The brands giving us lockdown laughs

The word “unprecedented” is everywhere. Cardi B warbling “Coronavirus” is on repeat in my head. Each day is rolling into the next and every now and again, I have to forcibly relax my jaw after realising I’ve been anxiously clenching my teeth.

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I’ll stop there… while quarantine has been an unusual transition, I’m definitely feeling very grateful for my health and loved ones during “these strange times” (another *very* popular phrase).

Something that has been helping though, is seeing the creativity and innovation that has been sparked by brands as a result of lockdown. Humour can be tricky to get right during a crisis but can also be a great outlet and distraction from all the scary news that’s clogging up every social media platform at the moment.

Here are some brands I think have nailed it on the head with humour and creativity.

Ryan Reynolds & Mint Mobile

Filmed in the style of many Zoom quizzes and virtual meetings now taking place across the world, this gave me a proper chuckle. The ad titled “New ManageMint” opens with Reynolds appearing to be recording from his laptop as he introduces a slideshow, poking fun at himself and his movies throughout.

The actor sarcastically tells us “instead of using the magic of film, I’m gonna use the magic of slides!” I love this light-hearted ad and how it gets the brand’s message of low-cost mobile service across in a fun and creative way. Definitely worth a watch!

Since purchasing a majority ownership of Mint Mobile at the end of 2019, Reynolds has created lots of brand awareness, not least by taking a dig at brands paying up to $5m for an ad in the Superbowl this year. Mint Mobile took an ad out with the New York Times, titled “An Announce-Mint”, offering 3 months of free service to 100,000 people if they signed up during the Superbowl, which they claim would equate to the same amount of money as paying for a Superbowl ad.  

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Whassup Bud

“WAZZZAAAAA” was to 1999 what the Go Compare opera man is today. It’s one of the first ads I remember seeing as a child. I don’t think I even knew it was from an ad at the time? I just remember everyone shouting WAZZZAAAA at each other, quite often in a context that didn’t make sense (E.g. Q: “Well, what’s new with you?” A: “WAZZZAAAA”). Turns out it was an ad for Budweiser! And now, the beer brand has repurposed the ad to reinforce the message of staying home and social distancing during the Coronavirus lockdown.

 

Emily Crisps

It isn’t a fantastic time to launch an outdoor advertising campaign, given that no one is leaving their house these days. This was the problem snack brand Emily Crisps faced when they realised their first OOH advertising campaign was going to be seen by a lot less eyes than they had initially planned. Despite the challenge, the brand turned it into an opportunity to express humour and get their personality across by changing the creative a little.

Initially, the message was to “ditch dull, eat bold” referring to the fact that most crisp brands look similar to the standard red, green and blue packaging. Instead, Emily Crisps have kept he “eat bold” slogan for their OOH campaign, while making fun of themselves too. One of the digital executions reads “Our first ever poster, seen by a runner and one pigeon. Typical.” Another says “Do an ad when it’s warmer, they said… more people will see it, they said. Pffft…” and “Hmmm… maybe we should have made a TV ad instead”.

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Coronavirus (cue the Cardi meme) has altered our lives in every way imaginable and it has been a really difficult time for a lot of people. Seeing brands harness their creativity and rise to the challenge that lockdown has brought, has been incredibly inspiring.

I do believe that a pinch of humour (when used in the right way) is a great way for a brand to show their personality and ultimately create a unique form of engagement with their customers. It lets us see the human faces behind the Big Corporation mask and in this case, reminds us that these brands are going through the challenges of Coronavirus along with us.

 

Ciara Madden is a first year BSc in Communications, Advertising & Marketing student at Ulster University. She can be found on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/ciara-madden-29ab7318a/

Great brands demonstrating social distancing

As governments around the world promote staying at home to curb the spread of the Covid-19 outbreak, brands are stepping up to help. 

With consumers staying at home, brands now have a unique opportunity to craft creative digital campaigns to showcase their products as well as their social responsibility. By spending all this time indoors, it is no surprise that creativity is booming around the world, with strong messages of hope, unity and forward- thinking gracing our social media timelines. 

