The Conversation

Now that everyone is talking about Christmas Ads....

With advertisers set to spend a record £9.5bn during the Christmas season, we take a look at the festive line-up

By Creative Salon

Finally, it's that time of year when everyone's talking about ads.

We'll leave - for now - why we can't seem to generate so much interest and excitement the rest of the year about what we do. Let's revel for a while in the joy of seeing commercial creativity generate the sort of anticipation and excitement among the public and the media that assures advertising’s place in the vanguard of popular culture (and that TV is still where this commercial face-off mainly takes place).

Advertisers are set to spend a record £9.5bn during the Christmas season, according to new data released by the Advertising Association (AA) and WARC - a 4.8 per cent increase from last year’s record spend of £9bn and demonstrates the continued importance of advertising to the economy during the festive period. 

There’s something for everyone, no matter your schmaltz-tolerance level: a chorus-line of celebrities (and who knew Michael Bublé could manage a comedic turn for Asda?); Morrisons’ singing oven gloves; Very’s new festive flamingos; and the eighth consecutive Christmas outing for Aldi’s Kevin the Carrot who’s off to a dangerously pun-laden inspired Willy Wonka world.

But amidst all the glitter and tinsel and groaning tables of Christmas fayre, you do have to feel for Marks & Spencer, whose latest ad was rounded upon by both opponents to the war in Gaza and Christmas traditionalists. Mother’s debut campaign for M&S (not set out to court any controversy) simply suggests that people should do away with Christmas traditions they no longer love, but - as happens too often now - became mired in controversy. The threat these social media shit-storms hold for creative originality is palpable and protecting and encouraging bold creative thinking is harder but has never been more vital.

For John Lewis, this Christmas is a crucial one. Having severed its hugely successful 14-year partnership with adam&eveDDB, all industry eyes are on what Saatchi & Saatchi have come up with as an alternative to a series of ads that probably have defined Christmas advertising for most of the nation. The task at hand might have seemed overwhelming in less adept hands, but Saatchi & Saatchi has opted for a vision of a modern family Christmas (with Venus flytrap as the star of the show). And as Rosie Hanley, John Lewis & Partners' marketing director puts it: “What’s really pushed us on this year is connecting consideration through to the conversion. So more than ever, this campaign isn't just a nice brand asset."

Agencies know that being a slave to history means learning nothing from it. If there’s one consolation from the brutal reality of the retail sector, it’s that Christmas advertising remains the most competitive and dynamic creative opportunity and showcases agencies at their very best. And it showcases the power of brilliant creativity to drive growth: the AA research for this year’s Christmas advertising season has also revealed that nearly half (48 per cent) of all adults credit Christmas ads with helping to spark gift ideas, while 70 per cent of young adults (25-34) find Christmas ads to be the ultimate festive mood booster. 

Now let's just work on delivering more of this across the rest of the year.


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