Christmas advertising is here – how have brands performed?

As Christmas nears, our TV screens are once again filled with festive-themed ads as brands clamour to draw in the all-important Christmas shoppers. From the sentimental to the downright brash, they are certainly a mixed bag this year. So who has left us feeling thoroughly festive and ready for a Christmas splurge?

Well we certainly can’t look past the success of John Lewis’ latest effort. ‘The Long Wait’, created by agency Adam & Eve, has really caught the imagination of consumers. The ad has been an instant hit, achieving the holy grail of good advertising: it’s got people talking. What’s the secret of its success? It creates suspense and tells a story viewers can relate to – one which, in short, realises every parent’s dream. This emotional resonance, captured in the tagline ‘for gifts you can’t wait to give’, goes a long way when nestled amongst a lot of other predictable, outdated and ever-so-slightly corny fare jostling for our screen space.

Promoting flamboyant spending is ill-advised in the current economic climate and Tesco has somewhat thoughtfully chosen to lead its advertising with the strap line ‘Keeping Christmas Special’, whilst focusing on low price festive goods. Angela Porter, Tesco’s senior marketing manager, explains: “Just because times are tough doesn’t mean that Christmas has to be less special.  Tesco understands this and wants to help keep Christmas special for the whole of Britain, no matter who you are or how you choose to celebrate.”

This festive season has also seen the swansong of Jamie Oliver’s time as Sainsbury’s brand ambassador. Sainsbury’s Christmas panto advert, starring the TV chef, debuted last week and, like John Lewis, aimed for the feel good factor – but falls a little short with a certain air of the predictable.

Coca-Cola’s latest ‘Holidays are coming’ revival and Marks & Spencer’s X Factor themed ad have both grabbed the headlines, but neither have been able to get close to the 200,000 online shares and over one million YouTube views achieved by the John Lewis ad. Annual tradition or not, we’ve all seen the Coca-Cola ad a hundred times before, and this year’s X Factor (staged infighting and rogue contestants aside) has so far failed to spark the public’s imagination.

Although the Christmas season poses a fantastic opportunity for brands, it’s easy for them to get lost in the tidal wave of themed ads.  John Lewis is currently emerging victorious in the battle of Christmas advertising, but the true brand winner will only be revealed once Christmas has passed and sales performance is reviewed. But for now we can sit back and enjoy the show…                                                                         

Ian Savage

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Ordering food on the phone takes a whole new meaning with ‘Grocery 2.0’

By Hannah O’Mahony, who is currently doing work experience at Limelight PR  

Online extension of Waitrose supermarket Ocado.com, which launched in January 2002 and serves more than 13.5 million households across the UK, has become the first grocer in the UK to let you fill your trolley from an iPhone app. The catalogue of 18,000 products can be browsed and shopping lists created both on and offline. 

The app, called ‘Ocado on the Go,’ has been developed for existing account customers on the main Ocado website and automatically synchronizes the user’s data between the two platforms, allowing customers to alternate between the two – so there will be no more queuing for ready meals in the post-commute rush.

 Ocodo iphone application

And it’s not just the supermarkets doing this; both Amazon and Ebay have already developed apps for their customers on the go. Wonderful as this may seem, concerns have been raised by some parties including the payment card industry who have suggested data security standards for these new shopping apps may be a problem. Also for retail brands wanting to make the most of technology, Apple Applications are not the only mobile platform that they can  utilize to reach their customers, but it’s certainly a popular place to start.  Tesco are quickly jumping on the technology bandwagon too by opening up their databases to third-party programmers.

Clearly there are implications if all the big retailers start to follow suit. Would it change the competition dynamic e.g. would consumers really have more than one supermarket app on their iPhone? Potentially this might mean customers staying loyal to their favoured supermarket. Arguably there is also the opportunity for supermarkets to win that favour through intuitive, well designed and ultimately easy to use technology development. As Leon Mccomish highlights in his digital marketing blog post the Ocado development team seem to have managed to create an application that’s similar to the original website, which their customers are used to operating and easy to operate.   

So it seems like retailers looking for a new way to engage, with convenience and mobility for their customers, certainly have some ideas regarding mobile platforms…but whether they will deliver the results and return they are looking for, remains to be seen.