Cleverly, Slovenia-based creative director Jure Tovrljan reimagined some of the world’s most iconic logos for the new age of social distancing. Tovrljan redesigned 12 logos from brands like Nike, Starbucks and The Olympics. Some updates were as simple as a play on words: LinkedIn becomes ‘LockedIn’, Nike’s famous ‘Just do it’ becomes ‘Just don’t do it’.  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Whilst these designs are just thought experiments, some brands have made actual changes to their logos to express official recommendations surrounding Covid-19.

Fast food chains have taken their own twist on this emerging trend. McDonalds has separated the Golden Arches that make up its iconic ‘M’, whilst similarly KFC adapts its logo with a strong tagline to reinforce its message.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Meanwhile Coca-Cola widened the space between the letters in its iconic script with ‘Staying apart is the best way to stay united’ situated below it, promoting the stay at home order. Whilst it hasn’t touched its famous ‘Just do it’ tagline, Nike have also made an attempt to adapt the public obligation to stay at home as a personal challenge with their new ad campaign below:

 

 

 

 

 

 

Not forgetting the disruption automakers have faced to production from the outbreak, Audi and Volkswagen have also joined in temporarily redefining their logo:

 

 

 

 

 

 

Of course, we ourselves at Allstate have applied our own light-hearted approach to this trend to visually engage with our audience and remind them daily of the recommendation we face:

 

 

 

 

 

 

However, whilst not all brands are adapting logos they are being mindful about the way they communicate.

ASOS was recently scrutinised for selling chainmail face masks during this outbreak. Since then, they made the decision to the withdraw the product, and have been more mindful about the way it is speaking about the pandemic on social media. Positively, ASOS is using gentle humor to encourage social distancing, speaking about it in a tone that appeals to its target audience of millennials:

 

 

 

 

It is clear to see that in these challenging times brands are destined to stay current whilst promoting social good. Do you think these are successful?

Stephanie Daly is a third year Bsc Communication, Advertising and Marketing student at Ulster University currently on placement year at Allstate. She can be found at: LinkedIn – Stephanie Daly.

261 years into a 9,000-year lease

If you have been in Dublin for a day trip or a weekend before then I’m sure the Guinness Storehouse and infamous St. James gate was high on your to do list, for that must have Instagram snap or just to visit the home of the most famous thing to come out of Ireland since Westlife.

In 1759, 261 years ago, Arthur Guinness signed a 9,000-year lease for the old abandoned St. James brewery and generations of the Guinness family have been brewing Guinness there ever since. It’s long been a part of Irish history and a key feature in Dublin’s tourism industry with total visitors of around 18 million people since it opened to the public in 2000, and just a tiny €361.2 million economic contribution in 2017, according to the Journal.ie.

On a typical wet Sunday afternoon in Dublin, I finally got the chance to go see the home of Guinness for myself. Even though I don’t actually like the drink (I’m more of a cider girl myself, sorry Guinness!) the Storehouse was always somewhere I wanted to visit. Not because of the free pint at the end but because besides being famous for the drinks, Guinness’ marketing and ads have given the brand a place in the history books and it has a floor in the Storehouse dedicated to ‘The world of advertising’.

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In this section of the Storehouse you can see the first newspaper advertisement for Guinness ever published in a newspaper (pictured below) which came out in 1929. You can see larger than life characters from some of the best ads from throughout the years, for example, a kangaroo, a seal, a tortoise and a fish on a bicycle.

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In this post I thought I’d run you through my top 5 favourite Guinness tv ads – some old, some new but all pretty legendary tv adverts.

 

  1. Tipping point

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Tipping point first graced our TV screens in November 2007 and was dubbed the most expensive ad in history. This tv ad was based in Argentina showcasing the most usual game of dominos ever witnessed. It begins with 6,000 dominos which leads onto paint, cars, books and tyres leading up to a column of books which open to resemble a pint of Guinness. The fall of the dominos takes about a minute and a half and ends in the slogan “Good things come to those who wait” because it takes around 119 seconds to pour the perfect pint of Guinness, which is a fairly long wait for a pint I suppose. This one takes 5th place for me due to its artistry and the effort that must have gone into making it.

