Posts tagged ‘Christmas’
I went to visit a friend in London last weekend and we decided to brave Oxford Street since it was their special traffic free VIP shopping day.
It was a great idea in principle, but thousands of soggy shoppers clashing umbrellas with each other doesn’t make for a very VIP-ish afternoon (although the fake snow was quite cool and the choir we saw were amazing). We ended up in John Lewis with cold, damp and aching feet, then stumbled across their complimentary mulled wine and mince pies. Perfect timing. I don’t even like mulled wine normally but these were exceptional circumstances. Then I looked round and realised we were in the Furniture Department. Which had sofas. Which were now all covered in weary shoppers taking a breather and making the most of the aforementioned food and drink. So we followed suit.
photo (of it looking rather quieter than when I was there) by DaveHill on twitter
I’m sure you can tell where this is heading. Sticky hot liquid + pasty crumbs + damp umbrellas is not an ideal environment for four figure (mostly cream) display sofas to be subjected to. The stock was already looking a bit grubby when we got there on Saturday afternoon, with drinks rings on coffee tables and mince pie cases everywhere, but I hate to think what state the sofas would have been in by the end of the weekend.
Don’t get me wrong, it was a brilliant idea to give shoppers a much-appreciated festive pick-me-up (and I never saw a member of staff objecting to the impromptu sit-in) and it resulted in a lot of love for the brand on twitter, but I don’t think anyone had considered that the cost of the activity would include probably having to sell off some sofas cheap as damaged goods.
Although it seems a bit early, what with Christmas still being six weeks away, all the big stores have rolled out their festive campaigns, so it’s as good a time as any to do a compare-and-contrast exercise. Let’s start with the supermarkets:
ASDA and Morrisons’ agencies seem to have been working from a very similar brief, but both executions appear to fall slightly short of explaining why their megadupasupermarket should be Mum’s one-stop-shop for Christmas and what they do to make Mum’s life easier at the most stressful time of the year.
But I rather like this little teaser that preceded the one above as although it may not be warm and fuzzy it does embody the Mum’s ‘gearing up for Christmas’ mentality.
And W&K have just (this bit is an update on 13/11) released their Tesco Christmas Compilation, which boasts a really nice insighty buy-your-fizz-from-us ’30 at the beginning and an equally lovely more tactical one for their click and collect service at the end (I like the cracker hat on the logo too).
Waitrose appear to have opted-out entirely and are donating their production budget (but not their airtime one) to charidee, but I suspect that we’ll still see some tactical work from their nearer the big day.
Aldi have played a blinder, with a campaign that works on a brand and tactical level, has a cracking strapline and still allows them wiggle room to run more executions of their Like Brands work in parallel.
Sainsbury’s finally broke their festive campaign on November 13th (a good week after some of the others – this bit is an update on the 13th too). Like Tesco they seem to be going for lots of vignettes rather than a Big Brand Lifestyle Ad – and with a nice approach focusing on making more ‘Christmas Days’ by encouraging their customers to enjoy the season, rather than just the day itself.
Meanwhile, Iceland have ditched the ‘That’s why Mums go to Iceland’ line in favour of something more foody, more aspirational and, let’s be honest, more upmarket. With every family now merrily portfolio shopping round several stores for their grocery needs it makes sense to try to encourage new customers to make a pit stop at Iceland too in the run up to December 25th.
As for the department stores, they seem to fall into two camps – ‘happy people with product’ and ‘like John Lewis please’.
M&S’s offering leaps all over the place. According to the youtube blurb it’s about using the Greatest (music) Hits to accompany what they believe will be the greatest hits, gift-wise this year. But I’m not sure that comes across. Bonus points for embracing diversity though (and semi-tastefully PRing it).
Debenhams seem to have stuck a foot in both camps with their Christmas Journey approach, however as their agency appears to be contractually obligated to get the actual Designers at Debenhams physically into every ad, this would have hampered their style a bit.
