Come the 25th December, across the land, people of all ages will be crowing Noddy Holder’s infamous phrase – ‘It’s Christmas!”
Well…in Adland it already is – come forth the Christmas ads.
From the heart-warming, the funny and right the way through to the cringeworthy. We are now hurtling towards the 25th December and St Nick will upon us quicker than you can say Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer.
But fear not, I’m not going to critique the Christmas ads of 2015- I’ll leave that up to the courts of the inquisition over at Campaign. Instead, I want to talk about why Christmas gets the advertising industry jingling our bells.
Despite the stress, the late-nights and the brutal deadlines, I love how the perceptions of advertising change during the festive period. So often advertising is met with vitriol and evasion, but, come Christmas time, our industry’s work is celebrated like the opening of a Mulberry handbag on Christmas morn (n.b. see Mulberry’s Christmas offering to fully understand.)
I find the level of excitement from the increasingly cynical public at the release of Adam & Eve DDB’s John Lewis ad fascinating. There have been many great ads made, but there appears to be a somewhat magical combination of nostalgia, childhood memories and downright festive joy that Christmas adverts derive, sending the public into a veritable frenzy.
It’s easy to argue that the John Lewis advert has become television’s equivalent of your local Christmas lights switch on accompanied by an ex-band member from Steps. These Christmas ads are now the signal. The gunshot that Christmas is here. Ding dong merrily on high indeed.
But what a compliment the public pays our industry come Christmas time. The John Lewis ad has already driven in excess of 18m views on YouTube alone– a truly astounding amount of views in such a short period of time, even if there are a few gremlins out there questioning the physics of such an advert. Straight on to the naughty list for you!
The Christmas cheer is not limited to John Lewis either. Last week, Sainsbury’s released a warning ad against the ownership cats, and within half an hour I saw it on Facebook. Not shared by an advertising colleague, but by a chap who works in insurance – who knew they were allowed to look away from spreadsheets.
However, these Christmas crackers do heap massive pressure on an agency. You are no longer selling a product or a brand, but producing a piece of culture, with the added pressure that comes with the follow-up 12 months down the line. But what a fantastic challenge to be presented with!
This year we have again seen brands try to make themselves part of a bigger story, which to me seems like something that all brands should be doing. We have seen John Lewis support Age UK and Sainsbury’s use their ads to promote child literacy concerns – a great way of recognising the power of advertising and hopefully getting all of us to think beyond all the parties and commercialism of Christmas.
If advertising does nothing else, it does always manage to define eras. Little else sums up the 90s quite as well as the HHCL Tango ads. Does this mean that the mid 2010s will be known as the most sentimental decade since the Roman abandonment of the northern front in 383 AD? (I’m pretty sure that some Britons were lamenting the loss of underfloor heating as Vikings came and did some characteristic pillaging?) Hopefully in 2016 and beyond we will continue to see brands produce beautiful advertising, whilst looking to raise awareness about some of the more important issues in life.
Keep up the good work industry, friends.