5 Top Tips for Surviving Working at Christmas Party Nights

The countdown to Christmas has already begun with Belfast turning on its Christmas lights. For many this is an exiting whirlwind month but for those who work in hospitality dread the upcoming weeks. Having experience working in a hotel Bar at Christmas I’ve come up with my top 5 tips to surviving Christmas party nights that often have you working until 5am.

1. Have a clear plan of action

This means at the beginning of the shift making sure that there is a clear plan of action for the evening. Including having assigned positions for those members of staff on the floor and those staying behind the bar. By having assigned tables to equally spread out the floor staff also means that the customers are being served equally and therefore no table can be left behind and complain that they have waited ‘X’ amount of time for an order to be taken. It’s all about minimising the complaints. This also means if there is any outstanding bills at the end of the night on a table, the manager should know what employee was responsible for that customer. At Christmas time there is better tips for being on the floor that is why I’ll always volunteer to be floor staff, you can earn up to an average of £20 extra tips per night.

2. Make sure you know the menu

Whether this is what drinks you have in stock that evening or the dinner the customers are being served that evening, make sure you know the score. You’ll be amazed the amount of questions you will get asked by every customer including what they are even having for dinner, a question which I’m sure they’ve already been told a few times before. It is much easier when you are taking a drinks order if you are actually aware of what drinks you serve. By knowing the simple list of wines and beers on drafts for sale, this will save you running in and out of the room to double check. It means the customer is served quicker and your manager will not be angry having to answer simple questions when they already have so much in their plate that night. Customers will also not bother to see that there is a difference between those staff serving them food and those serving them drinks, therefore be prepared to be asked for things like extra butter and gravy, so make sure you communicate to the food staff about who’s asked for what.

3. Eyes up whenever you are in the room

This was probably the first piece of training I received in preparation for these Christmas party nights, and it remains one of the most crucial elements to a smooth running of events. When entering the room keep your eyes up, yes you may be carrying really heavy hot plates and you don’t want to spill the gravy on your thumb. Or you are carrying a tray with one too many drinks to save you the extra trip. But when there can be close to 500 people in a room that’s only supposed to seat almost 400, you have to be aware of your surroundings. Because if your eyes are fixed on what’s in your hands, this is how accidents happen and things are spilled on customers.

4. Anticipate what the Customers going to do

This tip also relates to the last one. When people are drunk they aren’t aware of their surroundings as much as the sober people who are serving. Customers will not care to look before pushing out their chairs to get up for something. If they are standing over someone else having a conversation with a friend they will also not look around to see if they are in anyone’s way. Therefore you almost have to guess what their next move will be. This means when carrying 2 heavy hot plates or a full tray of drinks, be careful of those customers who might bump into you then proceed to blame you for being in their way. I often find the same rule for driving applies here, just stop dead in your tracks and stand still therefore if anyone bumps into you it’s their fault not yours.

5. Stay ahead of the game

This is probably the most important tip if you want to finish work at a reasonable hour. Make sure you stay ahead of the game as much as possible. At a Christmas party night for 400 guests, they each have 2 wine glasses at their tables, so already you have 800 glasses given out and it hasn’t even started yet. If they each have a drink upon arrival, your total of glasses to clear is 1200 and the haven’t even ordered a drink of their choice yet. This means you have to constantly be clearing the room from the beginning of the night. The aim is to lift as many empty glasses during the dinner rather than at 1am after the party’s over. This is also where assigned tables are handy because the manager can actually tell which employee is behind. So your aim is to get as many closing procedures done as soon as possible so that the team is not there polishing wine glasses at 5am in the morning. The sooner new staff learn this the better for everyone else.

 

Niamh McMordie is a final year BSc in Communication Management & Public Relations student at Ulster University. She can be found at: Twitter – @niamh_mcm99 and Instagram – @niamhmcm_

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

1-0 to Winter

I’m that person who says “I can’t wait for the dark evenings and crisp winter mornings.” I’m usually bopping around in my boots and beanies, sipping on a hot chocolate, happy that it’s winter again. And I mean, Gavin and Stacey are having a Christmas Special this year after nearly a decade! This should be the best winter ever. But this year, I REGRET SAYING ANYTHING. CAN IT BE JULY AGAIN PLEASE? The winter rut of 2019 hit me hard & the fact I’m struggling through Final Year is not making it any easier.

