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A very digital Christmas to you, too

A couple of years ago we posted a blog entitled ‘Release the hounds’. It focused on the onslaught of seasonal commercials, and despite the fact everyone here on Bridge Street loves festive fun, the headline is pretty fitting.
Even if we do say so ourselves.
November brings with it plenty of things- from fireworks and terrified pets to incessant wind and rain. There are few aspects of the month as iconic as the arrival of the Christmas ad campaigns, though. A gung-ho, everything-and-the-kitchen-sink attempt by retailers to secure the hard-earned cash of consumers keen to have it all in place for 25th December.
As the Daily Mail recently wrote, this event gets earlier with every passing year. 2015’s campaigns, for example, began early November, more than 50 shopping days before the main event, with ASDA unveiling its TV spot during ITV’s X Factor, and running teasers throughout the day. Focused on digital first- the televised clip is secondary to an online push that centres on the hashtag #becauseitschristmas.
Of course it’s still far too early to judge success rates. The real test comes after the holidays, when figures for the whole period are available. Nevertheless, it’s unlikely bosses of the U.S.-owned supermarket will be thrilled at the news. Which brings to mind a serious question- are we tiring of the standard approach to selling season’s greetings?
John Lewis, for example, has opted for yet another heartstring-puller, compete with twee, acoustic version of a well-known song (this time it’s Half A World Away by Oasis, here given the Aurora treatment). Again, it’s part of a wider campaign, #manonthemoon. Meanwhile, Marks & Spencer responded, just hours later, with what The Mirror described as a ‘full-throttle’ commercial. Here are both back to back, see which grabs you more.

The M&S effort is particularly interesting, as it was used to lure in more customers to its loyalty scheme, Sparks. The commercial was made available to them before being aired on TV or uploaded to YouTube. Apparently it worked, bringing in a staggering 200,000 additional members in the first four days after launch. The high street giant has also made a potentially shrewd move, creating a ‘box set’ of shorter adverts, ‘in sync’ with how people watch clips on their mobile devices, responding to the surge in mobile shopping Britain has seen in recent times.
Not to be outdone, the discounters have also gone the full hog for Christmas this year. #Schoolofchristmas by Lidl beat the rest to the internet (although aired on TV after ASDA’s), setting the scene in an imagined classroom where people learn about the perfect ingredients for the ultimate festive celebration. This is backed up by content across a range of digital channels, where people can take ‘extra classes’ in order to up their seasonal game.
Main rival, Aldi, has #Aldifavouritethings as its focal point, re-working the classic Sound of Music anthem to tie in with key products and lines it’s trying to push this year. Meanwhile, Sainsbury’s revived its ‘Mog’ cat character in a bid to help people forget last year’s highly controversial World War One-themed idea, managing to sell out of the cuddly stuffed toy version after it first aired. And, finally, Tesco has opted to draft in stars of Gavin & Stacey to help garner support from British shoppers.

So the gloves are definitely off, and on a multitude of platforms- with this Christmas already confirmed as the most digital Yuletide in the history of U.K. festivities. Aldi has even just release the following clip, mocking John Lewis’ sentimentality. But who will win, who will lose, who will just do OK? Let us know your thoughts on the best, worst and could-maybe-have-done-betters via the comments form below.

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