Battle of the Christmas Adverts

Yes, it’s that time of year again when every major retailer in the UK battles it out to become the nation’s favourite Christmas advert. Our TVs are flooded with emotional ads guarantee to tug at your heart strings or in extreme cases make you cry.

But there’s really no point trying to avoid them because there is no let-up or escaping it. That’s just a fact of life! As soon as that last firework on Halloween night goes off we are bombarded with festive adverts being thrown at us from every direction.

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It’s not enough anymore for brands just to have a TV advert. They throw everything apart from the kitchen sink at these campaigns. Taking advantage of merchandising opportunities, charity partnerships, and spin-off digital campaigns. It is certainly an expensive business, but has terrific PR attached to it, if it’s done well.

Once an area dominated by John Lewis has quickly become fair game.

With each year we have more and more retailers spending millions on multi media campaigns to stand out from the rest – with good reason. If done well and done right retailers can reap the rewards and spin off merchandise could be the most sort after toy that Christmas.

I’m sure we all remember the 2014 John Lewis Christmas advert? It told the story of Monty, a penguin who dreams of love at Christmas time. This emotional advert  was said to have ‘won Christmas’ and got the whole country talking about a fake CGI penguin. People become obsessed and when John Lewis released a £12 toy model of the penguin, which to no one’s surprise sold out super quick. People completely freaked out and bought this toy on eBay for up to £400. Its safe to say that people can get a little crazy during this time of the year.

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Whilst the TV ads are the main attraction, the ads usually go above and beyond by creating something for almost all multimedia platforms. John Lewis jumped on the Snapchat bandwagon with their own ‘Buster the Boxer’ filter in 2016, whilst Waitrose released an online interactive experience of the Robin’s journey, as well as a book available to purchase sold in-store. Brands at Christmas time are slowly creeping there way into every part of our lives.

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We can’t forget about the music that feature in these ads, because it plays a huge part in this battle as well. We are starting to see more often these songs that accompany the ads climb the music charts even hitting the number 1 spot sometimes. For example, in 2013, Lily Allen sung a cover of Somewhere Only We Know for the John Lewis Christmas advert. Her version surpassed the success of the original in the UK, topping the Singles Chart and staying at number 1 for 3 weeks whilst selling over 600,000 copies.

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Lily Allen | Somewhere Only We Know (John Lewis Christmas Advert)

The increased popularity of the Christmas advert in recent years is no doubt down to social media playing a huge role in heightening the campaign. With brands including hashtags in their videos social media users being able to take to twitter or Facebook and voice their opinion on the different Christmas ads retailers throw at them.

Whither you love them or hate them they are here to stay, and brands will no doubt have bigger, better and shinier campaigns in store for us next year.

 

Niamh McNally is a final year BSc in Public Relations student at Ulster University. She can be found on Twitter at @Niamh_McNally or LinkedIn at https://www.linkedin.com/in/niamh-mcnally-7a7079120/

What makes a Great Christmas Advert?

What makes a Great Christmas Advert?

For most, the first sign of Christmas is when the clock strikes midnight on Halloween night and all advertisers know this means the deluge of Christmas adverts will begin, and with that the competition of who has the best advert of the Christmas season? Over the years there have been many ones that have resonated and stayed with you long after the Christmas decorations are taken down. All of the best have different qualities that make you pick it as your favourite.

 

Some play on the heart for example the famous John Lewis, ‘Man on the Moon’ where many tears were shed over the poor lonely man who lived on the moon and the little girl on earth who desperately wanted to say hello. This advert which was a partnership with AGE UK was used to highlight the loneliness of elderly at Christmas, as well as year round, and tugged at the heartstrings of the general public who helped to generate £1 billion of sales for John Lewis in the Christmas period of 2015. John Lewis have long held the title of being the best at Christmas advertisements, usually accompanied with a song that reaches high in the top 40 of the U.K charts, for example the now infamous Ellie Goulding version of ‘Your Song’ which was then rumoured to be the first dance song of Prince William and the Duchess of Cambridge at their 2011 wedding. However, many others have attempted to take this coveted crown from the department store.

In 2014 the undisputed champion of the Christmas adverts appeared to be Supermarket Sainsbury’s who used history to make the perfect advert. Their depiction of Christmas Day 1914 along the trenches when German and British Troops ceased fighting and played a football match was praised across the U.K as one of the greatest Christmas adverts and a moving tribute on the 100th anniversary of the beginning of World War 1. The pairing of what happened along with the moving use of ‘Silent Night’ both in English and German saw The Independent brand the marketing strategy ‘Epic’. The advertisement went viral, within 24 hours had had 1.8 million views on YouTube. It was believed to be a risky advert as if the tone want right it would have caused outrage by the British public. The tag line of #ChristmasisMadeforSharing resonated and with the advert being partnered with the Royal British Legion the advert is highly recognised as one the most brilliant television adverts of the 21st Century. Some did object to the advert calling it disrespectful but this was far outweighed by the outpouring of love for the advert.

