View a full range of our ebooks

View full library


Our Location

The PHA Group
117 Wardour Street,
Hammer House,

0207 0251 350
PHA Digital Studio
Fourth Floor,
47 Dean St,

0207 0251 350
PHA Finance Department
117 Wardour Street,
Hammer House,

0207 0251 350

Top 5 Christmas Consumer PR Campaigns

Top 5 Christmas Consumer PR Campaigns

With the festive season upon us, it’s time to look back at some of the best Christmas campaigns from over the years. As we all know, as soon as December hits, people switch into panic mode over presents, cooking and festive

Photo by on Unsplash

decorations. Brands capitalise, hoping to engage and excite customers with their festive campaigns. A report published by National Building Society stated that £77.6bn was spent last Christmas. Brands are willing to spend millions each year on their Christmas campaigns, hoping to secure a healthy return on investment.

So, without further ado; here are our top five Christmas consumer campaigns

  • Coca-Cola

Red trucks swiftly moving through a snowy landscape, lighting up towns as they go. Such a simple idea but an idea which has stayed in the minds of consumers all around the world for years. The iconic ‘Holidays are coming’ advert, launched back in 1995. For many people the festive season doesn’t start until they see the Coca-Cola advert, that’s quite an impression to have over consumers.

The Coca-Cola Christmas truck tour is also back this year, to hand out free goodies to fans up and down the UK. The hashtag #holidaysarecoming has already amassed 330,000 posts on Instagram. Coca-Cola has shown that its brand can adapt from the 1920’s to almost 100 years later ever evolving with new trends and apply them to their marketing strategies.

  • John Lewis

Over the last ten years, John Lewis Christmas campaigns have become a staple part of our festive season. Never afraid to splash the cash, with the first Christmas campaign in the John Lewis collection costing £6m. By creating popular and memorable campaigns it has had a direct influence on sales. The long wait campaign in 2011 reached half a million views in its first 24 hours. That Christmas saw sales up 9.3% year on year in the five weeks prior to December.

The following year saw an even bigger upsurge in sales, with a massive 44.3% increase thanks to the snowpeople in love campaign which helped John Lewis break into the £800m mark in sales.

  • Sainsburys

Not known traditionally for their Christmas campaigns or in the league as Coca-Cola or John Lewis, but Christmas 2014 was Sainsbury’s year. Inspired by teaming up with the Royal British Legion they retold the story of the Christmas day football match. The almost four-minute-long campaign recreates one of the most famous moments of the first world war.

The supermarket shows the tale of the Christmas day peace in the trenches, a moving and very human story focused on the infamous football match in no man’s land. A young British solider passes on a chocolate gift to his German equal, which then leads to the end message ‘Christmas is for sharing’.

All proceeds that were made from the £1 chocolate bar advertised in the campaign, were donated to the Royal British Legion.

Another hit produced from Sainsbury’s which exceeded all expectations is ‘Mog’s Christmas Calamity’, the 2015 campaign reached over 38 million views on YouTube. With many claiming that Sainsbury’s campaign blew John Lewis’s out of the water for 2015.

  • McDonalds

McDonald’s has been picking up momentum each year with their creative campaigns. In 2017 they’ve created the #ReindeerReady campaign.

The brand tells the story of a young girl on a shopping trip with her father who is saving a McDonald’s carrot stick to give to Santa’s reindeer. But when they return home, her sibling points out that one carrot won’t feed Santa’s army of reindeers, and so they travel back to McDonald’s to get more carrot sticks.

The fast-food brand is hoping similar success to last year, which delivered an increase in sales and brand awareness.

Emily Somers, VP of marketing and food development at McDonald’s goes on to say “We’ve been selling carrot sticks for more than 10 years in our restaurants, it’s something we’ve always done. And it’s absolutely on point with the [wider] message around Christmas”.

  • Heathrow

The nations favourite teddy bears return to our screen this Christmas for part two of Heathrow’s Christmas campaign. Last Christmas we were introduced to Doris and Edward Bair. The campaign tracks two bears as they land at Heathrow airport, go through passport control and walk through arrivals, waiting patiently for someone to claim them. At the end of the commercial the Bair’s transform into elderly adults and it shows that they have been greeted by their grandchildren.

This year it takes a more detailed look at the Bair’s life together with the motto ‘Fly to someone, not just somewhere’



Ignore the hype – these are England’s Ashes


“Wait, what’s that?”

As Christmas approaches, you might be forgiven for wondering if the faint whistle you hear as the snow begins to fall is that of the mystical Polar Express steaming along. Christmas spirit, Christmas cheer!

