**** I originally wrote this piece for Signal Media, where I am a marketing intern ****
Christmas adverts have entered the realms of tradition during the festive period, finding their place amongst the brussels sprouts and tinsel. But with high anticipation comes strong critique; with some brands this year facing backlash and complaints from the media and viewers alike. We used Signal Monitor, our AI-powered media monitoring platform, to surface sentiment and opinion on the big brands’ efforts this year.
John Lewis is perhaps under the greatest pressure, as in 2007 the high street heavyweight released the first advert of this kind, sparking what has become a trend in British popular culture. Fast forward to present day; the retailer hoped to warm the cockles of viewers’ hearts with the tale of a young boy and #MozTheMonster. Bonding over a shared love of flatulence and ScalextricTM, the pair become good friends. Overall the advert was met with mixed reactions; with The Daily Mail’s headline reading “Britain Breaks Down in Tears Watching Moz the Monster”. However, the Metro’s advert league table put John Lewis at number 12 of 21, with a festive spirit score of 6.5 out of 10, losing out to its sister brand, Waitrose, which took the top spot. According to the Evening Standard, social media remained as divided as ever. Though perhaps, one of the best and most comical responses to the advert came from a Twitter user who bears the same name as the brand. Father of four @JohnLewis from Blacksburg, Virginia seems to be an amazing sport and happily responds to users bombarding him with comments and questions following the release of the advert intended for @johnlewisretail, reported Cambridge News.
Marks and Spencer’s advert starred Paddington Bear and also served as a plug for his return to the big screen in Paddington 2. Unfortunately, the 90-second video garnered a swathe of negative press after the Advertising Standards Authority investigated complaints from viewers who believed to have heard the bear being sworn at with the F-Bomb instead of “Thank you, little bear”. However, many loved the ad with The Express calling Paddington a “festive hero” and the Metro awarding M&S fifth place in their Christmas ranking.
Though the Sainsbury’s offering may not have attracted the same volume of coverage or YouTube views as some of the other supermarkets, there was a strong positive sentiment towards their black and white karaoke, ‘Every bit of Christmas’. Featuring candid home-video contributions from the public, the advert was labelled a “riotous sing-along” by the Daily Mail. The Evening Standard even speculated that the “feel good” song could become Christmas number one due to its availability on Spotify.
Aldi’s ‘Kevin the Carrot’ generated a wave of excitement as the unlikely hero made a Christmas comeback, this time with a love interest, Katie the Carrot. Toy replicas of the characters are reportedly flying off the shelves so fast that Aldi has had to limit customers to three toys each, according to The Sun. However, there is always one scrooge at Christmas and in a comment piece for the Irish Sun, Adam Postans voiced how irked he was by “that excruciating Aldi carrot who I’d love to introduce to a vegetable peeler and grater.”
‘Everyone is Welcome’ is the inclusive message at the centre of Tesco’s Christmas advert. However, the brand faced a bit of backlash with some shoppers threatening on social media to boycott the supermarket. One piece published by The Independent took issue with the hypocrisy of featuring a Muslim family when the brand doesn’t sell halal turkey. Though some customers seemingly welcomed the boycott by others; Twitter user @BunkanMerguson said “Gonna be much easier to get my Christmas shopping now all these tiresome a******** are boycotting Tesco.”
Christmas adverts from Waitrose, House of Fraser, Morrisons and Boots all showcased families coming together with gift giving and food and generally received a positive response even if they didn’t hit high volumes of coverage. Toys R Us did well to recycle their classic song in an animated feature that sees the return of Geoffrey the giraffe – this time starring as a part-time reindeer. Another almost unanimously popular advert was Debenhams’ retelling of Cinderella, complete with an updated social media orientated storyline.
Asda was quick off the mark this year, releasing their advert more than 50 days before Christmas and pipping John Lewis to the post – something that the media picked up on. While TK Maxx received a polite tip of the hat for their promise of a white Christmas, “…delivered straight to your door”. Lidl’s series of ads, featuring characters such as the Mince Pie Maverick and the Tipple Technician was voted as the fourth best advert this year by Daily Mail readers.
All the supermarkets plus major bricks-and-mortar and online retail brands have put out Christmas ads this year lavishing large amounts of their annual marketing budget on producing and promoting them. It’s now a nervous wait for them to see how these campaigns translate into footfall, traffic and are ultimately reflected in their sales figures. In the short term at least, the real winners are the ad agencies profiting from the retail sector’s seasonal desire to pull at the consumer’s heartstrings as much as their purse strings.
By Vicki Shadbolt
Originally published by Signal Media on their website.