I’m freezing, I’m tired, I’m uninspired and I’m unmotivated. I feel lazy, irritated (and probably irritating) and I’m not looking after myself, mentally or physically. I was thriving in Summer, living my best life, reaching my goals. But this winter? I’m feeling anything but.

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Enough was enough and a couple of weeks ago for the a thousandth time this year I said to myself, “Catherine, wise up”. I’m blessed with good health, in the final year of a degree I have dreamed of doing since I was 14, living with four of my best friends and fortunate to have many more around me. The last thing I should be doing is feeling sorry for myself because it’s cold and dark outside, I have assignment to do in a degree I signed up for and that the moon is making us all act a little funny. I decided to take it upon myself to find out why I might be feeling this way, and ways in which I can stop it.

Groundhog Day

A common reason we may start to feel stuck in a rut is when every day starts to feel the same. As a final year student with endless work to do, I felt the need to be in the library by 9am typing away, scanning journals and questioning whether this degree was really for me. Attending a lecture and seminar in the afternoon, before heading back to the library for another hour or two just to make myself feel “better”. When really, I was tired and my  heads so fried that I’m not making any progress at all and I had just spent 2 hours on a paragraph that most likely isn’t going to make the final draft of my assignment. Final year was draining me. I thought I was doing myself a favour, working super hard, getting ahead of the game, but I soon realised I was burning myself out and it was affecting me in more ways than one. I even got BANGS in week 5.

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I knew I had to let myself relax, take a chill pill or 5. Coincidentally the next morning Meibh and I had planned to go for a walk up Cavehill and go for a Brunch date afterwards. I know it sounds cliché when they say heading outdoors really clears the head. But seriously, my head hadn’t been as clear in weeks. After the best Avo Toast I’ve ever had, shoutout to Output Espresso, we were true to our white girl selves and went to Starbucks to do some work, where I completed and submitted my first assignment, without feeling stressed. Which is not surprisingly considering studies show that being outdoors lowers stress and enhances creativity. So, the next time you feel under pressure with work, don’t lock yourself in the library, go get some fresh air and relax for a few hours. You’ll be surprised with what work you’ll produce after.

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“Nobody’s Perfect.” (Hannah Montana, 2006).

When having a little snoop around this topic on Google I found an article that explains how Perfectionism can ironically make you feel stuck and effect your progress. Well… My name is Catherine and I’m a perfectionist. Something I thought I should be proud of. I even have it as one of my top qualities on my CV, oops. But after some reading I found out how being a perfectionist will have you going around in circles, never happy with whatever you have done. Completing an assignment will have you saying “could I have done this better?” a thousand times before hitting the submit button on turnitin, rather than giving yourself a pat on the back for completing an assignment which was really hard and challenging and something you should be proud of completing. Learn to squash perfectionism and recognise that something being done is better than being left undone. Focus on completing things, at a standard you’re proud of and show cases your abilities of-course, but move on afterwords and don’t beat yourself up on whether it’s perfect or not. After all, does perfection even exist?

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The little things matter

And then, there was just little things. I asked myself, was I looking after myself? Was I eating well? Was I sleeping enough? Spending time with people who made me feel good and doing things I enjoyed? And to be honest, I wasn’t really. So, I filled my wraps with salad for lunch and added a few pieces of broccoli to my meals at dinner time. I let myself sleep for 8 hours rather than set an alarm for 7.30am at 2am. When my friends at Uni asked me to go for coffee after I said, “I’d love to” rather than “I’m going to go to the library.” I arranged to see friends I hadn’t in a while, making plans I had to look forward to. I got back into some good habits I had let slip, remembered how important it was to get fresh air everyday and most importantly set some time aside just for ME!

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It’s pretty easy to get a little down in the dumps, but you’d be surprised at the little things that can make you feel a little better and help you ride through the storm. But most importantly, be easy on yourself, you’re doing the very best you can.