Alas, you could not be more wrong.

No, this is not what you are hearing. Image courtesy Matt Johnson on Flickr.

No, it’s nothing Christmassy, or vaguely interesting for that matter. It’s just the Australian hype train, tooting louder and louder as it chugs over the tracks, heading inexorably for total oblivion.

Pre-series wars of words are always drab in international sport, but nobody does mind-numbing tedium with the relentless efficiency of the Australian players and media.

Which leads me to question: Why? Why do they feel the need to do this? Why must we repeat this exasperating routine with the predictability of a mid-game Andy Murray grimace?

They do it because they are worried. And well they should be.

Ignore the hype, and forget the experts (that one’s for you, Mr Gove), England are coming home with the Ashes.

Andy Murray reacts to the latest wave of hot air blowing over from Australia. Image courtesy of habervideotv on Flickr.

Australian Panic

All the pre-series chatter predictably focussed around the absence of Ben Stokes, but the make-up of England’s side is pretty much settled upon for the first Test.

The same can’t be said of Australia, whose erratic selection panel have landed upon the perfect mathematical formula for complete disarray. Talented opener Matt Renshaw has been dropped for debutant Cameron Bancroft. Wicketkeeper Tim Paine has been ferried back from the underworld by Charon for his first Test appearance in 7 millennia. Shaun Marsh has been recalled for the 950th time to plug a middle order gap with an even larger middle order gap.

Chaos theory. Good stuff selectors.

English Serenity

By contrast, the English side is largely settled. Mark Stoneman is the new Andrew Strauss but better, and Dawid Malan has nailed down the 5 spot by dispatching teenagers to the boundary ropes in warm-up matches. Stokes’s absence is a shame, but opens the door for Woakes, Moeen and Bairstow to move up the order, and another bowler to show that they are equally angry and prone to profanity as our dear Ben.

Winkling out Wickets

For all that Mitchell Johnson brought fire and brimstone in the last Tour down under, the metronomic control of Ryan Harris at the other end stemmed the run rate and tied down the England batsman.

Then enter into the equation that Tim Bresnan (the cricketing equivalent of James Milner) had an unbelievable series in Australia, and you realise it isn’t that difficult after all.

Broad and Anderson may not have express speed, but they are cunning operators – and are far less likely to break down with injury during the series. And for all that Cummins and Starc are quick, their bowling will be far more likely to disappear to the boundary should they get it wrong.

Stuart Broad is very good at cricket. Image courtesy of Windies Cricket on Flickr.

How they compare:

So, all things considered, how does a composite Australia-England XI actually look?

David Warner vs Alastair Cook

One is angry, punchy and moustachioed, one is handsome, stoic and clean-shaven. Unfortunately the former is scoring far more runs.

Cameron Bancroft vs Mark Stoneman

Two Ashes debutants, but Stoneman’s experience and rock-solid personality means he partners Warner at the top of our order.

Usman Khawaja vs James Vince

James Vince is about as reliable as Robert Mugabe reading a resignation speech. Khawaja all the way.

Steve Smith vs Joe Root

Steve. Smith. Most boring name in the world? Yes. Most overrated player in the world? Maybe. National treasure and God’s messenger on earth like Joe Root? Absolutely not.

Peter Handscomb vs Dawid Malan

Battle of the incredibly average nobody’s. Give it to Handscomb, though I’m not sure anybody cares.

Tim Paine vs Jonny Bairstow

Tim is not even the most famous T-Pain in the world. The ginger messiah crushes his opposite number under the sheer weight of never-ending runs.

Shaun Marsh vs Chris Woakes

Mismatch as they won’t occupy the same place in the order, but Chris Woakes is mustard and has only been dropped once by England. Shaun Marsh gets dropped three times a year.

Lyon vs Moeen Ali

Sometimes, cricket isn’t that important. Moeen’s beard 1 – Nathan Lyon’s beard – 0.

The beard that is feared. Image courtesy of Jumpy News on Flickr

Mitchell Starc – Craig Overton/Jake Ball

Begrudgingly, Mitchell Starc is quite good at cricket.

Pat Cummins – Stuart Broad

Pat Cummins is as likely to tear his hamstring while eating his cheerios as to take wickets, so as he sits out most of the series injured Stuart will be making Broad inroads into the Australian batting.

Josh Hazlewood – James Anderson

Jimmy is one of the greatest bowlers in the history of Test cricket. Josh Hazlewood is a village cricket pie-chucker. No comparison.


