The unofficial start to our Christmas countdown has now begun. Nothing quite launches the season like our favourite festive TV adverts and this year John Lewis, M&S, Cadbury’s, Argos, TK Maxx, Morrisons, Littlewoods, Debenhams, Waitrose and Boots are all battling it out to win viewers, custom and sales.
Over the coming season, retailers are expected to spend up to an impressive £390 million on advertising, according to market analysts at Nielsen, and there is a lot of competition out there with brands trying to each stand out from the crowd.
We recently had the pleasure of hearing Hamish Pringle, a strategic marketing advisor, speak at the London iStrategy conference*. He shared with us findings that the average household makes an estimated 21 purchases a day* with the average individual being exposed to a whopping 1,009 daily adverts and commercial communications*.
Digital has evolved and revolutionised the way we market a brand but it is not either/or when it comes to traditional and digital media, they work best together to form a very powerful and effective way of sharing and connecting a brand to the consumer. Understanding the optimal balance of channel and content will ensure your voice is heard, your brand is seen and your message is believed.
To appreciate how much advertising has developed, here are some clips from the past 3 decades, including one of the very first Woolworths ads from 1983, the popular Coca-Cola ad from 2003 and this year’s John Lewis.
With the adoption of second and multi screen viewing, there is a unique opportunity to reach the right customer, at the right time with the right product. Before the introduction of the second screen, we’d probably use advert breaks to pop to the bathroom, make a cup of tea or channel flick, but now we often sit through the advertisements and use the time on our smartphone, tablet or laptop to browse the internet, read reviews and share on social media.
Smart retailers are being able to connect to viewers in a meaningful and personalised way by leveraging social media as an extension of TV advertising to track reaction, response, awareness, affinity and customer profiles.
The bear and hare, John Lewis 2013 :
John Lewis alone is spending £7 million on its Christmas campaign and have taken the top spot for many of us this year with their 2 minute animated piece. It includes no narrative, no humans and only one product which of course goes against many rules in the traditional marketers little black book but it has been made possible because social media is working with TV to tell a story and connect customers to the brand.
Message: Emotive and heart warming, the focus is on the importance of thoughtful gift giving and provoking ideas about what we will be buying for others and where we will be buying from. The storytelling piece warms the heart, entrusts the user and leaves us wanting to know more and, of course that is the point. The door is left open to continue the experience in-store and online. We want to know more about their friendship, their celebrations and the gift-giving so we move the discussion to social media.
Facebook: John Lewis have updated their cover photo, uploaded the video and allowed their Facebook community to raise questions and share feedback on the campaign. The number of page Likes has increased and will continue to do so as viewers move from TV screen to social screens. Behind the Likes, discussions and posts – John Lewis will gain insight and a priceless look at the demographics of the consumer, whilst also linking to further products and gift suggestions to boost sales.
Twitter: As soon as the advert was announced, Twitter was a magnet for conversations between both consumer and brand and consumer to consumer. The hashtag #bearandhare united people together to discuss their thoughts on the advert and arouse further discussion. John Lewis have cleverly set up 3 new Twitter pages – John Lewis Bear, John Lewis Hare and John Lewis Bear & Hare – and will be using these together to continue the story, build character and engage users. Another successful tactic is competitions and interactive votes and Twitter is the perfect kind of platform to host this on. This is exactly what M&S plan to do when they open up the opportunity to name the highland terrior from this year’s “Believe in Magic and Sparkle” campaign.
Audio: The music choice behind any marketing is extremely important and John Lewis have shown their understanding of this. Music is a way to connect people and bring them together, of all languages and ages and this year Lily Allen represents the voice behind John Lewis. This will be her step back into the limelight and after a history of chart topping John Lewis songs, this is sure to have the same effect. The song will be available to buy and become a topic of conversation in its own right. No doubt Lily Allen, her friends and her fans will keep the talk going onTwitter.
Products: As you will see in the Woolworths advert above, product placement was the focus of most marketing campaigns until recently. Of all the thousands of products available at John Lewis the only one product shown is an alarm clock, and last year they impressed with just 2 products, a hat and scarf. The reason why this works is because the clever story telling gives the product a value far higher than its actual worth.
Website: John Lewis have created a bear and hare campaign landing page on the main website that gives consumers direct access to an interactive book, the video, more details about the campaign and a very clever “Shop Bear and Hare” section which is already showing ‘out of stock’ on most items!
In-store: John Lewis have always offered magnificent window displays and impressive visual merchandising and this year is no different. With bear and the hare photo opportunities for children, the bears cave and plenty of Christmas decoration throughout the store, it is an impressive sight for all. And on the outside, the window displays bring the advert to life using recycled products that create a magical scene from the story.
Catalogue: John Lewis stick to their routes and have continued to mail out their Christmas catalogue that contains page after page of products and gift buying ideas for everyone.
Ultimately, the goal of this advertising is to capture interest, enough interest that leads people to either the website or the physical store and it then becomes the responsibility of the website or the store to convert that interest in to the important sales.
We are looking forward to seeing how the story unfolds over the coming weeks, and the outcome. As for the future of Christmas marketing, who knows what it holds but it will be bright, personalised and engaging.
It used to be that people would watch the ad and then find it on the internet. It is now the other way around. It’s as if we throw a pebble into the pond and watch the ripples spread out via social media. – Steven Sharp, M&S.
*Watch Hamish Pringle’s keynote session from iStrategy and download his presentation here. If you would like to discuss our marketing services and find out how we can help your brand make the most of digital, please call us on 0161 946 3851.