Christmas Adverts 2018 Roundup Part 1

Recently The Drum reported that marketers will spend £6.4 billion on Christmas adverts in 2018 and this year the Christmas advert hype started earlier than ever.

As we love great adverts almost as much as we love Christmas, we’re rounding up all the major Christmas adverts in 2018.

Argos’ Christmas Fool

If you’re a parent, Christmas is more of a time for planning and present wrapping than pleasure. But even the best-laid plans can go wrong, as the new Argos ad makes clear.

The ad stars a new character called the ‘Christmas Fool’, a kind of gremlin that sabotages a family’s Christmas. This ranges from hiding tape and building instructions to ruining wrapping and the Christmas tree. Luckily, an Argos deliveryman is on hand to save the day; it seems Christmas Fools are a major problem this year.

Argos emphasises how easy it is to shop with them in two key ways. The first is their presence in Sainsbury’s branches—very useful if you’re out shopping for other Christmas essentials. The second is their same-day delivery service, which should help with any last-minute Christmas disasters.

Although the metaphor might not line up perfectly—we don’t know how Argos will help with our missing Scrabble pieces—it’s still a fun concept that elegantly shows what they can do. Consider what problems your product or service can solve this festive season. 

Asda Brings Christmas Home

How do you kick Christmas off? Some stick the Mariah Carey album on. Others crack open the chocolates and mince pies. Asda have Santa firing a Christmas pudding from a cannon. Takes all sorts, we suppose.

Asda’s advert sells the idea and feelings of Christmas rather than specific products or services. We have a cavalcade of skiers and trucks bring Christmas apparel to a family—trees, turkey, canapés, crackers, and much more. We’re not sure since when Wookiees became a typical Christmas visitor, but it’s still a lot of fun to watch.

Asda’s strategy is ideal for tapping into the festive cheer.

eBay Does Everything

If you’re a certain kind of shopper, eBay is a go-to for pretty much anything, really. The online auction site have taken that sentiment and expressed it in a new, punchy advert that shows they’re on the cutting edge.

The advert shows how it’s a one-stop shop for any popular item, whether it’s a drivable ATV, a faux-fur coat or even vintage comic books. This mix of products is no accident; for a lot of people, eBay will be a place to buy (or sell) second-hand items. Focusing on the latest clothes and gizmos (without ignoring exciting second-hand finds) helps to position eBay as a more relevant website in this context.

Brevity is the key to most successful advertising, and eBay nails that idea in this advert. Over just 30 seconds it conjures up a website that’s easy to use and packed with desirable presents. 

Amazon’s Singing Boxes Return

Last year, Amazon marketed themselves with a memorable singing boxes advert. Now the boxes are making a comeback tour, and they’ve got some friends to accompany them.

Amazon’s latest advert shows off all the different ways they try and make our lives easier. The package delivery is the highlight (Michael Jackson is the artist of choice this time) but the advert also features the Alexa virtual assistant and the Amazon Locker self-service kiosks. These will undoubtedly come in handy during the Christmas period.

What’s perhaps most telling is that Amazon’s name never appears in the advert itself—only the trademark smile. It’s a risky move, but one Amazon can certainly get away with when we consider their place in the retail market and how iconic the “A-Z” smile brand is.

Christmas is an especially stressful time for people, so anything that makes their lives easier will be sure to turn some heads.

Coca Cola’s Christmas Traditions

Coca Cola has long been associated with the Christmas period (even if they didn’t actually create the version of Santa Claus we know today). Their Christmas truck adverts have been a runaway success (and re-used by others this year too), but this year they’re taking a slightly different approach.

The advert this year plays to nostalgia (with the classic trucks and stirring music) but shifts the focus to their Coke Zero product instead. They’ve also got multipacks to make buying Coke all the easier.

The advert reflects our wider distaste for sugary drinks, and other measures like the sugar tax which make them less profitable for companies. Still, it’s a relatively small change to the ad format, which is very well established at this point.

Kevin the Carrot Returns

For its Christmas adverts, Aldi has kept its tongue firmly in its cheek. It’s ripped off the likes of John Lewis in the past, and now its Christmas mascot Kevin the Carrot is back to entertain us and to poke some good-humored fun at the Coca-Cola Christmas trucks. However, he’s not alone. This year, there’s a new foe for Kevin to confront.

