It cost 1.8 million to create, it has currently racked up over 16 million YouTube views, it’s been shared over 150,000 times and…it’s an ad. That’s right it’s this year’s Christmas ad for UK department store John Lewis, which may reduce you to tears and leave you wishing for a pet penguin.
Over the past five years John Lewis has positioned itself as one of the global benchmarks for Christmas ad campaigns, and excitingly for adland other major retailers have accepted the challenge of trying to beat them, year after year.
Joining John Lewis as contenders for the UK top spots this year are Sainsbury’s, Marks & Spencer, Mulberry and Sky TV. Little-to-no branding, exquisitely composed music and emotive messaging that hits home have been a recurring formula for top creative this Christmas.
For those living outside agency life, the November wave of beautifully created TV ads rings in the beginning of the Christmas shopping period. For marketers, it’s one of the only times of the year that we have the full and willing attention of consumers. There exists the rare opportunity not to distract, but to create emotional connections for brands with their buyers.
On this side of the hemisphere, sadly, the duopoly that is Coles and Woolworths decided to spend their budget on Heston, Jamie and Curtis. And so, have given us the same tired formula they use throughout the year, thus missing the opportunity to really connect with audiences. However, what is thrilling to see is that some Aussie brands have broken free of the typical, product placing, ‘salesy’ mould, and have created spots that are getting there in terms of an emotional strategy.
Qantas, Aldi and David Jones have so far been the most popular Aussie releases for audiences. With all three spots focusing on the uniqueness of the Aussie Christmas, conveying this through humour, emotion, and again, very little product placement.
While Qantas is unlikely to see a surge in sales from those who can’t go home for Christmas, now rushing to book flights, nor will David Jones launch a range of luxury chimneys; the emerging thread here is that big Aussie brands are beginning to embrace the Christmas ad trend of ditching the ‘sell’ in favour of pulling at the heart strings.
10 years ago the calibre of a retailer’s Christmas window was what got shoppers talking. Now, for this online shopping generation, a brand’s Christmas ad campaign (combined with a catchy hashtag, healthy budget and clever social media strategy), is the effort required in order to win the coveted crown of Christmas Ad King.
As a festive enthusiast, I personally am intrigued to see how far Aussie brands will be willing to push the sleigh out and change direction.
What are your favourite Christmas spots so far this year?
Sarah Fitzpatrick is an Account Coordinator at BCM