Christmas is to us what the Super Bowl is to America. Brands spend millions of pounds and most of the year working on creating an advert that will stand above the crowd and make the biggest emotional impact.
Costas Christmas Cups are out and Starbucks will soon be switching out the white paper cups for the red cups and releasing their Christmas drinks and just this weekend I saw my first Christmas Advert. It looks like Aldi were getting in the running early by releasing a teaser trailer.
It may only be November but it’s very clear that the holidays are coming and now the anticipation is starting to build as everyone anxiously waits for the big brands to release their entry for the Christmas Competition, all hoping to walk away being crowned ‘Christmas Winner of the Year 2018.’
The Christmas Competition was ‘born’ in 2011 when John Lewis released their Christmas Advert; ‘The Long Wait.’ No one can really pinpoint what it was that changed, but from there on out there was a shift in Christmas Advertising and it became the most exciting advertising opportunity of the year for us British - equivalent to America and it’s Super Bowl.
During my research for this article, I watched The Long Wait again (link above) and once again, it brought a tear to my eye like it did the first time I saw it all those years ago. There is something so sweet and so simple about the young boy being excited for Christmas, not because of the gifts he gets to open as you’d expect, but because of the gift, he gets to give. It is beautiful and sweet and pulled at the nation's heartstrings and it started something big.
Now every year John Lewis try to outdo themselves and as the years go on more and more brands are joining the competition. Sainsbury’s, Very and other brands including Vodafone, all of them wanting their chance to share the most heartwarming story. Unfortunately last year they just made the top 10, taking the heat from some of the other great contenders. Rumour is this year they've done the planning, spent the money and hope to come back and win with an Elton John centred tear-jerking advert.
These Christmas adverts aren’t really adverts, they're not selling you anything specific but instead are brilliant, emotionally compelling stories created solely to pull at your heartstrings to the point where you’re sat on your sofa with tears in your eyes because Mr Snowman bought Mrs Snowman a new hat and scarf (John Lewis 2012.) It’s about connecting with its audience on an emotional level and selling values and the true spirit of Christmas in the most creative and inspiring way to effectively ‘win Christmas.’
Some of the greatest Christmas adverts over the years, in my opinion, includes the John Lewis ad above, their Snowman advert was brilliant as was the year the fox made friends jumping on a snow covered trampoline. Sainsbury’s joined the competition in 2014 their ‘1914’ advert was made in partnership with The Royal British Legion and inspired by true events, highlighting the true spirit of Christmas. This was the first year Sainsbury’s attempted to fight for the Christmas Crown and their bid was successful.
Another one of their great ads was ‘The Greatest Gift’ musical advert with James Corden. It is probably one of my all-time favourite Christmas adverts even if it was a little hypocritical that Sainsbury’s, who make their colleagues work the entire Christmas period with only Christmas Day off was highlighting just how precious family time is, but I digress. It was a beautiful and catchy advert that highlighted the importance of spending time with your family. Unfortunately, it didn't win Christmas, but it did cone 3rd after John Lewis and Burberry.
As of last year, at least 15 brands competed in this unofficial competition to be the brand that wins Christmas meaning there are simply too many adverts to watch and discuss. Some of the other big contenders are Waitrose. Marks and Spencers, Boots and even Aldi stepped it up last year, taking the cake with ‘Kevin the Carrot’ and his adventures with 152% of the vote* and it appears they’re up for the challenge this year with Kevin the Carrot already gracing our TV screens with a teaser that will leave you, I don’t know, balancing on the edge of cliff, anxiously waiting to see what happens next!
Be honest, did you think it was the Coca-Cola advert when you first saw it because I sure did! Very clever tactic really because people always say 'Christmas doesn't start until you see the Coca-Cola advert!'
As the years go on and times change, so will the messages that resonate with the nation which means something that might have worked last year, won’t have the same impact this year. I don't know about you but I am anxiously awaiting the release of the other Christmas Adverts to see what stories they'll be sharing this year and who will be crowned the winner of 2018.