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Sometimes these feelings may be more than just being stuck in a rut. Such feelings may be signs of something more serious. If what you’re feeling is more than just being stuck in a rut, talk to a friend, a family member, your doctor or contact a mental health helpline right away.

Catherine Maguire is a Final Year year BSc in Communication, Advertising & Marketing student at Ulster University. She can be found on Instagram: catherinelauram and LinkedIn: Catherine Maguire

Christmas Gift Guide (gifts under £20)

CHRISTMAAAAASSSSSS is undoubtably my most favourite time of the year! The Christmas Markets are up, the lights are on, my Christmas Tree is up and I am beyond excited!

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However, for a lot of people, Christmas is also the time of year where the same dreaded annual question that is  asked, day in and day out…

“What are you getting so and so for Christmas?”

Well, let your little minds be of peace whilst I provide exceptional gift ideas at exceptional prices for all your loved ones.

Mum’s special Gifts 

First things first, let’s get the important people out of the way, Mums. Don’t know about you guys, but my Mum is the ‘don’t spend too much on me’ type of mum. Which is something my sisters and I rarely take advantage off, because, undoubtably she deserves the best.

But let’s just say for the purpose of this post, we are all (as students are supposed to be) on budgets this Christmas. CH31

So here are a few special ideas of what you can get your mummies at a reasonable price!

Pebble art: this particular one if from Etsy and is £12, you can also buy these locally in St. Georges Market and Studio Souk Belfast.

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“Always my mum, Forever my Friend” Pebble Art @Etsy £12

Favourite Sweeties hamper: This is something that can look so effective if done correctly, to purchase these are £35, but to do them yourself they can be done under £10. Simply search ‘Living Vase’ on eBay and order one for £1.65. The purchase long wooden skewers for £1 from any supermarket, and get all your mums fav snacks, arranging them into a pretty bouquet of sweets!

Divinity Bracelet: These bracelets are super cute and each purchase made, contributes a donation to charity. (Divinity Website £17)CH1

Something Special: Not on the High Street do a large Variety of jewellery items, a lot of which are under £20. These can also be engraved which makes for a really special and personal gift for your mummy!

Dads the ‘Useful’ Gifts

Moving onto our fathers. My god, if there is a task on this earth, it is getting a gift for my dad. Probably thee most difficult person to buy for on my Christmas list. Last year I got him Pyjama bottoms as in the months prior to Christmas, he walked into the kitchen in his underwear, when I had my girlfriends staying over. So, I thought perfect gift, I’ll get him Pyjamas so we don’t have to have that awkward encounter again! He looked at me in disgust and sheer disappointment when he opened them and said;

“Pyjamas Chloe…

…Really?”

Needless to say, he wears them EVERY evening and my mum has to prise them off him in order to wash them. Point to moi for the perfect gift giving. Anyway, this year I am determined to get him something ‘useful,’ as he would say, which I do believe is what many dads want anyway. Here are my useful Gift Ideas for dads:

Knife Sharpener: (Amazon £10, supposedly the UKs No.1 sharpener)

Wallet: because his is literally held together with an elastic band:  (Not on The Highstreet £20)

Minger wireless key finder: make sure you’re never helping him look for his car keys, TV Remote or phone, ever again with this wireless remote control tracker!(Amazon £19) *Personal Favourite Idea*

(and still getting him new jammies too)

Siblings & Friends, little and cute gifts

Next member on this gift list are my sisters, I have three. So, over the years I feel I have become an exceptional gift giver for girlies. These gifts can really be for anyone! As we are keeping a budget here, I would opt to go with a gift box/hamper sort of present. This may sound boring or like a ‘crap’ present, but you have to be smart about it. First of all, choose your box size, depending on how much you wish to spend. I will always include the same basis if things within the gift box such as;

Lush bath Bomb (£3+ Lush Cosmetics )                                                                               Candle(£4 Dunnes Stores)                                                                                                         Jewellery trinket dish (Anthropologie £12)                                                                                  Cute mug/Travel mug (Dunnes Stores £5).

