It’s Christmas ads season in the world of marketing & advertising. It’s natural that brands try to capitalise on the opportunity that festive season presents – shopping is a big part of the celebrations. Beyond retail brands, several other categories create campaigns aimed to make the most of the season. Oct-Dec is Apple’s Q1 and new iPhone launches are timed with this period. Similarly, several other brands invest heavily to get into the consideration set. The ‘big retail’ in Europe, especially UK are known for their evocative Christmas-themed ads. This year, I did not find too many clutter-breaking Christmas ads; many were predictable and were anchored on familiar, tried & tested themes. Here are a few which caught my eye this past week.
Penny: the rift
Our society is more divided than ever. That’s the one statement everyone seems to agree on. Everything else – political affiliations, sports, music, choice of phone brand seems to pit everyone in opposing camps causing animosity. Such divisions have existed for ages – but the rise of social media platforms have exploited and deepened the fault lines. A new ad from German retailer Penny, is anchored on this observation.
Corona, migration, energy crisis – never before have so many issues divided us. Deep cracks do not stop at friends and families . But we can all do something about the cracks. Sometimes even a small step is enough.Source
Nowadays one tends to check the duration of a YouTube film from a brand before deciding to even give it a watch. Sometimes, long duration films put us off. I think the opening sequences and the first few seconds play a role in deciding if we would even watch it. This film, despite its near 4-min duration holds our attention thanks to the intriguing buildup, the production values and some great acting.
Agency: Serviceplan, Munich
John Lewis: The Beginner
Among the big retail brands in UK, the Christmas advert from John Lewis is perhaps the ‘most anticipated’. Imagine the pressure on the team to go one better than the last. While ‘feel good factor’ is a common theme on many Christmas ads (a thought lost on some Indian brands during Diwali – which they see as an opportunity to be preachy) they can get all mushy and syrupy sweet. A new film from John Lewis has intrigue, light moments and then the penny-drop moment which goes beyond just a claim but an act from the brand.
It tells the story of a middle-aged man trying to learn skating and failing miserably. His perseverance shows results and it all dawns on the viewer as to why he was doing that. The story is anchored on John Lewis’ initiative of Building Happier Futures which aims to ‘make a difference to young people from care’. We all know the cherished feeling of spending our festivals with our families and so can relate to the emotions behind the campaign idea. Going by the social media responses it has got the Britain talking.
Argos: they’re coming trailer
‘When the world zigs, zag’ maybe the motto BBH but it comes alive in this ad from another agency. Instead of a theme ad, Argos has cleverly released a trailer as many consider November to be too early for Christmas ads. And humour as a route provides a welcome contrast to tear jerkers and overly emotional ads for the season.
ToysRUs Canada: imagination included
Toy brands have attempted to drive home a larger benefit: ‘imagine the possibilities’ said Barbie in a campaign from 2015. The fact that kids play act even with everyday things is commonly noticed and enjoyed. A new film from ToysRUs in Canada is anchored on that observation coupled with the fact that today’s kids can be easily bored, have ‘digital distractions’ and are probably playing outside in real life a lot less.
Agency: Broken Heart Love Affair
MINI USA: polar bear
Way beyond a 30-second commercial, this creative idea is based on real-life activities with actual users of the MINI brand. In April 2022, MINI Cooper SE Electric was launched to coincide with Earth Day. The brand tied with Polar Bears International to encourage eco-adoptions and even featured a toy polar bear bobble head in the ad. Owners of MINI wanted to purchase the dashboard bobble head and that led to an engagement with the community. They have the polar bear a name and the brand responded with creating a colour in the same name.
It might sound all tenuous to the product but two things work in its favour: a car is a high involvement purchase (which doesn’t happen every year) and an emotional connect with the brand is important – it is a reflection of who you are. Also MINI has a strong community of fans and hence such activities should create even more affinity towards it.
Agency: Pereira O’Dell
Britannia 50-50: Ravi Shastri
Am not sure if it was a planner’s perspective of turning a simple product feature of ‘butter & herbs’ into a change in perspective of ‘desi‘ and ‘videshi‘. Just that shift throws up interesting possibilities of two contrasting cultures coming together. Ravi Shastri, former cricketer has his fan base in India and suits both the avatars well.
Agency: Lowe Lintas
TESCO: the manifesto
In the ‘let’s be different from other Christmassy ads’ is this one from TESCO, styled on the lines of a political party’s promise manifesto film. Given the mood in UK pertaining to cost of living, politicians have given statements on what needs to get done to fix things. So the tongue-in-cheek humour works in the context of ‘delivering’ on promises for a retail brand.
ALDI: Home Alone spoof
‘Love Actually’ and ‘Home Alone’ would probably rank among the top Christmas movies across the globe. The new ad from ALDI cleverly juxtaposes their long-standing animated character ‘Kevin the carrot’ in a Home Alone-like situation – sure to evoke smiles and ‘awwws’.
Agency: McCann UK
Hyundai Staria (South Africa): Make Space for Different
The new Staria variant from Hyundai is pitched as a spacious MPV and its ‘different’ seating style allowing for face-to-face communication is the anchor in these set of ads from South Africa. I liked how difference in points of view, even over trivial issues can get uncomfortable – which is dramatised visually in a hemmed-in feeling. The car’s space is then juxtaposed as a welcome alternative.
Agency: King James Johannesburg
Which one was your favourite? Do comment in.