England to win the series 3-2 and retain the Ashes. No draws because nobody can bat.


The Weird and Wonderful World of Political Christmas Cards

By Peter Jackson Eastwood & Emily Burditt.

It’s the festive season, so what better way to celebrate than to forensically examine just how appalling Politicians Christmas Cards are? Welcome to the strange and wonderful world of political Christmas cards…

Nigel Evans MP – Christmas 2016

Nigel Evans MP Christmas card

Come along now Mr Evans, you’re not even Trump’s favourite Nigel!

Everyone knows that Farage and Trumpy are already best mates, so maybe we can find Nigel Evans his own American friend – Mike Pence or Mitt Romney maybe? They seem like interesting chaps, and Ted Cruz could always use a chum as well…

Bonus point for the mug.

MP Christmas card

Nigel Evans MP’s Christmas Card


Stephen Harper (Former PM Canada) – Christmas 2010

‘Season’s greetings from our whole serial killing family’ is probably not what the inside of this card says, but it should do.

Is there anything worse than one of these god-awful ‘happy family’ pictures? Everyone looks on edge. Pity the Harper children who were likely slaughtered in the playground for this one. Thankfully Canada is now blessed with the charismatic Justin Trudeau, a man so good at PR-ing himself that his wide-eyed tribute to the late, great, murderous Fidel Castro spawned an entire hashtag – #TrudeauEulogies

Fear not residents of Great Britain, the rest of the world’s politicians are equally inept.

Stephen Harper Christmas Card

Stephen Harper’s Christmas Card


Peter Bone MP – Christmas 2015

Given Peter Bone’s record in the House of Commons, I think we are all immensely grateful that his Christmas card does not feature Mrs Bone in some kind of compromised state. Small mercies.

Bone’s expression epitomises how the whole country is now feeling over all this EU hullabaloo. Are we leaving? Are we staying? Are we staying in the single market? Are we retaining Freedom of movement? Are the courts in charge? Is parliament? Are you sure Michael Gove isn’t a lizard-human hybrid?

Don’t worry Peter, we all feel exactly as you look.

Peter Bone Christmas Card

Jeremy Corbyn – Christmas 2016

This looks not dissimilar to the Dove logo, just with a red background instead of white. For that reason, let’s call this ‘Communist Dove’. And given the cracked, flaky nature of Corbyn’s reign, he probably needs some political moisturiser to make his party a slicker machine.

So many beautiful political symmetries can be drawn from this shockingly bad Christmas card and last year’s equally atrocious offering. Jeremy Corbyn has had an entire year to improve his Christmas card, but it has only gotten worse. Jeremy Corbyn has also had an entire year to improve his leadership of the Labour Party. Fill in the rest yourself.

Tony Blair, Christmas 2014

Things Tony Blair could be thinking in this photo:

‘The Chilcott report is coming out soon’

‘Ah, I left the oven on.’

‘I’d better empty my Outbox in case Cherie sees that George and I are still talking.’

‘I forgot to put X Factor on to record’

‘Good God Ed Balls can move!’

Tony Blair Christmas Card

Tony Blair’s Christmas Card

Alex Salmond MSP – Christmas 2013

Alex Salmond doesn’t really make sense to me as a human being, so it figures that I haven’t the faintest clue what this is all about.

Perhaps it’s a young Salmond in his job at the Post Office, championing independence William Wallace style in his free time.

Apparently it’s actually a picture of the fourth wise man who turned up too late to see Jesus.

About as festive and cheery as Mr Salmond’s popular demeanour.

Nick Brown MP – Christmas 2015

Nick Brown has cracked it – George Osborne is a Sith Lord. Not only do we at PHA Public Affairs fully endorse Star Wars references, we endorse them especially enthusiastically in relation to our esteemed politicians.

As for what that means in relation to this card – George Osborne is surely Kylo Ren – young, widely disliked, following a path that is a mystery to everyone but himself and probably capable of betraying those closest to him with a lightsabre/austerity cut to the heart. And come to think of it, Maggie would make a passable Emperor Palpatine here… (We love you Maggie!)

Godfrey Bloom (former UKIP MEP)

Most MEPs would be desperate to distance themselves from comments that were so controversial, he lost the UKIP whip.

But Godfrey Bloom isn’t most MEPs; he is a UKIPper. Honestly, I’ve no idea whether this did Godfrey Bloom a tonne of damage with his voters, or a tonne of favours. Who knows what anything means anymore.

godfrey bloom christmas card


Home Affairs Select Committee 2015

Masterful. Not a single word of criticism for this, a delight.