 

  1. Surfer

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“Tik followed tok, followed tik followed tok” began the ad that was to be voted the best tv ad of all time. This ad again signifies the phrase “good things come to those who wait” and follows the story of surfers waiting for the prefect wave that they have waited their whole lives to ride. Launched in 1999 it was the first of a new trend in ads for Guinness. It wasn’t popular with research audiences at the beginning but the brand director and the director of the ad agency responsible for the idea both knew they were on to a winner. I put this surfer as 4th place on my list of favourites.

 

  1. The Purse

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This adorable little ad came out earlier this year and ran throughout the six nations. It was based on a true story of two Welsh brothers who had recently lost their mother, but her dying wish was that they spend all that was left of her money on the six nations as she was such a fan of the tournament. The ad shows them honouring her wishes and her life by following their beloved Welsh team around Europe for matches and of course, using the same purse that she used as a kitty on match days, they enjoy a pint of Guinness. This makes it onto 3rd place on my list as I just think the story is so heart-warming with a little bit of humour thrown in there too.

 

  1. Congo’s Sapeaurs

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This ad is based on the Society of Elegent Persons of the Congo, better known as the Sapeurs and sheds light on a different side of African culture. It came out in 2014 and was praised for being hugely realistic and true to life. The people in the ad aren’t actors but actually real sapeaurs who believe in the power of dressing your best and showing your true style, flair and creativity. This ad stands for more than trying to sell a few more pints, but highlights the work these sapeurs do in their community, helping each other and their families and getting people back on track, symbolising their stand for peace, integrity and honour. The flair of the people, the music and the true to life setting are why I think this is my 2nd favourite ad.

 

  1. Even at the home of the black stuff, they dream of a white one

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Awarded the title of “Probably the best Christmas ad ever” by me, I think it’s fair to say a lot of people would agree. It just doesn’t feel like Christmas until you’ve seen the Guinness Christmas ad of 2011 and as that time of year is approaching once again I don’t think anything else could possibly have been at the top of my list. The fact that is ad is nearly 10 years old and is still shown every year shows that its up there with the best Christmas ads of all time. It’s an iconic ad, filmed in spots all over Ireland at the minute Christmas starts and the snow begins to fall.

 

Shannon Walsh is a final year BSc in Communications Management and Public Relations student at Ulster University. She can be found on twitter at @997_shannon or on LinkedIn at https://www.linkedin.com/in/shannon-walsh-8a3b08172/

Battle Of The Christmas Ads

The shelves are stocked with mince pies and Mariah Carey is playing throughout the supermarkets but there’s nothing that says the holiday season quite like the battle of the Christmas ads. Halloween is over and just like that the festive advertisements, flood our TV screens. I think it’s fair to say that Christmas ads have now become an integral part of our Christmas.

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We wait with anticipation to see what extent our favourite retailers and brands will go to, to be crowned Christmas advertisement of the year, but what actually makes a good Christmas advertisement? Tear jerkers? Humour? Tradition? Celebs?

One thing for sure anyway, a lot of money makes a good campaign… BBC reported that last year these industry giants spent a record breaking 6.4bn on festive advertising. Wow!

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Here’s the low down on Brand Watch’s top 5 Christmas Ads of 2018;

  1. John Lewis (no surprise here)

John Lewis never fail to impress us, they are a strong contender for the best ad every year and you can be almost sure that before it’s even released it’s going to be a good one. It was reported that they spent 1 Million pound on the masterpiece.  I think they’ll find it hard to top it this year.

  1. Iceland

Ranked the most powerful Christmas ad of 2018, and probably one of the most talked about and shared on social media, after being banned from TV. Iceland pulled at our heart strings by showing the devastating effects of palm oil plantations and a tale of how an orangutan lost its home and family due to deforestation. To say it was controversial that this got banned is an understatement, hence why it was shared so widely on social media.

  1. Sainsburys

This was a personal fav of mine from last year. Bringing out the fun element and showing kids having ‘The Best Night’ at their school play. This ad generated the most positive reactions on Twitter.

  1. Aldi

It was the return of Kevin the Carrot for Aldi, we watched in anticipation as Aldi piggy-backed on the Coca-Cola ad, with Kevin on the road doing some deliveries in a very similar style truck to that of the iconic red Coca-Cola one. Aldi very cleverly got us all talking about their ad by leaving it on a cliff hanger.

  1. Heathrow

Heathrow brought back the beloved bears for what made a touching festive story that warmed our hearts.