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More cute ideas for your box include:

A photo frame/Holder with your fav photo of you both. (Oliver Bonas do the nicest! £4-£12).                                                                                                                                                             A diary for the new year (Paperchase £10)                                                                                Joma Jewellery ‘A Littles’ Collection. These have the cutest little bracelets that are perfect for a Gift Box hamper and they include a little message with the bracelet. (Utopia Belfast or on the Joma Jewellery Website £16-£18)                                                                          Little Heart Frames: Little Heart Belfast do the cutest frames which can be personalised for your requirement, with a quote or a name! these are a perfect little addition to your gift boxes! (Little Heart £12)                                                                                                 Hairbands, depending if you’re gift receiver is a headband girl or not, there is a fab stall at St. Georges Market to fulfil all your headband needs. (St. Georges Market£15)

 

Younger Kids/babies                                                                                                                         

when the gift is really for the parents!

For anyone tasked with buying ‘babies first Christmas,’ or young children’s presents this year, it’s a difficult one. Realistically, are they going to remember it?…No. I would opt for a keepsake gift such as the ones shown below. These are my favourites!

Probably less fun for the children and more exciting for the parents, but a lovely gift all the same.

(Ink and Honey £12-£17)

 

Boyfriends/Brothers

if you’re buying for your boyfriend or your brothers then… good luck! As I’m struggling with that one myself!

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IMPORTANT NOTE!

In my personal opinion, the most important thing about gift giving, is all in the wrapping of the presents.

“May no present be too small to give, nor too simple to receive, which is wrapped in thoughtfulness and tied with love”- L.Baird

This little quote emphasis’ that we don’t have to be spending loads of money this Christmas, it is intact the thought that counts…just make that thought a good one!

To finish off;

My top 10 shops for Christmas Shopping shops:

  1. Anthropologie
  2. Sóstrene Grene
  3. TK MAXX
  4. Paperchase
  5. Oliver Bonas
  6. Lush Cosmetics
  7. Dunnes Stores
  8. Amazon (online)
  9. Etsy (online)
  10. Not On The Highstreet (online)

 

Chloe Hood is a final year Bsc in Communication Management and Public Relations student at Ulster University. She can be found at – Twitter: @chloekathryn4 and Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/chloe-kathryn-hood-224033153

Does Christmas Start too Early?

Does Christmas start too early?

 

We have this rule in my house, “Until we see the Coca-Cola advert or the Guinness one, then it is not Christmas!”. This has always been the way in my house; we never put our decorations up until the first week of December and don’t tend to get into the “Christmas spirit” until that time of the year. Every family has their own time for putting up their decorations or starting to watch Christmas movies or even talking about Christmas in general. Some families start on the 1st of November and some families don’t put their decorations up until the 20th of December; it simply depends on how you feel about Christmas.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Although each family has their own time to start the festive period, organisations have their own ideas also. Many companies start to present their instore decorations on the 1st of November, start displaying Christmas decorations even before Halloween and offer Christmas packages for gifts etc. around the same time.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Christmas is a big time of year for every organisation there is, and it is also their busiest. They tend to promote Christmas as soon as they can but doe that really help with sales. Some people like to start their Christmas shopping early just to have it done to allow them to enjoy themselves over the Christmas period; where as others tend to wait until December as shopping for presents is part of the Christmas season. Over the past few years. organisations have tended to chance and put out their Christmas offers extra earlier and earlier. Does this have an impact on their sales or does this simply irritate the public because of how early they start the festive season? There’s a possibility it’s both.

