It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas

It’s that time of year again, the countdown is now a daily update as opposed to a monthly or weekly ‘warning’, smug looks are exchanged by those who are organised and panic stricken wide eyes respond from those (like me) who are not. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, it’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas.

I’m not one for celebrating the countdown from August, or even thinking about anything festive until late October, early November. I don’t think it’s fair on people who have children to be making comments about Santa Claus or present lists, unless a naughty moment calls for the odd ‘seasonal warning’ here and there – you know the one’s, Santa Claus is watching and I’ll be putting a call in later if you don’t behave…

I am certainly no Scrooge, I love Christmas and coming from a large extended family, I enjoy meeting with people and taking the time to share in some festive cheer (or cheers as tends to be the case with my family and friends).

Getting excited about Christmas is fun and everyone I know seems to have their own sign that the countdown for them has truly begun; for me it’s the launch of the Christmas adverts. Perhaps it’s because of the industry that we work in but I always get a warm feeling inside when large retailers and household brands showcase their seasonal TV adverts.

What really interest’s me is the story boards that each brand, or more deservedly their agencies, comes up with and the creative concept behind the piece, along with the call to action. Last year ASDA hit the headlines for all the wrong reasons with their ‘Behind every great Christmas there’s Mum’ campaign, but I really enjoyed it. I thought it made a valid point, certainly in our household, and the messaging was clear. Still you can’t please everyone.

Last night, whilst catching some evening TV, I stumbled across the Marks and Spencer Christmas advert. My first thought was, phew, I bet that cost a pretty penny but then watching the creative and following the story I was drawn into a land of make believe, with subtle product placements throughout.

The concept was certainly well thought through; a digital collage of fairy-tale moments packaged with a great big festive bow, sprinkled with celebrity faces, topped off with a clear marketing message; ‘Believe in Magic & Sparkle’. The whole piece was beautifully executed.

It’s only fair that I admit to not liking last year’s festive advert from John Lewis, I didn’t ‘get it’ and was never entirely sure of what all the fuss was about, other than the fact that a major retailer had put significant budgets into above the line (no real shock there!).

However… the advert from John Lewis this year is really impressive. I won’t go as far as to say that it brought a tear to my eye, but I did think about it. I love the animation (as it reminds me of a cross between Watership Down and Guess How Much I Love You) and the soundtrack from Lily Allen is to be nothing short of applauded. The story is Christmassy, without being sickening, and the call to action is subtly dropped in at the end to complete the piece. A gift wrapped story that is fit for the whole family, no matter what your age.

I’m really looking forward to watching more of the Christmas adverts as they hit our screens and will also be interested to see how many of the brands have thought to extend their creative into print, in order to engage further with consumers at a time of such high spend and competition.

People seem to have their favourite adverts during the festive season and I’m really interested to hear what your preferred options are. I do have an all-time favourite, which still gives me butterflies years on and I don’t believe that any brand has quite mastered or captured the spirit that this particular creative is able to deliver…

I give you, ‘Holidays are coming…’

Not only do I feel that this advert is synonymous with Christmas because the brand has chosen to build on it each year, as opposed to come up with something completely different, but the team have also built on it with competitions, digital activity and charitable donations.

An integrated campaign that can deliver year on year deserves a real festive thumbs up so well done Coca Cola, you get my vote every time.