A few month back, I wrote a blog asking will traditional marketing come back in fashion? Well, I think it’s happening sooner than I thought. And I reckon it’s because of Christmas.
Every year, the build up begins earlier and earlier (before long, we’ll be doing our Christmas shopping wearing flip flops in June) and more and more attention and pressure is placed on retailers to sell more than last year. So more effort has been put into advertising and, to their credit, retailers have managed to turn Christmas advertising into an event in its own right, reminiscent of the Super Bowl.
The Super Bowl’s advertising fixation
In America, around the time of the Super Bowl, all the talk is about advertising. Who’s going to take the plunge? Who’s creating the most engaging content? And how much is going to be spent?
Every year, another brand makes it onto our radar by pulling out all the stops or doing something different. This year, Oreo stole the show from the TV advertising crew with its real time marketing efforts, but still brands were shelling out up to $4million for a 30 second slot during the show’s ad breaks. The advertising gets more hype than the event itself. In fact, the advertising is an event in itself.
Christmas advertising is heading the same way
The amount of media coverage that Christmas adverts generate these days, even before they’re broadcast, increases every year. And now, with social media taking a hold of the ads as soon as they’re released, we’re becoming fixated with them.
We already keep our eyes as peeled as a ripe scab on the look out for the new John Lewis ad. We wait in a bundle of anticipation for the first airing of the Coca Cola Christmas-confirming classic. And we sit as patient as Gareth Gates’ speech therapist to see who’ll be prancing around in their bra and knickers for Marks & Spencer. Every year there’s more hype.
This year, Sainsbury’s are enduring a bit of viral success with its Christmas in a Day ad, which features chopped up home video footage, adding a further competitor to the growing number of retailers fighting it out on the Christmas advertising battlefield (I’m so thankful my mum didn’t send in the footage of me kissing my Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles toys before throwing my head back, glancing upward like the big guy was painted on our ceiling and screaming at the top of my little lungs: “Thank you Santa!”… It was only taken last year. I’d never live it down). And Tesco and the rest of them won’t be far behind.
Why is traditional advertising becoming so popular at Christmas?
Because they’re not the typical “Look what we sell. Now buy our stuff!” type of ads that we see on telly all year round. They’re more of the “Here’s something funny, interesting, engaging or emotional to entertain you and remind you of how fantastic Christmas is… Oh, and we’re here when you’re ready” type of content that we’re used to experiencing online.
Everyone’s already buzzing at this time of year and retailers know fine well you’re going to spend regardless, so they don’t have to try as hard to get you to part with your coin in the first place. They just have to try harder to tap into that excitement and get you to spend the money that you both know you’re going to spend anyway, with them. This gives them the opportunity to step away from the status quo, the hard sell and the price wars and instead venture down the road of engaging, fan building content.
So the ads are crafted for digital first. It’s content created for micro-engagement that just happens to feature in the 30sec slots in between shows. For those that do it well, the TV ad plays a supporting role as part of an integrated marketing strategy.
Just look at this year’s John Lewis Bear and Hare ‘advert’
It’s not just an advert. They have an app, cuddly toys, Lilly Allen singing a tune, a YouTube channel, a Facebook page, a Twitter account (including an account for both the Bear and the Hare), shop window displays, in store photo opportunities, an online Christmas card maker and probably well more than I can be arsed researching to illustrate this point, but it’s all Bear and Hare branded. Oh… And they’ve created the advert as well.
With the advert as part of this mix, they’re picked up and seen all over, not just on telly. And because of this, when they are on telly, the become little mini features or episodes in their own right. You might have the app or have seen the video online or seen it has a few likes on Facebook or just heard people talking about it, and when it comes on the telly, you watch it, just to watch it. You enjoy it because it’s entertaining and because it’s not a sales pitch.
Christmas is an event that more or less everyone in the UK celebrates and everyone spends a shit load of coin during this time, so it’s obvious competition between retailers is intense, especially high street Vs online. It just seems that this year the competition isn’t on numbers and who can make the most sales. Everyone’s going to make shit loads of sales regardless because people are going to spend regardless. This year, the competition is between the marketing departments for who can create the best adverts and earn the most shares and views and coverage.
The ghost of adverts past
Everyone’s stepped up their game this year and by fusing digital content marketing principles with traditional TV advertising to create something worth sharing, worth talking about and worth seeing, are retailers setting new expectations when it comes to traditional advertising? Are we coming to an end of the hard sell and entering and age of integrated entertainment? Can these retailers keep it up throughout the year and bring us back to the dizzy heights of the advertising hay day?
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