We understand the importance of marketing strategies and the impact an engaging and visual campaign can have on businesses, organisations and charities. The right campaign can increase awareness of a brand, reinforce public trust in a product, boost sales and, in a few cases, create a subconscious link to a particular brand or product – who could forget the Heinz Tomato Ketchup advert that featured an invisible bottle of the red stuff?

With the season of goodwill upon us, we thought that we would explore the effectiveness of Christmas advertising, past and present. We’ve also included a few bonus facts about the ads – think of them as early stocking fillers for your mind!

Natash Clarke, Communications Lead:

John Lewis, 2011 – The Long Wait
“This is the stand out example of a great Christmas advert for me, with the young boy waiting for the big day so he can finally give his parents a present he’s wrapped and hidden from view. I feel like it was the first of its kind for the, now canon, of John Lewis adverts, featuring a stripped back version of a song, with an intriguing storyline designed to tap into the emotion of the viewer. It is also very funny, which is an added bonus.”

Bonus fact: The advert cost £6million to make – but helped bring in almost £600million in pre-Christmas sales.

Natasha Clarke, Communications Officer:

Yellow Pages, 1992 onwards – The Kiss
“It’s just one of the classics! When I see it, it always reminds me of being a little girl. The slightly soft glow of 90s television, the clothes that the children are wearing, the decorations – it’s just so nostalgic. I don’t think I would want them to remake it now though, the original version is almost a tradition in itself.”

Bonus fact: The soundtrack for this advert starts off playing “We Wish You A Merry Christmas” in a minor key, creating a downcast feeling. When the two characters kiss the soundtrack changes immediately to a major key, creating an instant feeling of happiness.

Jim Carr, Communications Assistant:

Coca-Cola, 1995 onwards – Holidays Are Coming
“There are two things that need to happen before I consider Christmas to be under way. The first is hearing “Fairytale Of New York” on the radio, the second is seeing the latest version of this advert. I really like the anticipation in the lyrics “Holidays are coming…”, just a simple little jingle that shifts my brain into Christmas mode! That winking Father Christmas is a bit of a flirt too…”

Bonus fact: Contrary to popular belief Coca-Cola is not responsible for Father Christmas wearing red. The character had been mentioned and depicted as wearing red long before the company created their first campaign in the 1930’s. However, it is responsible for the red faced, rotund, grandfather figure that we all know and love. 

Sarah Nagra, Client Lead:

Toys-R-Us, 1989 onwards
“This is my overriding memory of being a child at Christmas – where better to go and buy toys?! It makes me remember the excitement of going with my brother, and I’m sure every person of my age can remember the lyrics to the song!”

Bonus fact: Prior to this, the Toys-R-Us advert featured a reworking of The Snowman, where the titular character was replaced with a teddy bear that flew with the boy to Toys-R-Us.

Merv Royce, Financial Controller:

John Lewis, 2014 – Monty The Penguin
“My favourite advert is the current John Lewis ad with the small boy and his penguin friend. The whole advert is based on a small boy and his penguin friend and draws a lovely picture of how real children’s imagination can be. And that is what Christmas is all about.”

Bonus fact: TV companies had to pitch to show the full 120 second advert. Channel 4 won, and the advert was first shown in a commercial break during Gogglebox. Channel 4 last premiered the John Lewis advert in the 2012 advert that features the sad snowman looking for love.

Abi Mackman, Researcher/PR:

Oxo, 1984 onwards – My Christmas
“It’s just so nostalgic – the 80s clothes, the hair and even the decorations! It perfectly captures the idea that, for children, Christmas just happens. That’s a feeling that mums up and down the country will relate to, and that the mother in the advert shares with us through that knowing look at the end.”

Bonus fact: As a tribute to Lynda Bellingham, dubbed “The Oxo Mum”, ITV have announced that they will be showing a special one off airing of the Oxo adverts.

Angela Balaam, Senior Graphic Designer:

John Lewis, 2012 – The Journey
“It’s so magical! I really love the idea that things can come to life through the magic of Christmas, and the storyline combined with the song “Power Of Love” is guaranteed to bring to tear to the eye. I especially like the little robin who shows the snowman which way to go to buy the presents for his girlfriend.”

Bonus fact: The heart-warming advert was filmed in New Zealand in July, where snow for the festive scenes could be guaranteed.

James Royce, Technical Lead:

Ferrero Rocher, 1993 onwards – The Ambassadors Reception
“I know this isn’t strictly a Christmas advert, but they are always around! Someone always gets a box, tray or pyramid under the tree, and everyone loves a Ferrero Rocher. The dramatic soundtrack, the bad voice dubbing – it all adds up to something that’s so bad it’s good.”

Bonus fact: Ferrero (whose products include Nutella, Tic Tac mints, Kinder eggs and the famous Ambassador’s chocolate of choice) is one of the world’s top five confectionery companies.

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