Seasonal Marketing & Christmas ads: The Digital Sparkle

 

Author: Eti Akter

It’s that time of year again. Though it feels like people have only just taken their pumpkins down, naturally, the Christmas adverts are here.

Since the release of John Lewis’s famous Christmas advert ‘The Long Wait’ back in 2011, Christmas adverts have become the official start of the festive season. There is a frenzy of anticipation each year, and the adverts are now a crucial touchpoint for brands to connect with an audience of Christmas fans who are ready to shop.

The Impact of Social Media

Christmas stockings and social

 

Social media has become a vital part of an advert’s success with millions of views and thousands of mentions spanning across all platforms.

Newsfeeds become cluttered with Christmas related posts and brands know exactly how to tap into these conversations. Before adverts are released, brands have started to release teasers on social media.

 

This creates a huge buzz and generates instant engagement as people eagerly await the launch of the advert. Before this year’s John Lewis advert was released, a five-second trailer accompanied by the hashtag #UnderTheBed started to circulate on Twitter. Brands have also started to create specific hashtags for their adverts, such as Sainsbury’s #everybitofchristmas. By doing so, they can easily monitor the success of their adverts across social media and gain feedback on what people think. Leading Christmas advert brands are trying new social media tactics this year.

Facebook launched a filter a year ago where you can turn yourself into Moz. Last year John Lewis teamed up with Snapchat allowing users to turn themselves into ‘Buster the Boxer’. This allowed the brand to reach a whole new audience, contributing to the overall success of the advert.

 

Recognize Your Christmas Audience

Where did you first see the 2018 Christmas advert?

Was it on TV during the Gogglebox ad break on 10 November along with 3 million other UK viewers?

 

Was it on YouTube or facebook? Did you stumble across it by accident? Or did you Google it, having been sucked into the Christmas advert hype?

The way that people consume Christmas adverts is changing, and we wonder how this affects the creative process that goes into them. With brands spending millions of pounds and many months on their Christmas ad campaigns, are they missing a trick by still thinking of them as “TV” adverts?

Santa on laptop

 

Does the customer’s mindset change when they go from a passive armchair viewer to an active consumer of the advert, searching for a particular brand’s Christmas content? Can brands capitalise on this?

And if so, how?

 

To date, over 26 million people have viewed last year’s John Lewis advert on YouTube and according to Social Bakers; this represents only 40% of online views. Their 2016 social media analytics revealed that 90% of all interactions and 60% of all online views of Christmas TV adverts were via Facebook. These are huge viewing numbers from a more pre-engaged audience than passive TV viewers. Surely brands would be mad not to use this to their advantage.

 

Top 5 Christmas adverts for 2018

Argos

The star of Argos’ ad is an annoying little creature which the brand is calling a ‘fool’, which looks a bit like a smaller Dobby, the house elf from Harry Potter. However, unlike Dobby, the fool is rather unpleasant as it embarks upon a mission to ruin Christmas preparations for families however it can. But, never fear; the fool is rounded up with a load of other captured fools by an Argos Fast Track delivery driver who saves the day, would you believe it? It’s funny at times, but the ‘fool’ gives us the heebie-jeebies.

 

Lidl

Similarly to last year, Lidl has returned with three short festive ads, each with the same theme of ‘Upgrade your Christmas’. The message is clear: these holiday revellers should have just updated their Christmas a ‘Lidl bit’ – via the supermarket’s new gin and party food rather than a giant Christmas tree, 16-piece orchestra or imported snow from the Arctic. We like the theme and some of it’s a laugh, but would one longer ad have been better?

Ad collage

 

Boots

The feelings evoked in the brand’s 2018 advert will resonate with mothers and daughters all over as we see a teenage girl and her Mum struggle to just get each other: From Mum disapproving of her daughter’s make-up to the girl sneakily using Mum’s perfume ensuring it actually runs out, it’s all very relatable. Their changeable relationship continues until the daughter is shook to see her mum singing Christmas carols in a choir and that’s where she finally understands her Mum a little more as she realises performing is her passion. We were surprised to see the song take inspiration from Robbie Williams ‘She’s the One’, but it’s kind of cute!

 

Asda

Differing to last year’s tale of a girl and her granddad who stumble upon a Christmas factory, it’s a much noisier 2018 offering. Christmas well and truly kicks off with a bang in the ad, when Santa launches a flaming Christmas pudding into the air out of cannon. Next up, there are Santa Clauses on motorbikes, driving yetis, a giant polar bear and plenty of Asda George-wearing Christmas revellers. It’s a fun advert and gets bonus points for using one of the best, and most underrated, festive songs ‘Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)’ by Darlene Love.

 

Tesco

The supermarket’s first Christmas ad offering centres around family, similar to last year, and more specifically around the classic festive debates: Traditional turkey or goose? Go out for a Christmas Day walk or not moving from the sofa all day? Sprouts or nah? Set to an orchestral version of Fleetwood Mac’s ‘Go Your Own Way’, we enjoy the family references we’re all too familiar with – and the music and all that food is making us hungry.

 

Any ideas on planning an engaging 2019 digital ad for your brand or business?

 

Drop us an email at contact@content-45.com as we look forward to helping you achieve creative success and results in seasonal execution.

 

Festive greetings everyone!

Good Video: Planning

Last week we have discussed the importance of understanding the video and how people use variety of things together to create an ambience that pulls a viewer in (alongside some examples). What I want to bring up today is even more important, yet rarely discussed and widely ignored by people who are starting out: planning.

