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

Holiday Heartstrings

Admit it, there’s always one that gets you… 

We all know that come October time the Christmas TV advertisements begin to make their way onto our screens, perhaps a pleasant reminder that the festive season is upon us? or perhaps not in some cases.

Each year, large companies, department stores, food and drink brands, retailers, and many more launch their Christmas campaigns. But my question is; is the secret to a successful PR campaign really tapping into the emotional side of things and pulling on the heartstrings of the public? I honestly don’t think there is one answer to this question, however, that doesn’t mean we can’t have a little chat about it here, eh?

From M&S to Guinness, John Lewis to Iceland, and Aldi to Boots; we’ve seen it all. I guess it’s a good time to insert a little disclaimer here that I, personally, love emotional Christmas advertisements, especially the tear-jerkers! Does anyone remember the Edeka 2015 ad? Of course you do (if not please see below for reminder) it was the Christmas ad that hit home with, well, just about everyone.

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Are these campaigns more effective than, say, feel-good Christmas ads? they may be more memorable that’s for sure. Of course the same factors still apply when producing a Christmas campaign; reaching the target audience, credibility, creativity, persuasion, and so on. This is where advertising and public relations become one, with the shared goal of convincing the public that they are in need of something or interested in a particular product which they would otherwise pay no attention to. It’s all about the appeal, emotional appeals automatically grab the attention of the public, as a way of ‘hooking’ them in, a very strategic way of advertising. In a way, this is a brief dissection of the makings of our favourite festive TV ads, but know it is not my intention here to ruin the magic that is Christmas advertisements, so please don’t stop scrolling. Please.

The idea behind the emotional appeal is knowing how the public will react, and what better time of the year than Christmas to do so? Each year, new advertisements are released; all with the intention of topping the last and competing with each other. For example, John Lewis are renowned for their Christmas TV ads, every year there is such anticipation circulating around what will feature in the advertisement and will it be a happy or sad one? Whatever they may be, they certainly always have us feeling warm and festive inside. Yes, they do! Just agree with me.

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We all know the ‘happier’ Christmas ads, i.e.; Coca-Cola, Marks & Spencer, Sainsbury’s, and Guinness (personal favourite). But are these really the ones that stick with us? The ones that we remember? It’s the Christmas ads that have meaning behind them, the ones that make us stop what we are doing and look at the TV, even if we are not watching it, the ads that make us look around and appreciate our homes and our loved ones, essentially, the ads that proclaim the true meaning of Christmas. Taking the emotional approach is a smart way of sending out a message, to ensure it will be received and listened to, however, with the more light-hearted advertisements; it is the rational appeal that is implemented, this addresses the more practical side of things, for example; Iceland advertising their Christmas offers and deals on party food, or Argos promoting certain products, and even in some cases; both appeals may be used.

In my opinion, nothing is as effective and powerful as a sad advertisement let alone a Christmas one. I think it all centres on the music, adding an emotional song to an advertisement can really resonate with some people and therefore makes music a very significant feature for these types of campaigns. A great example of this is the John Lewis Christmas ad back in 2012 when the song ‘Power of Love’ by Frankie Goes To Hollywood was featured, there was something very haunting and moving about it, enough to bring a tear to one’s eye (yes ok, my eye). Please watch the clip below to find out for yourself, you may well remember this ad, it’s for sure one I haven’t forgotten.

So is the secret to a successful PR campaign using emotion? all in all I guess there is no right answer here, but what we have discovered is that the emotional appeal to the public has certainly been beneficial, it has proven to be extremely effective, I mean, you can see for yourself on YouTube just how many views each of these advertisements has, whether this is down to how touching they were, the music featured, how powerful they were; we will never really know. So take the time and watch the next Christmas ad that appears on your TV, can you relate it to this post? I’ll leave you with that thought.

*A sad Christmas song now plays as you’ve finished reading*

Jayne Mullan is a 3rd year BSc in Communication Management & Public Relations student at Ulster University. She can be found on Twitter: @JayneMullan_