So what’s the secret to having the most effective Christmas campaign?

It can be said that the most successful Christmas ads are the ones that take us on a journey with them. This is probably why John Lewis were crowned last year’s best, as they took us on the journey of ‘The Boy and the Piano’ we watched Elton John grow from a young boy who received a piano from his grandmother as a Christmas present, into a music icon.

Some Christmas ads have been slammed in the past for pushing products and not focusing on the Christmas spirit, but after all the main purpose of an ad is to increase sales and get people through the door, right?

Every year we see these brands very cleverly battle it out on twitter in response to each other’s ads and last year was no different with plenty of  ‘keyboard warriors’ creating parodies of the John Lewis Ad. We all like to see a bit of friendly banter between rivals. Round of applause for the creativity of these!

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Iceland (ouch)

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Poundland

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eBay

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Oldies but goldies… 

Is there still room for the classics or is it time for them to up their game?

Personally I love the classic nostalgic ads.

I think it goes without saying that the all-time favourite traditional Christmas ad has to be, Coca-Cola ‘The Holidays are coming’? It is definitely mine anyway! The iconic red truck first graced our TV screens in 1995, and every year since we have tuned in to watch its return. Research carried out by the Advertising Association actually found that ‘The Holidays are coming’ was voted the best song to be played in a Christmas Ad.

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Who will get your vote this year?

Megan.

Megan Carton is a final year Bsc Communication Management and Public Relations student at Ulster University. She can be found at LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/megan-carton-351485182/

Tis the Season to be Freezin’

With the Halloween festivities behind us, Christmas trees appear to be assembling earlier and earlier each year. To many individuals despair we consumers aren’t given a breath before being bombarded with Christmas themed PR marketing campaigns. I, on the other hand, LOVE the bombardment of advertisements as Christmas really is the most wonderful time of the year. With the festive period creeping closer and closer I wanted to reflect on past Christmas marketing campaigns which never fail to put me in the Christmas mood.

Coca-Cola Holidays Are Coming

 It would be impossible to write a blog post about Christmas marketing campaigns without including the iconic Coca-Cola Ad.  The twinkling red trucks driving by ecstatic communities combined with the ‘Holidays are Coming’ soundtrack heralds the start of Christmas on our TV screens every year. The ad first was aired in 1995 as part of Coca- Cola’s seasonal advertising campaign, 24 years later the ad has been deemed the most loved Christmas advert of all time with 34% of Brits stating it is their favourite.

 Budweiser Prohibition Campaign

 With Christmas being a time when alcohol consumption is at its peak. With ‘12 pubs of Christmas’, Christmas parties every other weekend, Christmas markets and mulled wine stalls springing up in towns across the country there really is an abundance of alcohol; with 6 billion units being consumed here in Ireland and across the UK at this festive time.

Budweiser is using digital platforms to release its new alcohol- free sub-brand Prohibition, for an ad campaign tackling drink driving over the festive period. I feel this initiative from Budweiser is effective in putting the message into the mind of the people to not drink-drive and get the nation home safely for Christmas.

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Lidl Hijacking Billboards

 Lidl embarked on a rebellious poster campaign in a bid to jab rival retailers M&S and Waitrose, endeavouring to build up Lidl’s proposition ‘Big on Quality, Lidl on Price.’ Adding fuel to fire, Lidl strategically placed these billboards near its rivals’ stores.

John Lewis Elton John Ad

 After a decade of tear-jerkers starring various harmless fluffy animals, John Lewis pulled out the stops in 2018 with a good dose of old-fashioned star power to sell Christmas. The advert named ‘The Boy and the Piano’ depicts the story of a national treasure, Sir Elton John and with a touch of poetic licence tells the tale of how the gift of a piano altered the course of a young boy’s life. The ad is heart-warming as we witness moments of his life flash before his eyes, from school plays to electric pub gigs to mega-stardom.

However, not everyone appreciated this heartening advert. The Kantar Millward survey reported that the advert lacked relevance scoring a grim 2.83/5 and overall performed relatively poorly for its persuasive nature (2.77/5) while scoring a dire 2.79 for delivering consumers information.  Various retailers responded to the advert, the most poignant of which would have to be Iceland. The tweet created by Iceland displays a similar backdrop to the John Lewis ad; however, this time a displaced orangutan is playing a burning, smoky piano as his backdrop is ablaze. This distressing, emotive response by Iceland was very powerful and fitting for their #NoPalmOilChristmas campaign and has left a greater mark on me than the initial advert.

