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Retailers turn on the tears (and penguins) for their 2014 Christmas campaigns

Christmas campaigns have been taken to a new level this year thanks to our English pals and retail/grocery giants, John Lewis and Sainsburys . Both of the brands have gone for an interesting approach in their 2014 Christmas campaigns. With both advertisements being released virally through YouTube last month, their approach is not what most of us would expect in a ‘normal’ Christmas advertisement.

There are no shots of a happy family skipping through immaculate tinsel-laden stores, or families sitting around an overdressed Christmas tree next to a mountain of presents. Santa doesn’t even make an appearance! This year the campaigns are all about the emotions of Christmas and tugging on the heartstrings.

Although the advertisements are completely different in story, production and theme, there are quite a few similarities between the two:

  • There is only one actual Christmas present opened.
  • The present is opened at the very end after the audience has connected with the central character.
  • The present that is opened is a sentimental gift and not fancy or expensive.
  • Both of the the central characters are male.
  • There is a need for companionship at Christmas time.
  • The brand is only shown briefly right at the end of the advertisement.

In addition to the actual advertisements having some similarities, the overall message of the campaigns also sings along to the same tune. John Lewis is encouraging us to ‘Give someone the Christmas they’ve been dreaming of’ while Sainsbury’s somewhat epic campaign is reminding us that ‘Christmas is for sharing.’

John Lewis appears to be identifying more with the family side of Christmas by using a little boy, playing on imagination and introducing us to Monty the penguin. The very clever angle of introducing Monty the penguin (and his girlfriend Mabel) is that John Lewis also created a sellable mascot for their campaign. ‘Monty mania’ swept through the UK with all John Lewis stores selling out of the the soft toy versions of the cute pair.

Sainsbury’s took a more grown-up approach obviously targeting a different market by encompassing history, patriotism and teaming up with the Royal British Legion to make the advertisement. However, both of the campaigns are purely about branding and instilling an image that hopefully consumers will want to be a part of. This will also assist in their overall SEO with people Googling the advertisements online.

The agencies behind these two campaigns had to do something extremely different and ‘out-of-character’ with their Christmas campaigns in order to keep the interest and loyalty of their existing and potential customer base. With so much Christmas money spent online and overseas, many of the larger retailers are doing their best to reel their countrymen in and get them to spend their money locally with a brand they know, trust and identify with. And nothing builds up trust like emotion.

By tugging on the heartstrings it will be interesting to see if these campaigns also tug on the purse strings of their customers as well.

Watch both the commercials here.

CONSUMER JohnLewis 112020

John Lewis 2014 Christmas advertisement

Sainsburys 2014 Christmas Campaign

Sainsbury’s 2014 Christmas advertisement