Christmas season is in full swing and so are the festive-themed campaigns that come along with it. Described as the UK’s advertising equivalent of the US Super Bowl, the Christmas advert influx sees brands battle it out to create the biggest and best campaign of the year.

2018 has seen an array of comedic, stand-out and even political campaigns so far, each with a different take on the ‘classic’ Christmas advert.

John Lewis launched their ‘Elton John Lewis’ offering in early November, and Aldi’s Kevin the Carrot has returned for the third year in a row.

Yet beside the big names and big budgets, a few viral videos have made waves amongst this year’s campaigns, and with massive effect.

Campaign Narrative

Love is a Gift, a short film that depicts a man patiently waiting for Christmas to arrive so that he can open a special gift from a loved one, was originally made by filmmaker Phil Beastall in 2014.

The budget festive film racked up more than five million views on Facebook after Beastall posted it in response to John Lewis’ £7m production starring Elton John.

In the film, the man can be seen preparing for the festive period by decorating his Christmas tree and ticking off the days on his calendar in the lead up to December 25.

When Christmas finally arrives, the man opens a cassette box at his kitchen table and takes one of the tapes inside, which he then listens to using a Sony Walkman.

In a heart-breaking moment, viewers then learn that the tape was left to him by his late mother, who recorded several tapes for him to listen to every year on Christmas following her death.

The viral vid shows that big budgets aren’t always needed (we’re looking at you, John Lewis). What’s important is an impactful narrative that gets the message across, resonating with audiences.

It’s vital to remember that if you want people to notice you, you need to be a little different. Don’t just do what everyone else is doing for the sake of keeping up appearances. Be mindful of your message and your audience – produce something they will enjoy and relate to.

“Campaigns like this showcase that you don’t need to spend millions to capture an audience.” Says our Head of Digital, Mitch Brown.

“It’s imperative to understand your audience. What channel do they spend their time on? What message will resonate with them? In this case, it wasn’t an advertisement but it still used the same principles to make it such a success.

“This video resonated with the audience by using three primary factors; emotion, relevance, and style. It used emotion to connect at a deeper level using relatable and emotional subjects. Relevance – Beastall thought about how the audience would perceive this idea, rather than focusing solely on the message of his brand. And finally, stylistically, the video delivers the message effectively by utilising relatable circumstances that audiences can recall later on.”

Another great advert example comes from the takeaway chain, KFC. Its Christmas campaign hits back at the centrepiece of festive meals: turkey.

The comedic ad reminds people that, although turkey may take the spotlight on Christmas Day, chicken still rules the roost for the rest of the year.

In a 60-second film soundtracked by The Ecstasy of Gold from ‘The Good, the Bad and the Ugly’, a chicken sets out on a wintry journey, where it meets its ultimate nemesis, a turkey. The two birds battle it out, but the chicken reigns supreme in the end. The ad ends with the tagline “Turkey comes and goes, but chicken’s here to stay.”

The first trick of advertising is to make people pay attention. Funny ads attract attention. Humour tugs at our emotions, eliciting a positive emotion like laughter, which creates an impression. It also connects consumers to the advert itself, and hopefully to the product being marketed.

“Often companies get bogged down in what they do and how they do it they forget to keep it simple, and more importantly keep it targeted.” Says our Marketing Director, Katrina Starkie.

“These ads are great examples of a narrative done well. They’ve kept the message simple and created a way to elicit an emotional response in their target customers so it’s memorable. When people are exposed to advertising they’re usually not ready to buy, so being memorable is the advertisers best chance of being the first in mind when a purchasing decision needs to be made.”

“Campaigns can’t be all things to all people, and when advertisers try to appeal to the masses messages end up lost and confused, or focus on features or benefits. The main takeaway is targetted simplicity – which is actually pretty challenging and complex to achieve, but once you do you’re onto a winner!”

When Narrative Goes Wrong

Although having a strong message is pivotal in any campaign, sometimes it can have a negative effect on brands.

This year, frozen food outlet Iceland hit headlines with their latest advert, ‘Rang-tan’.

The highly-emotive animation stars Rang-tan, an adorable baby primate found playing in the bedroom of a young girl. The orangutan is hiding in suburbia because his own habit is being destroyed and his mother killed for palm oil.

To add to the drama, the ad has been banned from TV screens by regulators Clearcast, for being too political, leading to an immense response from audiences calling for the ban to be lifted.

While the campaign has worked massively in Iceland’s favour (the ad has over 3.1 million views on YouTube), its strong message about an important, animal-friendly cause is slightly contradictory, especially considering how Iceland was caught up the horse meat scandal of 2013.

Iceland is typically famed for its cheeky, often comical brand messaging – we all remember Kerry Katona’s ads, don’t we? So, this environmental theme is somewhat of an oddity alongside the rest of the budget brands communications.

A good brand is a brand that’s consistent. Consistency gives the impression that you know exactly what you are about, yet with Iceland’s Christmas advert offering, we’re left confused. We think we know what to expect from them, now we need some convincing.

Getting Your Narrative Right

To get your next campaign right you need to have a compelling message that’ll attract your audience and not confuse it.

Whether you’d like to try your hand at your very own Christmas advert or need assistance curating a brand story that inspires, PM can help.

Our expert team of videographers can help create a piece of stunning video that’ll capture your audience and win you sales. Whilst our content writers will craft a campaign narrative worthy of your business, and our marketing boffins can help you get it in front of the right people.

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Posted by Rachel Gascoigne