine as recently as the 1990s that someone would have recorded an advert to a video and watched it!

Preface Studio’s campaign

We have also got in on the act, and this week we launched our Christmas advert, we may not be able to compete financially with the aforementioned but we are very pleased with our efforts! Here is an interesting Santa Claus fact for you, Santa Claus must visit an estimated 842 million homes and travels 221 million miles to reach every child’s home on Christmas Eve. This feat requires him to travel at a speed of 650 miles per second.

What is your favourite Christmas advert? Why not Tweet us?

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