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People may feel pressured into quickly picking up bargains and sales to help with their Christmas shopping which then helps the organisations sales incline. On the other hand, people wish to enjoy Christmas, they don’t want to be sick of it halfway through December. Families, including my own, start Christmas on December first. This is when we watch our Christmas movies, listen to music and want to start our Christmas shopping. Christmas is more than shopping and presents for most families; its about the time we spend with family and friends. It’s a time to celebrate and enjoy time together. The main thing for most families is the magic of Christmas because of young children still believing in Santa Claus. Organisations play on this using the most impactful Christmas advertisements. For example, Coca-Cola have used to same Christmas advert of the lorry driving through towns as people of all ages stand out to see it for over 10 years which shows how much of an impact it has had on the public. Choosing the right time to share any media content and what you will choose is very important for a company. This year alone we have already seen how Iceland have chosen to use the new Frozen movie. This is a very smart decision for this company as it will become noticed by children very quickly which will result in them trying to get the attention of their parents to also watch the advertisement in turn allowing them to look at not just the fact of Frozen but of what the company have to offer.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Christmas is not all about the gifts and the money you spend; Christmas is more about the time you spend with the ones you love around you. Many people care more abut what they are giving and receiving from others, rather than how much time they get to spend with family and friends. It is the time of year that brings everyone closer together and allows people who don’t normally spend time with family or friends to do so. Organisations have the opposite view on this and constantly promote their products as early as they can for the cash flow, which is their main object but could possibly create more family and festive centred advertisements rather than simply targeting popular characters or movies etc. to attract peoples attention. Everyone has their own idea of Christmas, but does it really have to start as early as before Halloween and not have the festive aspect included?

 

 Hollie Walls is a final year BSc in Communication Management & Public Relations student at Ulster University. She can be found at:  https://www.linkedin.com/in/hollie-walls-565716198/ and Instagram – @holliewallss

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/

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas…

I am the last person you will find saying anything negative about Christmas, but this there is something that annoys me every year.

Does Christmas seem to come earlier each year? Like seriously, we haven’t even celebrated Halloween and the majority of supermarkets have their Christmas isles stocked with this year’s festive food and decorations. I am by no means a scrooge; I’m quite the opposite, but please, not in September.

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I am someone who cannot get enough of the festive season, but each year I wonder what the need is for stores to start bombarding us with Christmas so early.

Christmas can be an expensive time of year, after buying gifts, food, alcohol and having maybe one too many Christmas nights out, the pennies do add up. The Bank of England suggest that the typical UK household spends over £500 more in December compared to other months. So I get why people that have to buy a lot of gifts like to be well prepared and spread the costs over a couple of months, but does seeing Christmas and Halloween displays at the same time not really irritate you?

It wasn’t until I googled ‘why do shops start displaying Christmas so early’ that I came across the term Christmas Creep. Christmas creep is more commonly used in the US to describe the way retailers introduce Christmas ads, promotions and merchandise way ahead of the traditional start of the festive shopping season. For some shoppers it works, they like to be organised and have all their gifts bought before the clocks even go back but others (like me) get irritated when we see things being displayed before Halloween. Why? Because I honestly do not see the need, it’s not like we are going to forget and I doubt stores will run out of anything two months in advance.

Getting stock on the shelves early plays a large part in companies’ strategic marketing plans. Competition is high and a lot of stores make the majority of their money for the year during the festive period so I suppose it only makes sense to try and extend that success earlier into the year when it comes to present buying but does it make sense to display festive food months in advance that expire in October? Yes Asda, I am talking about you.

I came across this tweet in September

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Asda advertising their Mince pies with the packaging reading ‘juicy raisins, festive spices and crumbly pasty…because it’s not Christmas without them’ and apparently not September without Mince Pies either, right Asda?

Maybe I am just one of the shoppers that like to leave everything to the festive season. I love seeing the Christmas lights, love buying presents and the general buzz around Christmas time. As stressful as it is, there is something oh so satisfying about rushing about supermarkets on Christmas Eve to make sure that you have everything you need for a great Christmas. So personally, getting sorted as early as October seems like it would take away from the Christmas experience. My biggest fear would be that all the things we love about Christmas will lose their novelty. Before we know it, all the festive food we love, like pigs in blankets, mince pies, selection boxes and all the rest of it will just become a normal thing for families to have year round, but it’s the small things like this that really make Christmas what it is.

I guess my point is can we just let Halloween have its moment and enjoy the festive season any time from the 1st of November.

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Rant over.

