Alexa, play some Christmas bangers and chuck us a mince pie. Christmas is officially coming early and 2020 marks an exception to the ‘no-christmas-songs-until-December’ rule. A 3rd secret Santa this week? Go on then. We are all in fact, very ready for some festive cheer in our lives.
With Halloween having been and gone in a flash, we need something we can all look forward to in unison, hence the decision of many brands to release their highly awaited Christmas Adverts early. Why wait!? Advertising has always played a massive role in the build up to the festive season and in that respect, this year will be no different.
The Advertising Association has reported that UK advertisers are forecast to spend £724 million less than last year, falling 10.5% in the biggest drop for Q4 since records began.
As our lives continue to navigate digitally, it’s unsurprising that digital ad spend accounts for 57% of the total that the report states will be spent on marketing in the last 3 months of 2020.
However, the TV advertising budgets are forecast to be down only 2.7%, highlighting that this traditional form of advertising remains highly relevant. And hey, despite the undeniable transition to social media and our developing digital ways… everyone knows it’s the Christmas TV Ad that makes or breaks a campaign. And so it begins.
What should brands be focusing their Christmas Ads on this year?
And what should they leave out?
All the big dogs in this showdown will have faced the same decision, which is whether or not they let the undeniable effects of the pandemic play into their ads. Or should we say, to what extent.
Most people are bored stiff of talking about it, switching channels at the first sight of a bank promising that they are here for you through these times.
So should ads be looking to distract or entertain us, rather than to mope?
On the flip side, is it trivial and petty not to make any direct or indirect reference to a situation that we cannot avoid?
According to The 2020 Holiday Insights Report carried out by Tremor International, 47% of people said they wanted Christmas Ads to make them feel happy, over anything else. We already know how tough this year has been, so enough with reminding us, we Brits just want to feel a nostalgia-inducing fuzziness. And a bit of originality, if poss. We don’t ask for much.
We can usually expect the key players to pull out all the stocks to make a lasting impression in their Christmas Ad, here are the ones we felt did just that.
Their ad shows a young ballet dancer putting all her adorable efforts into training for her show, which is (unsurprisingly) cancelled. With the help of her loved ones, we see dramatic shots of her performing for her neighborhood who watch from their windows in awe, ending with ‘The show must go on’ - a strategic nod to the creative arts industry. Captivating, scenic and well played.
We join a father on his treacherous journey to the North Pole (defs a metaphor for the hardships faced this year) to deliver his daughter's letter to Santa on time. We are finally shown that the daughter's only wish is for her daddy to be home for Christmas, ending with 'Give something only you can give' - showing the importance of resilience, unity and family. This one was intended to tug at our heartstings, and we've fallen for it head first. A beautiful, non try-hard reminder to treasure those around us.
It sure as hell wouldn't be Christmas without this one. Our much loved department store opted for a theme surrounding 'give a little love' with exquisite vocals throughout from artist Celeste. The song lyrics reflect the gift of kindness, a trait which has been shown by the British public throughout the pandemic. The ad itself combines a mix of animations, moving art, cinematography and CGI which only they could get away with and shows their efforts in supporting the creative industry. Top marks.
The go-to supermarket chain of the UK have nailed their Christmas Ad this year, making it undoubtedly one of the best through it's simplicity, British wit and of course, a Britney song for a soundtrack. Making references to those who may have taken a holiday this year or overindulged in loo roll, Santa declares that 'there's no naughty list this year'. Quite right.
Taking a different route, M&S have launched their Christmas campaign with 9 simplistic adverts showcasing M&S food must-haves with voiceovers from iconic british actors such as Olivia Coleman, Tom Hardy and Helen Mirren. With a focus on charity this year, they’ve pledged to donate £2m to charitable causes which certainly means they’ll be appealing to consumers through their brand values.
Aldi’s Christmas Ad takes a cinematic approach with their familiar character Kevin the Carrot, who has proved popular in their campaigns for 5 years. After teasing us with a short video with the hashtag #WheresKevin, their full advert sees Kevin trying to get home to his family for Christmas. They even drop in references to the classic winter movies - Home Alone, E.T and Pirates of the Caribbean, we're sold.
The advert has received a slight negative backlash from online trolls who have critisized Sainsburys for attempting to be 'too woke' in showing a black family celebrating around the dinner table. We say, the trolls can have a day off. We love this depiction of a British family enjoying their year-on-year traditions and the excitement around coming home for Christmas!
The OGs have gone IN on the sentimental value with their advert, which shows a Micky Mouse being handed down through generations from a grandma to her granddaughter. The girl sees her grandma reminiscing and finds a way she can relive those memories. With a clear focus on family and tradition, they’ve opted for a powerful song choice alongside a theme of nostalgia, something very prominent for many in the festive season.
The weird and wonderful hilarity of a bougie, well-dressed goat strutting its stuff around a farm yard in some outrageous garments definitely deserves some time. The goat's onlooking owner remarks 'she's had a hard year, she bloomin' well deserves it' - in reference to the designer outfit - which is one everyone can vouch for. A light-hearted, optimistic advert which recognizes recent events without boring us to death.
The retailer have opted for an Ad portraying Christmas through the magical world of two children’s imaginations, showing that possibilities and dreams are endless. They led us down memory lane as the characters are seen flicking through an Argos catalogue to choose their gifts. Very extra, slightly Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.
It’s been noticeable that many of the more low-key contenders like Morrisons and Very have created ads that reflect our real lives through everyday situations, as opposed to going for the in your face, sentimental tear-jerkers. This level of day-to-day relatability definitely earns them brownie points with us.
Wrap It Up 🎁
After a solid assessment of the Ads above, it seems that most brands have dropped subtle references to the hardships faced this year, some more metaphorical and symbolic than others.
Although many of us do seem to appreciate the more 'real' and 'natural' approaches to advertising than the force-fed, shiny adverts that depict perfect families, this year it seems audiences have definitely appreciated the nostalgia and warmth told by a Christmas Ad story.