Home Affairs Select Committee 2013

The Home Affairs Select Committee clearly win the award for best cards.

Keith Vaz as Dumbledore. Theresa May as Bellatrix Lestrange. Julian Huppert as Harry Potter.

No more needs to be said.

Home Affairs Select Committee Christmas Card

Home Affairs Select Committee Christmas Card

Public Relations is for life, not just Christmas…

Christmas an important time for PR

‘Image courtesy of FutUndBeidl on Flickr’

So this is Christmas. It is finally here, although it does seem like it has been with us for weeks now.

We had that John Lewis advert, which sparked excited conversation in countless homes and offices across the UK.

John Lewis’ many rivals followed, and they all came along weeks before what we now call Black Friday, a Thanksgiving-related sale extravaganza imported from the US. This was hotly followed by Cyber Monday, an internet retail bonanza a full 23 days before December 25.

These key moments, the work of marketers and advertisers and helped along by the press, shoe-horned an early Christmas in homes across the land.

But being told we are now in festive mode by advertising gurus is nothing new: Coca-Cola has been doing that for years.

Christmas ads are designed to recall lost moments of the Festive Season last felt when we were children.

Today, they are not just adverts, but beautiful mini-movies which are also multi-channel ‘experiences’ to spark debate on Facebook, Twitter and across the web.

Million upon millions of pounds are pumped into them, and Newsnight recently broke down last year’s spend.

According to research, last year Tesco spent £8.4 million on its Yuletide ads. Sainsbury’s forked out £5.7 million, Morrisons £5.5 million and Waitrose ‘just’ £2.2 million.

Of these big names, the one which enjoyed the best Christmas uplift was Waitrose, with a 9.3 percent increase in sales.

Analysts and business journalists will be closely watching the performance, and it may not all be sweetness and light, despite hugely positive noises about the economy and recovery.

Stats from Markit suggest household finances have deteriorated sharply as pay rises have fallen below the cost of living, hinting that families are entering the festive period feeling anything but.

The index measures a perception of financial well-being and was at its lowest in November since April.

Clothing retailers have already been hit – last month’s unseasonal weather already dented sales in the new winter clothing lines.

The media will be all over footfall and revenue figures in the final run-in to Christmas, whipping themselves into a frenzy to write about Christmas Day online takings on Boxing Day, and more traditional Boxing Day sales the day after.

The budget end of the market – both supermarkets and clothing outlets – will again be interesting. Primark was labelled as the high street’s star performer last year. Anyone who has ducked in there to pick up one of the crazy Christmas jumpers which are all the rage again will testify how it manic it is in the stores. The Aldi and Lidl success stories should continue – reports suggest they are already experiencing very good sales this year.

But critical eyes will again be on the companies which have spent big bucks on big advertising campaigns.

And the real crunch will come in Januar when revenue figures start being unwrapped.

With the advertisers and creative long having moved onto their next project, enter the financial and corporate PRs and their teams.

They will be the ones working to deflect any the sharp lines in the business pages, and analysis from shows like Jeff Randall Tonight on Sky News, and the erudite and excellent David Buik, who is as brilliant on Twitter with his analysis as he is on TV. Work on PR strategy commenced even before the Bear and the Hare snuggled up on our screens.

Lines between advertising and PR are often blurred, but Christmas campaigns show perfectly the differences in responsibilities.

The PR challenge will be in telling their own company’s Christmas story, and with the hope the big-money adverts have drawn in the customers, making their start to 2014 a smoother one than last year.





Spread the Christmas Cheer using Social Media!

Christmas is just around the corner and many brands are already jumping on the festive bandwagon; from M&S to John Lewis to Debenhams – the nations favourite department stores are all gracing our TV screens and our social channels with their festive cheer.

However, there are many brands that will just be relying on social media alone to promote their business. But fear not, you can still leverage the power of social media using a few Christmassy marketing tactics that we have outlined below:

Gifts Under the ‘Tree’

Create a virtual Christmas tree on your Facebook page and ask your fans to pick a gift – this could be once a week on the lead up to Christmas – perhaps a ‘Happy Friday’ post? This is a great opportunity to create some real shareable content that will get your brand name in front of potential customers.

Advent Calendars

We all love to get chocolate from their advent calendar every day – just because we’re adults doesn’t mean we grow out of it! However, we need to provide an incentive for people to hit ‘like’ and ‘share’, so similar to the ‘Gift Under the Tree’ users would get a new promotion every day of the Christmas season. This can be done on all social channels, but it would work particularly well on image led channels such as Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest using Twitter to direct traffic.