Before we start, let me address one issue, there is nothing wrong with improvisation and the “spirit of the moment”, but those will come way easier when you have planned before. The idea is brutally simple if you have planned for most of the video already, the unexpected moments are much easier to deal with. Whether it is a spark of creative energy or equipment malfunction.

Let’s tackle them step by step:

  1. Message and feeling

Now I am going to sound like a broken record yet once more: “CHECK YOUR AUDIENCE & WHAT MESSAGE THEY RESPOND TO?”. This includes any stats, info, pen portraits, season, feeling, client’s wishes and so on. Not to sound ominous, but if you at least don’t keep this in mind, you will fail.

So, with Christmas advertising long done and launched we are focusing on other things coming up. Mostly, the spring and summer stuff, but let’s pause on Christmas. Jolly seasons can be one of the toughest shoots you will ever do (especially if you are shooting outside). At this time you need to convey a certain feeling and the cheer of the world. Despite how good it looks at the end trust me it can be a gruelling experience. The weather has to become your friend not your enemy. Let’s be honest don’t you think Christmas as soon as you see snow (just look at John Lewis Snowman advert OOH gets me every time).

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0N8axp9nHNU

  1. Script & Strips (reel, comic, line or whatever else people call it)

No here is a fun thing, to me this is “chicken and the egg” situation, which comes first. I prefer to have a script first, so I roughly understand what shots to use, how to position the characters better etc. Some people are the opposite, do the scenes first figure out the moves later. My advice is start using my way, because generally it is easier (and it is the right way).

Here is a rough mock-up I did for one of mine “free time” projects.

Scene 1: Car Upside down after a crush. Screaching sounds and a man in pain.

Car upside down

Scene 2: Flash back to how we got there. Two young lads walking to a car discussing the night after a couple of drinks.

Walk to the car

Scene 3: Following the car from the back (3rd person view). The driver (one of the friends) gets annoyed with a car in front for obbeying the speed limits.

Swerve

Scene 4: After the crush is repeated quickly we cut to a hospital corridor where one of the guys is summoning the courage to go inside the hospital room.

Scene Hospital Corridor

Scene 5: When he finally enters, viewer sees a guy in a wheel chair looking out of the window. Close up to the lips and chin of the guy who walked in.

“Hi, I am … sorry”

Inside patient room

Scene 6: Cut to black, logo and slogan appear (dead silence)

  1. Equipment

Now I am first in line of people who will say you can shoot a great video on your iPad. However, for some projects this may simply not be enough. So, before you venture out there, plan what will you take and when will you use it.

  1. Actors, products, places

Now here is where all the preparation comes in. If you have worked hard on stage 2, this will be easy, as you will have a very clear idea of what to do next. This will include all the locations and what people have to look like. Of course, you will rarely be able to find exactly what you were looking for, but at least you will come close because of the work done.

Now actors, as you grow you will be able to hire models, actors etc., but for now try to stick to your friends or aspiring “Instagrammers” (yes very easy to find there and cheap). When looking for actors make sure you know what you want them to look like and what role to play. Maybe give them examples or even exercises to do. If it is a lady, make sure to specify the make-up too. Will save loads of time.

Products, well, relatively simple. Make sure you ask your client for at least 3 samples of whatever you will be shooting. Additionally you might want to learn a few  “fake” product tricks (Please let me now in comments and I will either write a blog about it or message you directly).

  1. Shoot dates (organising people and weather)

Now we come to the painful bit, making sure everyone and everything is available. Now in the full professional shoot that wouldn’t be a problem you hire actors and models, you say they come. But unfortunately, you are not there yet. So my advice prepare a week in advance and make sure (during the week) everyone sticks to the plan.

The worst moment is when you have to shoot in a particular weather. Unless you know your way around AfterEffects & PremierePro (or powerful enough alternatives), you will need to wait. This especially puts more pressure on you and your crew, as everyone has to be available as soon as the rain, snow etc. hits.

To sum up this week’s video idea there are three words: “Plan for everything”. If do your planning in advance you will free up so much time to improvise and add a few different angles to your shoot that you might have not thought of doing before.

This is it for video advice this week, but look out for next week’s blog on actual shooting and editing to make your final video shine.

Great Video: Some basics you need to know

Have you ever wondered why your videos don’t get as many views or aren’t as popular as movies or adverts of famous producers or directors?

Well, at the heart of every great director is his or her own style. One of my favourite examples is Steven Spielberg (yes, I am biased). There are plenty of articles written about his style yet adverts and films are slightly different animals.

If you are considering shooting your own videos, our first suggestion is to look at the ads and see the differences. Mainly, pay attention to angles, close-ups and scenery shots, before understanding why the director decided to use them and why are they in specific sequence.

Now listen to the audio type, soundtracks and how it sets the mood. More importantly how throughout a video the sound can change dramatically. Then, pay attention to the effects and how they set the mood (i.e. darker shots make you worried or sad, brighter and lighter make you energetic and happy). Also, when it comes to adverts, use of text is very popular, pay attention to that too. After you examined everything, individually piece it all together.

 

Now, I would like to share some examples that I believe are greats of what I mentioned. Next week, I will go into a bit more detail of how to plan your shoots and what will you need to start.

One of the first and perhaps memorable campaigns (First video was what got me into being more fit).

 

Another Nike Advert (more recent) but in a very different style done in Russia.

 

All I can say is three words. Quick, powerful, iconic.

 

I do not need to explain anything here at all.