John Lewis have again gone for a mush-tastic approach with their snowman shopping for his snowlady – but here the brand feels like much more of an afterthought than it did last year. You could just as easily have plonked House of Fraser’s logo on the end frame. Or the Wool Marketing Board. Or even a dating agency.
Which leaves Littlewoods. Now that Mayleene Klass is off the M&S roster Littlewoods have snapped her up to sprinkle a little magic on their campaign (we’re like a department store! only more affordable!) – perhaps taking this a little too literally by turning her into Santa’s Helpful Fairy.
Finally (for now) I’m including Boots as there’s a lot of range cross-over with the Debenhams of this world and their festive campaign is rather fab. ‘Gifts that keep on giving’ is a lovely line – and a lovely way of lifting the standard ‘generic beauty gift’ into something much more thoughtful, valuable and personal.
As I said, this is just the beginning, with six weeks to go I hope we’ll be seeing lots of fresh executions. Otherwise we’re all going to get very bored very quickly. Bah humbug.
Christmas may come but once a year – but every year it arrives even earlier. Last week Tesco were advertising their Toy Sale “with You Know What only a couple of months away…”.
All the big furniture retailers would like you to order now in time for Christmas, but DFS have gone one step further and hauled out the tinsel already:
At least let us get past Bonfire night first.
Then there’s the are-you-sure-you-meant-to-do-that? advertisers, like South Essex Insurance Brokers on the back page of the Autumn issue of Rider, British Riding Club’s member magazine, which dropped through my letterbox last week. In this case, I rather suspect that someone at SEIB’s agency got their cover dates mixed up on a spreadsheet somewhere or sent the wrong artwork out…
I detected a definite shift this year towards homemade gifts, with jam, chutney, Turkish Delight and flavoured vodka all being unwrapped at my house on Christmas Day. Having heard similar stories over the last few days I can only imagine that businesses selling kilner jars and jam pot covers had a bumper December.
From Kirstie’s Homemade Christmas to Lorraine’s Last Minute Christmas, switching on the TV it was easy to get the impression that if you weren’t making your own gifts in 2011, you just weren’t trying.
It’s lovely that people are choosing to go back to basics and put more thought and effort than cash into their gifts, but all this domestic goddessing is slightly tricky to reconcile with my career in an industry whose primary purpose seems to be to get people to buy more Stuff.
I do appreciate that sometimes we create very worthy behaviour change – persuading people to eat more healthily, support charities or drive more sensibly for example. But when it comes down to it, the majority of the British marketing industry’s turnover comes from businesses that sell food, toys, cosmetics, alcohol, furniture and so on. Stuff we might want, but don’t necessarily actually need.
Ok, we do need to eat, but we don’t necessarily need an unlimited supply of Ferrero Rocher, a Heston Christmas Pudding or an Iceland prawn ring in order to celebrate Christmas properly.
Of course you can always reassure yourself that you’re not telling people they need more stuff, you’re just persuading them that should they happen to need item X, your brand is better than the alternatives.
I don’t know yet quite how the two trains of thought fit together. If we’re moving away from consumption as a measure of success and/or affection and towards something more personal and meaningful, what does that mean for the economy? But then there’s the positive impact on the environment to consider too…
My head hurts and I haven’t even tried that flavoured vodka yet.
Update, 02/05/2012 – if this post strikes a chord, you should read this great piece about making people want things vs. making things people want by John Willshire (found via Neil’s April Post of the Month nominations)
So, I said I’d deal with the M&S X Factor Finalists Christmas Commercial in a separate post.
Now obviously, this is part of a much wider M&S / X Factor tie up that includes sponsored airtime competitions, behind the scenes films and so on.
I assume the brief was about repositioning M&S for a wider, younger audience, but with a touch of festive fuzziness thrown in.
God knows how much they’re spending on re-edits as finalists drop in and out of the competition like yo yos and heaven help the poor agency account managers if Clearcast have insisted on re-approving each version.
