It’s hard to believe that we’re already 12 days into the New Year and are all back to a world of piercing early morning alarm clocks and a seemingly endless backlog of work emails. It might therefore be nice to review the myriad of Christmas adverts that flashed across our screens over the festive season.
It is interesting to think about the effects certain brands can have at Christmas, how they can change public opinion, and more surprisingly, what people have come to expect from them during the festive season. There were many different strategies adopted by companies seemingly in attempt to try and stand out from the crowd. Be it a festive song or a heart-warming tale of giving a gift to remember, these campaigns are becoming second nature to big brands of the retail industry.
Another intriguing development during this time is what people have come to expect from a brand in terms of their advertising. This is evident in the recent wave of anticipation that surrounds retailers Christmas adverts. With John Lewis already breaking hearts in past years, last year proved to be no exception. With fierce competition between retailers, the expectations for 2015 were higher than ever and a diverse range of strategies were utilised to help bring in business for the New Year.
Several companies seem to have latched onto the idea of the ‘emotional advert’ with companies such as Burberry and Sainsbury’s creating adverts to tug at the heart strings of viewers. Some companies even went as far as creating parody versions of competitor adverts in order to add a comical side. This was most notably apparent with Aldi, creating a spoof version of the John Lewis ‘Man on the Moon’ advert. Taking advantage of the new parody law, which came into force a year ago, that states as long as the parody ad is not a substantial copy of the original, it does not infringe on the copyright laws. The benefit of this is that it creates discussions about your brand on the back of a high profile advert that annually takes social media by storm. Many would argue that it is a blatant copy of someone’s hard work; others would call it an opportunistic marketing move. Only time will tell if the original ad or parody will be the success story.
Celebrity endorsement is a hugely popular approach to beating the rivals during the festive period, with the fight on to gain a hugely influential celebrity, relevant to their industry. Last year’s Waitrose advert featured celebrity chef Heston Blumenthal, promoting his favourite products to purchase this year. For many, this instantly sparks up the thought ‘if Heston Blumenthal enjoys food from Waitrose, then it must be good!’ similar to, ‘if Katy Perry is wearing the latest clothes from H&M, then they must be fashionable!’ In fact, Katy Perry went as far as to record a Christmas track for the advert this year for H&M, named ‘Every Day Is a Holiday’.
Music can play a large part in a successful marketing campaign. Lily Allen’s ‘Somewhere only we knew’ and Coca Cola’s ‘holidays are coming’ jingle are two extremely memorable tunes which people instantly associate with the Christmas period. Not only is it extremely beneficial for the artists to have their track broadcast numerous times a day to millions of viewers, but these adverts are then linked to potential Christmas hits. Hearing these tunes away from their adverts can also help generate a quick link back to the advert when heard alone; such as on the radio.
To stay on top of trends and to ensure originality, companies need to stay one step ahead of the game at all times. So much so that many retailers will already have started planning their next Christmas campaigns. Along with early planning, many companies are adopting the ideology of ‘the golden circle’. At the centre of a business there should always be a ‘why’ – a core belief of the company, which inspires employers to drive the business to success. However, this is regularly overlooked by many companies, who skip the ‘why’ and go straight to the outer two rings of the circle: ‘how’ and ‘what’. By doing so, the consumer can no longer relate to the business as companies do not know why they do what they do themselves.
It can be assured that, in essence, ‘people don’t buy what you do; they buy why you do it and what you do simply proves what you believe’ as said by inspirational author Simon Sinek. Companies that utilise this methodology of branding create like-minded customers and long lasting brand loyalty. It is even more relevant at this time of year when customers are looking to buy gifts that hold sentimental value and are looking for motivated reasoning for recurring purchases. Take John Lewis’ current Christmas advert for example. This does not portray the traditional message of ‘buy our great products for low, low prices this Christmas, they make great presents!’ Instead, it challenges the status quo and presents to us the belief that the act of giving, not necessarily to your nearest and dearest, and thinking of others is what Christmas is about. This is something many brands overlook, rushing to show off their festive bargains before the next competitor instead of portraying what they believe in. With this in mind, people can feel a strong attachment and emotional connection with the John Lewis brand, allowing them to believe that the company is worth investing in.
It is fascinating how brands can become such an integral part of someone’s life and how they are able to alter popular opinions about certain times of the year. So maybe take a step back and look at your own brand and ask: ‘does your company utilise the golden circle?’ and what steps can it take to adopt this. It is also important to think about what your company represents and how could it change people’s lives?