Battle of the Christmas Titans

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11 December 2018
A screen grab from one of the most popular ads this Christmas
Marks & Spencer’s Christmas ad

Retail Christmas creative campaigns, along with the appearance of mince pies, the Pret Christmas sandwich and Michael Bublé, have long been an integral part of the run up to Christmas. These ads are the Leviathans of the annual advertising calendar, dominating conversations both online and in the workplace.  

At Phipps, they have also become a topic of intense discussion, with candy canes at dawn to decide which is the best rendition of the Christmas spirit.

Going Social 

But in a social world, are the multi-million-pound TV ad campaigns now stepping back to play second fiddle to the social trend?  Take Iceland and its palm oil campaign which got nowhere near the TV and yet rocketed to fame with 65m views through YouTube and a live PR campaign starring a very convincing remote-controlled model orangutan in London that has been viewed by thousands on social media. Iceland has skyrocketed to the second most talked about supermarket after Aldi; prior to the campaign Iceland was ranked seventh.  Opportunistic cause related marketing or a well-planned canny PR and social campaign?

We’ve all seen the main event for John Lewis, a massive budget, all-singing, all-sequined epic of the musical life of Elton John.  But in response to this, the John Lewis Partnership also created by the a gently mocking Waitrose ad poking fun at the John Lewis ad– a highly popular move that generated a lot of positive interaction for both Waitrose and John Lewis, securing a high rank in the festive ad rating charts.

And then, for a stroke of true genius, John Lewis Partnership produced the “real” John Lewis Christmas social campaign. This focused on a-day-in-the-life of computer science lecturer John Lewis at Virginia Tech University, Blacksburg, VA (a mere 3,683 mi from the nearest John Lewis store)!  At this time of year, Mr Lewis always receives countless tweets from shoppers inquiring about a range of John Lewis mundanities from delivery details to which items they have in stock.  A campaign that ran on Twitter alone and has become one of the most talked about this year.  

Making the consumer king 

High street favourite Marks & Spencer’s took an honest, simple, product focused approach, encouraging conversation around shoppers’ favourite M&S products through the hashtag #mymarksfave on Twitter and Instagram.  What was so refreshing about this approach is that it put genuine Christmas fare and family-and-friends-cheer at the heart of the campaign and allowed an enthusiastic social spin off.

These campaigns are some of the wise and witty ways that brands are getting more bang out of their buck this Christmas.  

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