Jenna Sloan is a final year Bsc in Communication Management and Public Relations student at Ulster University. She can be found at: Twitter – jennaaaaa_ and LinkedIn – https://www.linkedin.com/in/jenna-sloan-17152417b

Christmas Ad Mad

‘Holiday’s are coming’ Instantly your first thought is without a doubt, the Coca-Cola Christmas lorries, along with soft jingles and choir music starting up. That’s when I believe you know Christmas is truly approaching.

Coca-Cola-ad

Christmas ads on our TV screens are extremely popular throughout the whole of UK and Ireland. Now with social media, and the likes of YouTube thrown into the mix, it’s impossible to not be inundated with them and their catchy music, you either love them or hate them.

home aloneSpending on Christmas ads are rising each year with this year (Advertising Association, 2018) 6 ½ billion pounds were spent on seasonal advertising, beating last years record by 5%.

 

 

Each year the ‘main’ brands such as, Aldi, Coca-Cola, Debenhams, H&M, John Lewis, Lidl and Marks & Spencer, bring out their eagerly anticipated Christmas ad as a now fully cemented tradition which viewers enthusiastically critique.

What’s Christmas Ads without the music?

Music is a big part of Christmas, this year Elton John and Take that were a few to star in some on the main Christmas ads, but Coca-Cola outshines every year with ‘Holidays are coming’ being chosen as the favourite song to feature in a Christmas ad. (Advertising Association, 2018).

Is social media changing the game?

YouTube has over a billion users and people are turning to the site to instantly watch the best new Christmas ads of the year

Making a list of this, from the video stats from last year,

  • Number 5 –Sainsbury’s Christmas Advert 2014 – Christmas is for sharing

(19 million views)

  • Number 4 –John Lewis Christmas Advert 2016 – #BusterTheBoxer

(25 million views)

  • Number 3 –John Lewis Christmas Advert 2014 #MontyThePenguin

(26 million views)

  • Number 2 – John Lewis Christmas Advert 2015 – #ManOnTheMoon

(28 million views)

  • Number 1 – Sainsbury’s Christmas Advert 2015 – Mog’s Christmas Calamity – #ChristmasIsForSharing

(37 million views)

(Barnes: Nov, 2017)

The Worlds Number 1…

The German supermarket chain, Edeka. It’s tear jerker is number one around the world, online with its sentimental advert below.

 

This heart warming ad captures many hearts, but as the world’s number 1 ‘online’ doesn’t really make it the number 1 of all time?

What about the classics?

It’s hard to compare new advertisements of today that have so much social media backing surrounding them, compared to old masterpieces that were around before the world wide web even existed. For Example, The Kelloggs Christmas advert from 1991 with the little girl finding Santa and saying her cute little ‘Ho, Ho, Ho’ or the Coca-Cola ‘Holidays are coming’ ad from 1995 would surely be great contenders.maxresdefault

My Number 1;

Like the Classics, my number 1 has been around for 14 years, yet it is still played without fail on TV every Christmas.

When thinking about Christmas, the sentimental aspect always comes out on top for me, that’s why my favourite advert of all time is without a doubt,

The Guinness Christmas Ad

The quietness of Christmas Eve, and the chiming of the church bells as it turns midnight onto the 25th of December on the old gentleman’s watch. The picturesque scenes with the soft snow and the quiet city scenes from all over Ireland from Galway to Dublin and Belfast. The music of the soft flute at the beginning, building up a quiet symphony with violins more towards the end accurately bring that homely feeling.

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Of course the best Christmas ads can’t be determined with how many times it has been shown on tv, how many YouTube likes and views it has received or how many times you have cried watching them. Purely opinion, sentimentally and nostalgically grounded.

What would your favourite of all time be?

 

Alexandra McEvoy is a final year BSc in Communication Management & Public Relations student at Ulster University. She can be found on: Twitter – @alexmcevoy_ ; Linkedin – https://www.linkedin.com/in/alexandra-mcevoy-111ba5171/

Sources from;

https://econsultancy.com/the-top-10-most-shared-christmas-ads-of-all-time/ https://www.digital22.com/insights/10-most-viewed-christmas-adverts-of-all-timehttps://www.extreme-creations.co.uk/blog/the-marketing-stats-behind-2016-christmas-ads/