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!

Lidl

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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

Stop Funding Hate…public service or media bully?

Stop Funding Hate is a lobbying group set up in August 2016 to “take on the divisive hate campaigns on the Sun, Daily Mail and Daily Express by persuading advertisers to pull their support.”  One of its first high-profile ‘targets’ was Lego at the end of 2016, convincing the company to stop advertising and cut all ties with The Daily Mail.  Since then the lobbying group, founded by Richard Wilson, has continued to go from strength to strength, currently boasting 86,000+ followers on Twitter and 261,000+ followers on Facebook.

The next most documented ‘target’ of their online lobbying this year has been popular stationary shop Paperchase.  After running a front page promotion in The Daily Mail offering consumers the chance to get their hands on some free Christmas wrapping paper, Stop Funding Hate tweeted:

“After a torrid few weeks of divisive stories about trans people, is a Daily Mail promotion really what customers want to see @FromPaperchase?”

After initially responding by thanking customers for bringing the promotion to their attention and saying they’d look in to and review it, the company soon released a statement on Twitter saying;

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You would think with a public apology the whole ordeal may have been over for Paperchase, they’d be able to go on about their business and just be more selective with their advertising in the future.  However, following its surrender to the demands of Stop Funding Hate and its many supporters, Paperchase faced a massive backlash from the other side of the fence, judging the company for backing down and apologising.

It really is true what they say…you can’t please everyone.

Paperchase is not the only highly-publicised ‘target’ of Stop Funding Hate this year.  Not to be outshone by Moz the Monster – Buster the boxer features in another Christmas advert this year, with the lobbying group urging John Lewis to rethink its choice of The Daily Mail for its advertising.

 

In the UK print media has been continually dwindling with more and more publications being forced to close down each year.  The question could be asked, are Stop Funding Hate trying to destroy the print media industry all together?

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It is fair to assume that Stop Funding Hate will continue to lobby and push for businesses to stop advertising in the Sun, Daily Mail and Daily Express – publishing daily a breakdown of businesses who still choose to advertise within them, as if you name and shame.

But what does this mean for the marketing communications industry?

Whether you veer towards the left, the right…or find yourself standing in the middle of it all a little confused!  There is no denying, Stop Funding Hate is definitely a force to be reckoned with.  But should advertisers be listening to them and should PR practitioners be concerned about the reputations of the businesses they represent deciding to advertise in The Daily Mail?

While you may not agree with everything that The Daily Mail stands for, there is no denying that it is one of the most read newspapers in the UK, along with the immense popularity of Daily Mail Online – a business can achieve massive coverage with one small advert in The Daily Mail, making it a very lucrative advertising tool and potentially worth a little backlash from the select few who object to the newspaper.

If we can learn anything from the case of Paperchase, it is that if you are going to make a decision to advertise somewhere, convict to it and don’t back down and apologise if a few people aren’t happy with it…after all, you can’t please everyone.

 

Jonny Allen is a final year Communication, Advertising and Marketing student at Ulster University.  You can find him on LinkedIn here – https://www.linkedin.com/in/jonny-allen-257237112/

 

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.