 

 

Then there are the classics such as the Coca-Cola advert of the lit up truck driving through cities and towns with the ‘Holiday’s are Coming’ playing the background which for many really signifies the beginning of the festive period.

So what make a great Christmas advert? Is it one that makes you cry happy or sad tears, one with a well constructed message behind it or one that just starts to bring the seasonal joy to people? Everyone has there own special advert they will always back up when the best Christmas advert comes around every year, and it nearly always changes when the next batch of advertising excellence shows the following year.

Rosa O’Farrell is a final year in BSc Public Relations. She can be found on LinkedIn at https://www.linkedin.com/in/rosa-o-farrell-2a796a23/ or on Twitter @rosaofarrell

Are you afraid of the dark… or afraid of Moz?

Like many people, I do await the Christmas TV ‘adverts’ around this time of year.

It’s that time of the year where high street stores compete in the sphere of PR, Advertising, and Marketing, (and in most cases all three), for the most original Christmas idea – trying to encourage consumers to ultimately go to their stores and spend a lot of well, money.

But in our modern digital age, these are no longer ‘just an advert’ between X Factor and I’m A Celebrity Get Me Out of Here these days.

In particular, anticipation for the ‘new John Lewis Christmas Ad’ has become public fascination with a multi-mix media communication operations behind it to generate as much publicity as possible; promoting with the biggest companies and brands such as Google, Spotify, Whatsapp, Sky and teaming up with the children’s charity Barnardos, with 10% of proceeds from merchandise of cuddly toys and mugs, going to young child carers.

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A spinning wheel of publicity, to reach as many people as possible, to get as many people talking abut you as possible, and to build excitement in as many people as possible, at the busiest time of the year.

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Previous John Lewis campaigns have included the compelling stories of the Man on the Moon, Monty the Penguin and Buster the trampoline bouncing Boxer; a recurring theme to center on emotional stories, and remove branding to ensure attention from a captivated audience.

Their latest campaign introduces us to the lovable Moz the Monster, which focuses on the tale of a little boy and his friendship with an imaginary monster living under his bed.

I have to admit, on first watching the advert, I felt underwhelmed from the lack of “Christmassy feelings” I got, and had to watch it a few times to understand what the message of the campaign was.

But as always, with major publicity, these campaigns don’t always please everyone.

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And as it turns out, not everyone is entirely happy with poor Moz.

Since the ad has aired, many parents have aired their concerns, with tweets joking “John Lewis putting the fear in every child thinking there is a monster under their bed! 10/10 guys.”

One annoyed parent also tweeted: “If your child is struggling with sleep related psychological trauma… John Lewis suggests you need to make them wait til Christmas for a bloomin’ night light.”

However, the glorious world of PR allows many to take on your own perceptions to the messages we receive from the media on a daily basis.

John Lewis’ tale is all about imagination.

My own interpretation is that to beat his fear of the dark, Joe creates an imaginary friend to overcome this fear… (albeit losing his recommended 8 hours sleep in the process).

But still, I believe the clever folk behind the John Lewis spinning machine aimed for the ad to be a very heart-warming, compelling story once again.

As always, parodies have made their way onto YouTube with millions of views, a nightlight featured in the ad was sold out online the next morning and #MozTheMonster and #JohnLewisChristmasAd was the top trending topic worldwide on Twitter, whilst many good-humored people also jumped on the bandwagon….

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Asking my fellow peers how much they thought cost to make the ad, the general answer was £500,000 to £1 million.

Add another £6 million… and the advert is reported to have cost a whopping £7 million to make!

Many are outraged to hear of such an expense, with public opinion being that instead of spending so much money on ‘one ad’ (that is ‘lackluster’ in general) this money could actually have been put to good use and given to charity – that the 10% ‘proceeds of merch’ to Barnardo’s just doesn’t cover it.

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However, brands are expected to spend a record £6 BILLION on Christmas advertising this year. This according to the Advertising Association, who state it is being driven by intense market competition, especially within the retail sector, and the rise of big-budget campaigns.

It believes spending on ads has jumped nearly 40% in just 7 years!

But with the likes of the delightful Ed Sheeran jumping on the Moz bandwagon – (and who doesn’t like Ed Sheeran these days?) is easy and cheap publicity in itself.

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So, was £7 million worth it on good ol’ Moz? Not Christmassy enough? Too scary for children?

I think my overall call to action is to start a petition to get the wee Man OFF the Moon for 2018.

Yup. (I will be posting the link for you all to sign it).

 

Chloe Campbell is a final year BSc in Communication, Advertising and Marketing at Ulster University. She can be found on LinkedIn: linkedin.com/in/chloe-campbell-337b26152 / Facebook: Chloe Campbell.