Do they know it’s Christmas? Yep, the seasonal ads are here

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At IF, it’s been slowly and now concretely drummed into us: Christmas is coming. If your clients aren’t ready yet, then you need to be.

Internally, it means designing our Christmas card, sorting the festivities and most importantly, making sure we are effortlessly ready to deliver everything before 2017 magically turns into 2018 (it also pays to have post-festive season campaigns tucked up and ready to spring into action).

Externally? Well, the campaign teasers are starting to filter through from the big B2C brands, the shelves are decked with toys, groaning with festive food and adorned with advent calendars. There’s also the ubiquitous POS stocking fillers (Secret Santa anyone?) everywhere you go. Love it or hate it, the countdown’s begun.

The first salvos in the Great 2017 Christmas Wars have been fired. John Lewis have possibly teased their new campaign. Is #underthebed theirs? Previously, Buster the Boxer and Man on the Moon started slowly before the ‘awwwww’ factor fully kicked in.

How very timely of M&S to put Paddington Bear into their campaign, especially as the film sequel is out. Lovely merch opportunity. Splendid.

Kevin the Carrot is back for Aldi, Lidl are creating festive family personas (great for an integrated campaign – split up one idea, give it legs), Argos have gone a bit Die Hard blockbuster with elves, a runway chase and tech toys.

Very are mixing an emotion/animation cocktail with a nod to Frozen for their ‘get more out of giving’, while Asda have gone big budget for their low-price lines in a lavish, Wonka-esque tale.

Last year? Wes Anderson/John Lennon for H&M, The Doll for McDonalds (a Christmas ad turkey?), a Robin for Waitrose, Pulp Fiction theme family acapella for TX Maxx, Mrs Claus for M&S, the roll-call rumbles on.

So, if you want to get to the heart of the season, aim for the emotional core of your audience. It’s about storytelling that resonates with them en-masse. Like emotional hypnosis dressed up in fake snow & fairly lights. Best way to do it?

  1. Anthropomorphise an animal, food or object – your cute Crimbo character is alive!
  2. Use whole families – make them quirky, resilient, loving, daring, but they need to be a fully-functioning campaign unit
  3. Alternatively, tell a festive romance (see this year’s Vodafone) where, even if the AA can’t get to you, or there are leaves on the line, you’ll get to them somehow
  4. Use as many Christmas tropes as humanly possible, subvert them where you can – even if it hasn’t snowed on the big day since 2010, no harm in filling the screen with it
  5. Music – go jingly, classical, or cover a classic with a choral rendition, but it has to have that heart-swelling payoff
  6. Sentiment – it’s about giving, families together, overcoming adversity, love, communal food sharing. It’s about the time of year when we desperately want to feel good (despite slaving over a stove and eating more than your body weight in one week, less than thrilling TV, schlepping back and forth to get to everybody. Bah humbug!)

However, all jolly cynicism aside, you can use all that seasonal sentiment to ramp up your messaging – especially for charities or good causes. Take Wrap Up London they’re collecting coats for homeless, elderly & refugee charities, using an experiential idea of cladding a clutch of iconic statues with bright red coats, to grab your attention.

Let us know which previous campaigns have sleighed you, or have been right turkeys. Which ones are you looking forward to seeing? And can somebody please tell us, are they actually excited about a big red and white truck pimping a (granted, awesome) soft drink to their town? *

* All deep-rooted cynicism is purely the sole preserve of the writer, not a reflection of IF as a whole. Now that’s a ‘family’ you want to get in a campaign

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