Christmas Card Updates

Create fun, shareable content to spread the Christmas cheer to others by prompting people to ‘like’ and ‘share’ –  after all, “the best way to spread Christmas cheer is singing loud for all to hear!”


Xmas Christmas social media

Courtesy of



Christmas – a time for fun, family and…!


Christmas is traditionally a time spent at home, with loved ones and family; a couple of days off work to sit back, relax and savour the festive spirit. But for footballers up and down the country the Christmas and New Year period is a whole lot more than this. It is a crucial time.

With nearly half of the season already gone in the top flight, the two Manchester clubs seemingly battling each other for the title, Chelsea with another new manager and “arry’s” QPR still looking for their first premier league win, every team is readying itself for the busy and potentially decisive festive period, which can often make or break a season. It doesn’t matter whether your team is chasing success in all competitions or you’re locked in a basement battle scrapping for every point to secure top-flight survival; every club wants the welcome gift of three valuable points this Christmas.

Most Premier League clubs will take part in four matches in a little over a week this Christmas.  However, cup commitments and European fixtures can lead to an even greater pile-up of matches…..not to mention the 3rd round of the FA Cup on the opening weekend of January.

Fixtures come thick and fast during the festive period and wintry conditions are hugely demanding for footballers, testing their fitness levels to the limit. With so many matches in such a short space of time, it is not uncommon for injuries to mount up and players’ form to suffer as they attempt to struggle through games without sufficient periods of rest.

Of course, tiredness and bad luck strikes every team at some point during a season but at Christmas time it can have far more damaging consequences. That said, the hectic festive fixture list is, of course, something of a top-flight tradition in England and given the quick turnaround of matches the reality of being swept aside by one of the top teams quickly disappears. The old cliché in football “there’s always the next game” springs to mind, offering comfort to the frontrunners in the New Year sack race.

Talk continues over the introduction of a two-week winter break in English football – once a distant whisper now a muted roar – but Premier League chief executive Richard Scudamore has hinted that FA Cup replays may have to be sacrificed to make it work. English football’s governing bodies used to palm off the idea of a mid-season break but it now seems a very possible reality.

The fundamental question is this – would you sacrifice your Christmas fix of football in favour of a mid-season break?

For the football scrooges out there the answer is fairly obvious but for anyone that plays football or loves watching the game, nothing beats the drama and excitement of the festive fixture list. Attendances are high. There’s a game on Monday; there’s another one on Thursday. It has been cherished by so many of us over the years and has an important place in our national football heritage. For now at least it’s here to stay.

Dear Santa, I’ve been a very good girl.

The presence of technology in our everyday lives is more prominent than ever before. The sale of newspapers are declining rapidly due to the rise of tablets and smartphones, and face-to-face conversation has been replaced with online interaction; this week it has been reported that 53% of Britons will connect with up to 10 people whilst dining with a loved one.

Inevitably this trend has begun to affect the younger generation and topping the Christmas list of many children this year will be the new and improved Furby. In 1998, when Furbys were first released, they were revolutionary. Their infrared eyes meant they could communicate with their owner, one of the first really interactive toys of the generation which would spark a trend.


Image Courtesy of yoshifumi yamaguchi,

Image Courtesy of yoshifumi yamaguchi,

This year the Furby is back, with more motors and sensors than before, making the Furby more interactive than ever. Using research that shows a quarter of nine and 10 year olds use social networks, the new Furby will also include a smartphone and tablet app, with the toy evolving its personality based on how each child plays with it.

However, the Furby is not the first toy to come with app-based components, with children become more technologically savvy, apps are possibly one of the most popular forms of toy, you only have to look at the most popular downloads on iTunes to verify this. Although you might think that these apps will make the more traditional toys obsolete, in fact, it presents an exciting opportunity to reinvent a classic and make it relevant to the modern world. For example, companies that make puzzles are creating 3D toys meaning that when the last piece is in place, the picture comes to life.

Of course, the rise of app-based toys means the demand for children to own their own tablets or smartphone, which of course no doubly will be joined with choirs of web safety for its users. But instead of trying to prevent children from developing their technology skills, which let’s face will be a constant uphill struggle, companies are starting to develop tablets specifically for children, and they have been hugely successful.

With technology becoming more integral to all components of our lives, of course, this effect will impact on children. Instead of mourning the loss of the ball and string, we should embrace the change, I for one am looking forward to how toy companies will develop their more traditional products into something that is relevant to today.