Written by Suzanne Haysler • Published 21st December 2015 • 6 minute read

Brand recognition, loyalty and, ultimately, sales are of utmost importance at this time of year so it’s no surprise that retailers are going above and beyond to create the Christmas Campaign of the year, hinged on emotional and impactful television ads. Designed to make the viewer laugh, cry and most importantly buy, we’ve picked our top five!

  • The Tear Jerker

    Who: John Lewis: ‘Man on the Moon’
    What’s all the fuss about? You can’t deny the power of the John Lewis Christmas ad. The retailer has become synonymous with Christmas, with viewers around the UK waiting excitedly for their newest creation. This year’s campaign tells the story of a young girl who tries to send gifts to a man who lives on the moon. Made in partnership with Age UK to raise awareness for elderly people alone at Christmas, this ad is in keeping with John Lewis’ special brand of epic, heartfelt stories.
    What can we learn from this? In a period of frenzied consumerism, John Lewis’ ability to transcend this and produce high quality, emotional content year after year really sets them apart. Known for their ethical and socially responsible outlook, combining a charitable message in their Christmas marketing is fantastic for John Lewis’ branding and engaging with their audience. Even coverage that argues that John Lewis have been outdone by the likes of Sainsbury’s and Harvey Nichols proves that they have established themselves as the benchmark by which other Christmas campaigns are measured by.
    Previous performance: See previous gems such as their ‘Snowpeople in Love’ from 2012 and last years ‘Monty the Penguin for further proof of JL’s festive know how. Our favourite advert of the year!

  • The Family One

    Who: Sainsbury’s: ‘Mog the Cat’
    What’s all the fuss about? Following their powerful, and somewhat controversial, offering from last year (see below if you need a reminder), Sainsbury’s has gone all out to compete with other retailers. Bringing Judith Kerr’s ‘Mog the Cat’ back to life, the ad shows Mog in a series of mishaps culminating in a fire in her family home. In an ending that mimics the Christmas classic “It’s A Wonderful Life”, the neighbours all come to help clean up the house and celebrate the festive period together.
    What can we learn from this? This campaign is clever on many levels. Firstly, the choice of Mog rather than a newly created character has ensured that this ad will not only bring brand recognition to a younger audience but ignite nostalgia in their current market – the audience that are ultimately responsible for the Christmas shopping! Sainsbury’s have also made the most out of this audience engagement on social media, really understanding the importance of a fully integrated campaign.
    Secondly, by teaming up with Save the Children to promote children’s literacy and reviving the Mog books for a new generation, Sainsbury’s have created a Christmas campaign that will reach far beyond this TV advert. In fact, the books popularity has made Judith Kerr the oldest author to have reached the number one spot in the UK charts. It’s a lesson in thinking creatively about how to generate extra coverage from a simple Christmas campaign.
    Previous Performance: The ad that gave the mighty John Lewis a run for its money last year. Watch ‘Christmas Day Truce’ here.

  • The Trip down Memory Lane

    Who: Coca-Cola: ‘Holidays are coming…’
    What’s all the fuss about? So much more than just an advert, the iconic Coca-Cola Christmas Trucks have become an honoured tradition. It was back in 1995 when they first appeared on TV screens and now they mark the opening of the festive period.
    What can we learn from this? Whilst other retailers push themselves to go bigger and better every year, Coca-Cola have found a formula that works. Their consistency has established their ads as the proprietor of Christmas spirit with many proclaiming that ‘It’s not Christmas until the Coca-Cola advert is shown’. Facebook fan groups have been set up, dedicated to the subject, proving that a solid marketing campaign can reposition an image, a product, or a company in the minds of an entire culture.
    Previous Performance: Coca-Cola trucks since 1995 – we wouldn’t have it any other way!

  • The Comedy Offer

    Who: Aldi: ‘Man on the Moon Parody’
    What’s all the fuss about? In response to the ‘John Lewis’ effect, Aldi have provided a tongue in cheek parody of the ‘Man on the Moon’ campaign. Whilst we’re sure that John Lewis weren’t best pleased with the joke made at their expense, Aldi has definitely gained ‘cool points’ with this year’s advert.
    What can we learn from this? Firstly, the importance of picking the right campaign to parody. By selecting the infamous John Lewis advert Aldi not only ensured their offering was topical but also cleverly utilised the ‘buzz’ around Man on the Moon, hijacking the exposure.
    Secondly the importance of maintaining your brand identity, even when parodying another. By amalgamating the usual Aldi format with an accurate depiction of the John Lewis advert, Aldi made sure their brand voice wasn’t drowned out. Plus, it gave the British Public a much needed laugh in a sea of tear jerkers – hats off to Aldi for this one.
    Previous Performance Last year’s offering showed different Christmas celebrations around the world with a cameo from Jools Holland. We liked that one…we like this one…

  • The ‘so bad its…no it’s still bad’

    Who: Robert Dyas: We’re Robert Dyas and we’re gay. And straight. And bi…
    What’s all the fuss about? This is possibly the most talked about ad of the year. The video shows staff members declaring their sexuality whilst showcasing the stores various products and has left the public asking…why? The slightly strange offering has caused a media storm and has gone viral in a matter of days but many viewers have been left perplexed as to the meaning behind the ad.
    What can we learn from this? Oh so many things. So many that we’ve created an entire list:

    • Not all publicity is good publicity: It can’t be denied that the campaign has increased the brands exposure and has created a talking point out of a DIY store. However, comments have been largely negative and it’s left their customer base confused and, in some cases, really quite angry.twitter robert fdyas
    • Pick the right parody: Some media commentators pointed to American ‘Red House’ adverts and suggested that Robert Dyas are trying to pull off a parody a la Aldi. The problem with this is that, unfortunately, the Red House ads are basically unknown, having aired in 2005 in the US. Pick something your audience will recognise and, like Aldi above, delight in it being given a humorous twist.
    • Make sure your messaging is clear: Take a tip from Aldi (did we mention we quite like the Aldi advert) and make your messaging clear. Whilst Aldi’s parody clearly promotes their price checker promise in time for Christmas, Robert Dyas’ is more than a little confused. What is it they are actually trying to promote? Neither funny nor heart-warming, it misses the mark by quite a way.
    • Having said all that, it is nice to see a traditional retailer taking a risk with their Christmas campaign. Sure, it’s ill-conceived and could have been wittier but it shows a certain responsiveness from the Robert Dyas team. Cast your minds back to their polished campaign in 2014 (no us neither) that garnered only 871 views on YouTube. Compared to this year’s offering that trended on Twitter for more than 5 hours on the weekend of launch, it’s easy to see the merits of taking a risk. It’s just a shame they didn’t roll the dice on a more intelligent offering.

    Previous Performance: Nothing that even compares to this…