When is it acceptable to start feeling festive and mention the ‘C’ word? Surveying the office delivered a range of responses (and a range of emotions!); some felt it was from when Starbucks’ red cups arrived, for our American colleague it was after Thanksgiving, others won’t mention the word until the 1st December at the earliest (or Christmas Eve in some cases) and others felt it was okay to get into the festive spirit once the John Lewis advert was launched (okay that might have been just me…) but it got me thinking about the power and influence of the Christmas advert.
Over the past few years, high street Christmas adverts have become a phenomena unto themselves. John Lewis is hailed as the trendsetter – creating an advert focused on emotional storytelling rather than on a particular product. 2007 marked a shift in their advertising change with ‘Shadows’ but for me, it was the 2011 advert ‘The long wait’ that was a game changer and my favourite.
The Christmas advert seems to be getting bigger and better. In 2017 M&S pulled out all the tops with its Paddington Bear themed advert and they’ve previously featured celebrities including Joanna Lumley and Stephen Fry. Burberry is celebrating festival familial traditions in its 2018 Christmas film starring Naomi Campbell, M.I.A, Matt Smith and Kristen Scott-Thomas, and John Lewis has called upon the power of Elton John! It seems no expense has been sparred to win this battle.
No official figure has been released by John Lewis as to overall costs but the advertising budget is rumoured to be around £10m, with Elton’s fee coming in at £5m of this. A spokesperson for John Lewis was quoted in the Express stating that: “To date [the Christmas advert] has proven to be one of the most effective marketing campaigns in the industry, delivering an excellent return on investment.” This makes sense when you consider that these adverts are a crucial part of a company’s marketing campaign and a key driver of sales throughout the Christmas period – this is big business and one taken very seriously by retailers. In 2016 Craig Mawdsley, joint chief strategy officer at Sainsbury’s advertising agency, told the Independent that Sainsbury’s managed a profit of £24 for every £1 spent on its iconic 2014 World War One themed advert.
So which Christmas advert wins the hearts and minds of the Haggie office this year? Sainsbury’s ‘The Big Night’ was the resounding winner and it seems we are not alone; analysis conducted by Socialyse found that Sainsbury’s advert has the most positive reaction on social media. For what it’s worth, here are the Haggie top five festive adverts – do you agree?
4. McDonald’s – ‘Are you #reindeer ready?’
2. John Lewis – ‘The boy and the piano’