Aldi’s Christmas adverts have some continuity going on (see Katie the Carrot from last year’s advert) which rewards people who follow them regularly. The format of the advert is very similar to previous ones—Kevin saves a fellow carrot in peril—but it’s primarily a neat way to show off all the foods Aldi has to offer. The very different part of this particular Christmas campaign was that it was a 2-parter with the Coca-Cola style truck advert serving as a taster and literal cliffhanger (as the truck was hanging off a cliff in the ad). Since Kevin was a returning Christmas character this has worked well in Aldi’s favour.

However, this isn’t the only advert Aldi produced this year. Our favourite Aldi advert may be the one that’s not actually aimed at us; Aldi Australia created a new ad that shows us life in the Australian outback.

Aldi’s humorous tone and pastiches makes for an ad campaign that’s very appealing. It benefits from a very wide appeal and instant brand recognition. It could also be seen as a reference to the low-cost alternatives Aldi offers in their stores.

This multi-pronged approach can be tricky to pull off—more adverts means more money spent, after all—but it can also be a nice way to highlight key offers and information. Carefully consider what you actually want to say with your advert; make sure you’re emphasising things people actually want to know about. And don’t be afraid to pair this with a bit of humour; in most cases, it’s an essential component of Christmas marketing.

Tesco’s ‘Anything Goes’ Advert

If nothing else, Christmas is driven by tradition. Turkey, crackers, Brussels sprouts… you get the picture. Of course there’s plenty of wiggle room as well, and it’s the wiggle room Tesco are focussing on in their advert.

In just one minute, the advert acts as a snapshot for all the different families that make up modern Britain. As you might expect there’s plenty of different perspectives on offer. But of course Tesco welcomes (and is prepared for) all of them. The instrumental of “Go Your Own Way” accompanies it to emphasise this sentiment. The advert also makes sure to (subtly) highlight its delivery service at the end.

Having a diverse range of people in your ads (where possible) shows your understanding of today’s multicultural society. We can see hints of this idea in the other ads in this article. We can also see it in older adverts, such as BBC One’s advert from last year. (Take a look at our previous Christmas advert round-up to see the similarity).

Don’t be afraid to cast a wide net with your target audience; when it comes to holidays, Christmas is about as universally friendly as you can get.

Do a Bit of Debenhams

Today, many Christmas adverts are high-budget exercises in compact, feel-good storytelling. Debenhams is certainly telling stories with its adverts, but it’s taking a much more low-key approach than other retailers.

This year, the department store is shifting its focus to emotions and experiences rather than specific products. They’ve released four short adverts, which show people nailing their gift choices, with the gifts themselves pushed into the background. According to Marketing Week, the ad campaign will be accompanied by a ‘range of experimental activity’—like gin bars and ice cream pop-ups—in certain Debenhams branches.

Debenhams’ approach reflects the experience of many high street stores at the moment. Many are struggling to stay relevant in a rapidly changing retail landscape, and Debenhams itself is closing up to 50 of its stores. It’s also being presented as an antidote to what Debenhams sees as ‘vanity project’ TV ads, which could be seen as tasteless in the current economic climate.

Many businesses are struggling to operate in the way they did in the past, and a shift in marketing strategy towards a more integrated approach has many fruits to bear (figurative fruits that is, not the ones soaked in alcohol for Christmas) . An advert doesn’t need to be flashy or complex to be effective; a strong, compelling marketing message beats a million pounds of CGI any day of the week.

The Heathrow Bears Return

One of the best marketing techniques—especially at Christmas— is to focus your adverts around a specific character. Aldi seem to have found great success with Kevin the Carrot, and Heathrow Airport have brought back their adorable teddy bears.

While last year’s advert focused on a decades-long relationship (and Heathrow’s history), this year’s advert focuses on modern concerns, like being far away from your family during the festive season. Thanks to Heathrow the bears are able to get back in time for Christmas, and even pick up some last-minute presents at the airport.

Heathrow’s marketing is quite subtle; rather than focuses on lots of specific strengths, it presents itself as a mechanism for family connection. You may want to consider a similar approach in your own Christmas marketing; don’t worry about flogging a particular item or bargain. Simply suggesting you make Christmas run smoothly might be enough.

There’s plenty to learn about messaging from Christmas adverts in 2018.

We’ll have more Christmas ads to share with you very soon!

(See part 2 here)

So stay tuned.

In the meantime, if you’d like some help with your marketing efforts—at Christmas or any other time—get in touch with us today on 0113 287 9900 (or fill out our contact from below).

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