The behind-the-scenes film looks they filmed all the original finalists – including the four who were dropped prior to the public voting. Which ended up being rather handy when Amelia Lilly came back in following the Frankie Cocozza drugs malarkey. In fact, a cynical type might suggest that having an extra four ‘maybes’ known to the public but not in the final was designed to deal with just this kind of commercial problem.
exhibit A: the origional ad (I think):
exhibit B: the latest version (we’re due another one about now):
I did a side-by-side comparison and all the edit changes currently happen between 30 and 45 secs. It’s a cunning plan – put the good acts likely to stick around at the beginning and end and the ones likey to get voted off in the middle to simplify editing.
Anyway, is the ad actually any good? IMHO, not particularly. It doesn’t have enough warn and fuzzy family stuff to jerk the heartstrings a la John Lewis and the X Factor lot aren’t big enough yet (singly or together) to endorse as huge a brand as M&S. So it ends up as more of an ad for the TV show than the retailer.
I wonder if this December’s trading (and viewing) figures will bear me out?
There are some great Christmas ads already airing…and some not so great ones too.
Boots has continued the Here Come the Girls theme with a crack team of women getting Christmas sorted while everyone else is asleep. It’s engaging, funny, on brand and totally relatable. It also stands up to repeated viewing, which is a good job since it has been on air for several weeks already:
John Lewis has done it again with their ‘thoughtful kid’ ad, that judging by twitter seems to have reduced most Mums to tears on first viewing. I’m not sure how this one will stand up to weeks of airing though:
Waitrose’s School of Christmas Magic is great too – another double hander from Delia and Heston but interestingly focusing on semi-scratch solutions to Christmas catering:
There are, however, a few less impressive festive ads out there as well.
Argos use blue aliens to demonstrate why you should avoid stressmas shopping and ‘check and reserve online’ all your gifts and then pop down to Argos to pick them up. I’m not sure that slagging off high street shopping then suggesting you would be better off doing all your shopping by reserving online then shelpping down to the Argos store to pick it all up is actually a winning strategy:
I found the Argos ‘making of’ ad on youtube (why do so many brands feel the need to add a Making Of ad as if they’ve just made a major movie, complete with director, cast and client interviews?) and the client talks of how the campaign is brave, bold, arresting and “really bringing to life the dichotomy of the high street at Christmas”. I think you might be overthinking it a bit love – and that’s coming from a Planner…
I posted about the Littlewoods Christmas ad the other week (it seems to be to be rather heavily inspired by a scene in Love Actually), but even after having viewed the ad several times and written about it, talking to an agency bod this week I merrily misattributed the ad to Argos, which doesn’t say much for its memorability. I’m also not sure in Austerity Britain that ‘make your family happy by buying them lots of stuff’ is the way to go:
So some Christmas Crackers and a few Festive Flops. Let’s see what the next four weeks brings.
PS I know I haven’t mentioned the M&S X Factor ad, but I think it deserves a whole post to itself…
The accompanying card asks me to ‘wrap up something good for someone who deserves a bit of goodness’. So my very recently redundant friend (anyone in the North need a brilliant design/integrated account director on a short-term contract?) will be getting her present wrapped in little robins or snowmen this year.
I’ve been doing a little online detective work this evening.
Except it wasn’t the ad above. ‘Your Song’ had been replaced by ‘How Deep Is Your Love’. I have to say I prefered it!
I can’t seem to embed the version I’m on about, but you can view it here at Creativity Online (who seem to supply AdAge with content). I think the track used is by The Bird and the Bee, from the Sex and the City soundtrack:
Trend fans, I can report that this Christmas its all about Penguins.
As of this morning, my haul of Christmas cards had penguins outnumbering robins 3 to 1.
Santa even took his penguin friends with him to open the Harrods Christmas department (in August, so I think the snow might be courtesy of photoshop):
Want to be in with the in-crowd this Christmas? Looks like you need the Pingu boxed set: