Since high street giant John Lewis joined up with creative partners Adam & Eve in 2009, they’ve been creating Christmas magic that captures the imagination of their customers year-after-year. However, 2021 marks a turning point in their creative dominance.
With UK companies estimated to have spent £7.9bn on their Christmas advertising this year, new players are starting to harness the positive impact of brand creativity on customer loyalty. So, what are the reasons behind this shift in creative dominance at Christmas and which brands are coming out on top?
What happened to the John Lewis phenomenon?
If you’ve ever waited with bated breath for the release of the John Lewis Christmas advert, then you’ll understand the impact that this phenomenon has on customers. Capturing the feeling of Christmas, the connections with family and the excitement of our inner child has been at the root of the department store brand’s most effective adverts.
Yet since their most successful, heart-wrenching adverts, such as The Bear and the Hare, the Man on the Moon and The Long Wait, customer excitement for the John Lewis festive releases has dwindled. Part of this is because more brands have brought their own versions of Christmas creativity to the market.
From Aldi’s satirical response to Man on the Moon, to Not on the High Street discovering the Magic of Small Things, more brands than ever are discovering that investing in creativity that’s memorable to customers, really pays off. This, in turn, has moved customers’ loyalties away from John Lewis to brands that they feel more connected with.
Supermarkets pushing Christmas creativity!
This year, supermarkets have emerged as the major creative Christmas advertising players. These adverts aren’t just warming our hearts with festive delight, but are pushing the envelope of marketing and art direction too.
After a year of putting our festive plans on pause, Sainsbury’s ‘A Christmas to Savour’ captures the funniest and most memorable moments of those special get-togethers, while putting their products front and centre of the action.
Following in a similar vein to last year’s Gravy Song, the quirky, cinematic style captures the festive fun of family homes and connects with their target demographics – customers of all ages and genders!
The creative solution is a real statement of intent from the supermarket giant, with the advert showcasing a cutting-edge cinematic experience formed from a highly considered visual storyline.
Aldi’s partnership with McCann Manchester led to the birth of ‘Kevin the Carrot’ back in 2016. This year, Kevin has continued his story and is now the star of his own mini Christmas feature. As well as capturing the hearts and memories of young audiences, Kevin has also set a new trend for mascots in modern brand marketing.
The true brilliance behind Aldis’ creation of Kevin the carrot, is the marketing campaigns length. As a customer, we were introduced to Kevin in 2016, since then we have watched his story play out – creating a sense of empathy with the character.
Now, with Christmas upon us, Aldi is telling the age old story of A Christmas Carol – a story that is inherently embedded in the Christmas traditions of a wide generational audience. They have even included a cameo of Cuthbert the Caterpillar Cake into the Christmas short, further enhancing the familiarity of the brands marketing.
Marks and Spencer
After returning to its iconic brand roots of ‘This is not food, it’s M&S Christmas food’ the high end supermarket has embraced everything seasonal spectacular in their 2021 advert ‘Make the Season anything but Ordinary’. Putting a stylish young woman at the centre of the mini magical adventure, the advert presents an inspirational feeling to the festive story – a direct reflection to how the customer aspires to purchase the fine products of the brand.
The elaborate visualisation of high end glamour has a production quality that is teetering on the edge of theatre level quality. The indulgent scene execution denotes expense and quality, acting as a visual personification of the brands values and the standard of the product ranges it provides.
Similarly to Aldi, the brand has brought its food stores (and own brand mascot Percy Pig) to life in a bid for a share of the young family market.
Christmas creative that connects.
Particularly after the previous two years, the shift of Christmas brand advertising feeds on what the nation needs – positivity. By embracing creativity in all its magical, spectacular and sparkling forms, the supermarket brands aren’t just trying to target set demographics – but tapping into customers’ loyalties too.
Who wouldn’t want to shop in the store that has an adorable carrot mascot? (if you know your purchase will be feeding his carrot children). Or, the supermarket whose Christmas song has been stuck in your head all week? (and when you hear it, you subconsciously choose to shop in that store).
Creativity connects brands to the customer, on a deeper level. By pushing the envelope and growing market presence, by increasing creative dominance, the supermarket brands are driving (and leading) real returns from their Christmas advertising efforts – along the way creating new, and revitalising marketing strategies (like the return of the mascot).
… over to you John Lewis, in 2022.