Every day we come across hundreds of commercial messages. Only a handfulare memorable. Here are a select few which caught my eye, the week ending 10th November, 2017.
1. John Lewis: Moz the Monster
It’s that time of the year when ‘big retail’ – the famous brick & mortar chains of UK, launch their Christmas campaigns. These set of ads seem to be the Super Bowl of UK advertising garnering the same kind of global buzz. The big difference seems to be that while some big brands known to be regulars on Super Bowl can choose to not advertise during the event in a year, no such option is available for retail brands . Also, since the bar has been set high by these brands (especially by John Lewis) the expectations are high every year. John Lewis has had many famous Christmas adverts: the life journey of a woman, a story which unfolds across two different eras, the story of a bear & hare, the story of Monty the Penguin, Man on the moon and more. These campaigns don’t just create buzz but have a business impact too.
This year’s effort tells the story of a kid who gets rid of a monster under his bed thanks to a Christmas gift from John Lewis. The ad seems to have got mixed reviews (‘not Christmassy enough‘) as it is not as ‘soppy’ as the previous efforts from the brand. There seems to be some kind of unwritten code for Christmas brands and this story doesn’t seem to tug at the heartstrings. Overall, I would place it a notch lower than the brand’s previous efforts on the ‘likability’ scale.
2. M&S: Love the Bear
This years effort from M&S is tied with the release of the movie, Paddington 2. It tells the story of a burglar who gets mistaken for Santa and how he gets to spread the joy of gifting, thanks to the bear.
3. Debenhams: Christmas advert 2017
Here’s another UK retailer with all the ingredients ‘required’ for a feel good Christmas ad. The ad features the voice over of Ewan McGregor who also plays a cameo in the film.
4. Penny – ‘the walk’
A spot from German discount retail brand, Penny takes a different route this Christmas. The ad is devoid of all the feel good stuff like babies, happy children and pets but tells an uplifting story. I also loved the fact that ad actually has an idea (wait till the last frame of the ad) rather than just rely on great production values and montage of visuals to drive the feel good factor.
5. United States Postal Service – biggest gift
This ad tells the story of a little girl (yes, a cliche this season) whose Christmas is complete thanks to the great service from USPS. It is an endearing story and drives home the point of ‘no gift too small’.
6. Zynga – Words with friends
Sometimes an idea may be generic and applicable to other brands in the category but can be ‘ownable’ by a brand thanks to the execution and being the first to convey the idea. Words with friends, a popular game from Zynga convey the power of words in an endearing spot.
7. BMO for women
Bank of Montreal, or BMO, highlights gender bias through a clever visual device. The ads drive home the point that there still are pre-conceived notions about who is successful in domains like tech & entertainment. Nicely done.
8. Amazon Echo: print ads
Love it when the product is the hero but the print ad goes beyond merely showcasing it through nice images (as with most automobile ads). Here’s a set of ads which showcase the possibilities with Alexa.
9. Samsung – growing up
There is no denying that Samsung is the only one among the many Android handset brands which is hyphenated with Apple or the iPhone. Of late, the Pixel from Google is seeking to take that mantle but Samsung has earned its spurs over the years. It is clearly a product & marketing success. In my view it is achieved through a clever mix of ‘first to market’ (before Apple does it) features and comparative advertising which pegs itself as not just a worthy competitor to the iPhone but a superior one. Samsung has also successfully kindled the flame wars between the two factions (both iOS vs Android and iPhone vs Samsung). In my view, this is not healthy in the long run as the brand’s objective (and obsession) becomes ‘first to market’ which can result in product issues as was seen in Samsung Gear and the exploding phones.
The latest ad traces the various moments & ways in which Samsung is superior to Apple in terms of features. The ad is sure to make Samsung fans happy and elated as it take great potshots at Apple. The ad may also cause heartburn to some Apple fans as they don’t take too kindly to their brand being trashed. In my view, such ads are unlikely to cause dissonance among potential buyers of an iPhone (this time, the iPhone X) but only serve to keep the current crop of Samsung owners (and by extension Android users) happy about their choice. But this is a fun ad, nevertheless.
10. Sony MAX2
‘Films transport you to a magical world’ is not exactly a new proposition in entertainment brands. Memorable dialogues from films (be it in Hollywood or India) have also been used in advertising across brands, especially on radio. This one, from Sony MAX 2 strikes a chord thanks to the clever use of famous dialogues (set to the film’s context) and some great acting.
Agency: DDB Mudra
11. Not on the High Street
And finally, Christmas adverts for a retail brand, which is totally devoid of any category codes. Not on the High Street – the ‘home of thoughtful gifts’ pays lovely, charming tributes to those in our lives who ‘deserve’ a gift this season.
Which one was your favourite? Do comment in.