 McDonald’s Carrot Stick Ad #ReindeerReady

 The ‘Carrot Stick’ ad illustrates a young girl who is bizarrely attached to the last carrot in her happy meal, as she proudly asserts ‘It’s for the reindeer!’ After carefully clutching it through the busy streets and bus ride home, she smugly shows her prized offering to her mother. This is shortly before her bubble is burst by her older brother who nags that ‘There are more than one reindeer!’ This inconveniently results in a trip back to the nations beloved McDonalds, to retrieve treats for the rest of the fleet.

The campaign places prevalence on the anticipation, enthusiasm and the little moments of magic that is mounted in the run-up to Christmas. The slick initiative of the #ReindeerReady Snapchat filter combined with the Christmas branded carrot sticks in store all brilliantly enhanced the Christmas campaign. The story of the little girl warms the hearts of the nation and skillfully encapsulates the magic of Christmas spirit.

 

Hannah Colgan is a final year BSc in Communication Management & Public Relations student at Ulster University. She can be found at: LinkedIn – https://www.linkedin.com/in/hannah-colgan-b65179166/ and Instagram – @Hannahcolgan890

Christmas Marketing from a Young Age

I have worked in retail since the young age of ten, I was inspired by the need for getting a bicycle because everyone my age had a cool one at that age and that’s all I wanted. I was a Gumtree fanatic, I received all my money from posting ads, since then I have viewed multiple pieces of marketing which have helped me enhance my skills and promote products among the family business.

One key marketing ad which I would say has positively influenced me since a young age in my journey of work, is the Coca Cola Christmas Ad. Did you know that they call the lorries the “Christmas Caravans?” There are many of these trucks all over the world round Christmas time, this is called the Christmas Truck Tour. It is very believable that Coca Cola are the biggest spenders on advertising in soft drinks per year. 

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I deal with a lot of the Christmas ads and promotional content in and outside of store over a three-year period at this point and recently I have used the season to my advantage. Also realising that we have to create a reasonable and achievable marketing budget and so far it has been working relatively well as we have noticed a spike in sales. Especially after the event in which we had to promote it.

Rewinding back to my marketing skills several years ago shows that I lacked the understanding of budgets and brand awareness. I wouldn’t have promoted my posts or our brand to the extent we would do now. As my mother has always told me if you want to achieve something you must put a little more time and effort into it and it’s a little more achievable. Attached below is how my marketing techniques have advanced over 2 years.

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We like to analyse where most customers find us from (because our store is a little bit out of the way). We advertise on several platforms as well as some self-promotion. Facebook and Instagram are always our main priority as there are a vast number of people on social media sites with a wide age range and a growing population. We also find the Irish News and Local Women to have been two other important pieces of media which provide us with our local custom. We find that majority of our customers come from Word of Mouth – this is a positive form of advertising because it means our customers are loyal.

Another marketing campaign I have grown up watching is the John Lewis Christmas Ad. It started in 2007 so at this point I had a grasp in what the concept of Christmas was and why it attracted many. They spend huge amounts of money on marketing and tend to get a lot of blogs and influential people talking about it – this is great regardless of whether it is negative or positive because it gets people to go and view the video on sites such as YouTube, meaning that it promotes interest and gets the ad to the “Most Popular” section which is the first piece of content a person views when they go onto this app. But as I’ve been reminded throughout my university journey so far any PR is good PR as it gets people talking and as I’ve said when people talk, people want to see who you are, review your content and potentially purchase off you (if they like your online persona, or if they come into your store your professional persona).

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Both these campaigns have given me a deepening awareness at developing my skills and hopefully this will pay off in the long hall, and the campaigns I will do in the future will be strengthened by this progressing knowledge. This shows the influence that advertisements can subconsciously have on a person, including me. I hope to continue to watch the rise on marketing campaigns and learn new ideas and techniques from them, to continue to grow the family business in which I have been brought up in.

