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The Christmas Ad Formula
17/11/2017

Year on year the suspense grows in anticipation for the holiday TV advertisements, but as the suspense grows so does the expectation.

Year on year the suspense grows in anticipation for the holiday TV advertisements, but as the suspense grows so does the expectation. 

As much as the ad’s signify the beginning of the Christmas period, for the retailers it is their main opportunity to capture their audience before the highest spending season of the year. 
Whilst in the past retailers could depend on location and loyalty to keep buyers, since online shopping these things have lost importance. As Bryan Roberts, Analyst at Kantar Retail, said “when my mum did her shopping 30 years ago, the cost of her swapping retailers was a 90-minute drive. Now, the cost of switching retailers is a click of the mouse. Having a degree of emotional loyalty can count for an awful lot. A wonderful ad campaign can help the warmth and affinity we feel towards a brand.”
Christmas adverts are not just a nice festive tradition, they are a necessity for brands. Battle for the advert top spot is now as prestigious as the race for Christmas no. 1, with John Lewis holding the over all lead. 


From 2011-onwards John Lewis have mastered the ‘emotive’ advert, even if they have had some strong competition. The advert that began it all was the 2011 ad ‘The Long Wait’ which featured Slow Moving Millie’s cover of ‘Please, Please, Please, Let Me Get What I Want” by The Smiths, which saw a young boy count down the days to Christmas. He was seemingly excited to receive presents, however the advert took a twist when Christmas day arrived and the boy ran past his presents and straight to his wardrobe to get the gift he had bought his parents, tugging on every viewers heart-strings. 

‘The Long Wait’ encaptured perfectly the idea that Christmas is about giving, this advert admirably played on the emotion of it’s viewers and saw results with it sitting currently at 8 million views on YouTube. 

Whilst John Lewis demonstrate that making people teary eyed is a sure way to ad success, the next best option is animals. Cute, fluffy, baby animals preferably.
Remember Mog the cat? Sainsbury’s Christmas 2015 advert saw a cat cause havoc as the burnt turkey in the oven causes smoke to bellow through the house, before the firemen came to put it out and the whole village rallied together in true Christmas spirit to rebuild Christmas for Mog and his family. 

Sainsbury’s beat John Lewis to the top spot in 2015 with the help of their fluffy friend Mog, which is no surprise. Stats show that having animals in your advert produces results, when Compare the Market introduced meerkats their website traffic increased by 400%. Likewise, when McVitites filled their ad’s with kittens and puppies their market share increased by 26%, and when Cravendale released the advert ‘Cats with Thumbs’ it increased their sales by 8%.
With this in mind, it’s looking positive for Marks and Spencer this year as their 2017 Christmas ad features the one and only Paddington Bear. 

Studies show that when an advert is accompanied by music, the emotional reaction is higher than without music. More so, the study shows that when a well-known songs is played in an advert the emotional reaction is even higher. This is a large part of John Lewis’ success, from the 2011 cover of The Smiths, to 2017’s version of The Beatles, Golden Slumbers by Elbow they are no strangers to provoking emotional reactions from their soundtracks. 
 

Another popular theme throughout Christmas ad’s is the notion that Christmas, or giving, brings people together. People love the idea of buying thoughtful gifts and making someone Christmas, or spending quality time with loved ones, so naturally any advert that offers someone the opportunity to think about it is already in a strong position to impress. This years contenders include Debenhams, who’s ad tells a modern day version of Cinderella, in which a man and a woman are brought together by a shoe - a true Christmas story. Sainsbury’s have also tried to emulate this idea of ‘togetherness’ by including members of the public and employees in their advert as appose to actors. The ad shows a variety of families; friends; and colleagues singing the catchy (mildly annoying) song ‘A Little Bit of Christmas’ written for the ad. 
 

All of these factors play a big part in a successful Christmas ad, but what do you think makes a good advert? Can these ad’s continue to succeed using the same formula or will they need to rethink? Which one is your favourite? 

Lets us know by tweeting us @OrchardTweets

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