Christmas Crackers: The Most Successful Christmas Marketing Campaigns

It’s that time of year again, when the Christmas lights turn on, offices wind down in the run-up to the holidays, and your customers are getting ready for their most expensive time of year. To entice them, retailers and businesses need to get creative and offer seasonal marketing campaigns that not only offer a strong sales message, but an emotionally resonant one, too. Here’s our round-up of some of the most successful marketing campaigns of Christmas past and present.

John Lewis

You can’t talk about Christmas retail marketing without mentioning John Lewis. The British department store comes up trumps in the annual festive TV advert race year after year. Their winning combination of sentimental message and the soulful acoustic cover song has served to make them a stalwart of the Christmas marketing campaign.

From the snowmen couple of 2012 to the Bear and the Hare of 2013, by building cute, likeable characters John Lewis involve their customers emotionally in their advertising. If by some wild chance you haven’t yet witnessed this year’s commendably creative effort, it involves a small boy and his best friend, Monty the penguin. The advert follows their adventures and also Monty’s secret desire to find a mate. On Christmas morning, the boy gifts his best friend another penguin as a companion, only for his mother to walk in and reveal to the viewer that the Penguins are just toys. Combined, the 2012, 2013 and 2014 adverts have over 36 million views on Youtube.

But it wasn’t only a winningly sweet ad that has made John Lewis so successful in the Christmas marketing stakes; it’s the way they create an immersive 360-degree experience for their customers. For instance, you can download the full Monty and Mabel story from the John Lewis website, and the penguins even have their own Twitter accounts – which have around 32,000 combined followers. Monty was on sale for £95 in John Lewis – suffice to say, he has long since sold out and is selling for twice the original RRP on eBay. Luckily, John Lewis has extended the range to include clothing, slippers and homeware.

Coca Cola

You’ve probably heard someone say before that “it isn’t Christmas until you’ve seen the Coca Cola advert on TV” – such is the extent to which Coca Cola has managed to entrench themselves firmly into the contemporary spirit of Christmas.

First aired in 1995, the iconic advert features red trucks of Coke driving through a snowy landscape much to the delight of children and adults bundled up in hats and scarves, while a jolly background track chants: “holidays are coming”.

Much like John Lewis, Coca Cola has cleverly extended the reach of their Christmas marketing far beyond television. There is a specific portion of their website dedicated to their famous red, glowing trucks. You can even see the trucks for yourself on Coke’s dedicated tour around Great Britain. Customers are offered a chance to snap a photo next to one, and soak up the festive spirit with music, food… and of course, a free Coca Cola.

Even more interestingly, though, is that the Coca Cola Christmas experience extends beyond the product itself. The website gives visitors a chance to “send a Christmas wish” – you simply enter your wish for someone special into an online form to be sent to Santa. Once you’ve entered your wish, you are given the option to have it delivered via a Coca Cola truck, by Elf, in a bottle, or by special reindeer delivery. When you choose the latter, you’re provided with a personalised video of Santa unscrolling and reading your message – content personalisation at its best. Intertwining the brand so closely with all we recognise and love about Christmas has made the identity of Coca Cola positive, multidimensional and most importantly, inextricable from Christmas time.

Marks and Spencer

Previously renowned for using high budget celebrities and models such as David Gandy, Rosie Huntington Whiteley and Helena Bonham Carter in their festive ads, this year high street institution Marks and Spencer has taken a less conventional route with its Christmas advertising. Their “Follow the Fairies” campaign involves two fashionable fairies as they spread the Christmas cheer around the country. The ad aims to capture the “magic and sparkle” of the festive season, and again showcases a deliberate focus on sentimentality with its overarching “random acts of kindness” message.

Again though, what is most interesting about M&S’s current campaign is how it extends into other forms of consumable media, from print to digital. M&S have used social media, in particular, to reach more audiences with their fairies and bring their campaign to glittering, three-dimensional life. Executive Director for the retail chain, Patrick Bousquet-Chavanne, believes that this year will be the “biggest ever online Christmas in the UK and the most social Christmas”, fuelled by in the soaring increase in mobile phone and tablet usage.

The Two Fairies Twitter account has amassed over 28,000 followers and continues the random act of kindness theme. Launched in the weeks before the ad was aired during an episode of X Factor, it generated online chatter by events such as giving gifts to night shift workers – events which are unbranded and linked to the Twitter account rather than M&S, giving a distinct and separate voice to the campaign.

A pattern present in all three successful campaigns is the innovative use of social media and the digital space to extend their message past just being an ad – what we are seeing now are interactive and immersive seasonal experiences.

Clever Marketing - Surrey Digital Agency

If there are any particular Christmas ad campaigns you’d like to share with Clever Marketing then let us know in the comments section.

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