 

Caithlen Loughran is a final year BSc in Communication Management & Public Relations student at Ulster University. She can be found at: Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/caithlenloughran.x , LinkedIn – Caithlen Loughran and Instagram – caithlenloughran

Kevin puts on a Christmas Cracker

With Christmas sweets spotted in shops before Halloween even ended this year, are you feeling the festive fever? Christmas campaigns are also starting earlier each year and it’s getting hard to turn on the TV without being bombarded with adverts telling you how little time you have to buy presents for your loved ones and why you should buy from their store. Amidst the madness one advert in particular stood out to me, Aldi’s advert featuring Kevin the carrot.

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A few weeks ago, Aldi released a very simple but effective 10 second teaser featuring the ‘Leafy Blinders.’ In the video we see a host of Brussel Sprouts, in my opinion the undisputed badies of Christmas, dressed in Peaky Blinder style flat caps. During the clip they state that they’re, ‘Here to take back Christmas, by order of the Leafy Blinders’ followed by a ripped newspaper featuring an article on Kevin. Anyone who has watched a single episode of the Peaky Blinders will see the clear resemblance to the show from the lighting to the thick accents. The teaser didn’t give much away but was enough to peak your interest.

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So, what’s the craic with Kevin?

Two weeks later the full Christmas advert was released showing Kevin in all his glory. The ad starts with Kevin tided up to a grater while the Leafy Blinders heckle him, the narrator can be heard saying ‘Christmas before Kevin was all about sprouts’ which explains their anger. The whole narration of the advert is done in a rhyming style which makes it more fun. During this scene Kevin can be seen wearing a circus master’s outfit but the reason for this is still unclear. A tomato is then thrown at Kevin in a bid to harm him but in a turn of events this little tomato chews through the ropes tying Kevin up. He then thanks ‘tiny tom’ for his help. This is a well thought through character as Tiny Tom is a well-known name and obviously Tom can be short for tomato. We are also starting to see a picture being built up of the array of fruit and veg Aldi stock without even realising it.

The pair can be seen running through the snow to arrive at a beautiful circus tent where we catch another pun as Kevin tells tommy to ‘Catch up’ like ketchup. The background music starts to kick in here and we can hear the catchy tune of Let Me Entertain You by Robbie Williams, not your average Christmas carol but it’s guaranteed to be stuck in your head all day. There has been discussion around whether Robbie is actually singing this version, the verdict has been unsure but I think it adds to the Christmas magic to imagine that it is.

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Kevin then takes the stage as PT Barnum from the film The Greatest Showman and lets us know that, ‘Sprouts are gone and Kevin’s here!’ He can be seen throughout the rest of the advert running around an abundance of festive treats from mince pies to turkey and ham while the crowds cheer in glee. This makes the consumer feel that in order to have a showstopping Christmas they need to purchase all this food to impress their guests. There is a further nod towards The Greatest Showman as a carrot, who we presume to be Kevin’s partner, wears a purple wig like Anne Wheeler in the film. Towards the end of the advert a ‘good’ Brussel sprout lands in a canon and states that, ‘it’s time to blast off,’ all these hidden jokes make the advert fun to watch for all ages. We then see the final scene of the family of carrots standing together. Aldi have done an excellent job at combining this film from popular culture into their advert and with the sparkling lights and array of food it’s hard to look away!

Upon further research into Kevin the carrot I found out that this is not his first acting debut, he has in fact been the star of Aldi’s Christmas adverts from 2016. Other adverts included big films from that year, including a remake of Murder on the Orient Express where we see Kevin fall in love with Katie. Many people feel as though they have followed Kevin through major milestones in his life and have grown to love him so last year Aldi released a range of Kevin the carrot soft toys, with plans to do the same this year. The queues were phenomenal with the toys selling out in record time and even being sold for upwards of £1000 on eBay. I think all this shows how strongly a well thought out campaign can appeal to the public as each year Aldi are essentially advertising the same products just piggybacking off the back of a popular cultural film and it has proven to be very effective. Besides at the end of the day Kevin the carrot is just a carrot.

 

Benita Brown is a Final Year Bsc Communication Management and Public Relations (CMPR) student at Ulster University. She can be found at: Instagram – @benitabrown96 and LinkedIn – https://www.linkedin.com/in/benita-brown-929911194/