Christmas Advertising: Does it work?

It’s November. The Edinburgh Christmas Festival is under construction, there’s been an afternoon of Christmas tunes on the Elastic Sonos already, and the Christmas Adverts are about to go live. So much effort (and money) is poured into campaigns to encourage us to part with our hard earned cash – but other than providing a bit of entertainment, does Christmas advertising actually work? Not surprisingly yes, yes it does.

Aldi and Kevin the Carrot

Kevin the Carrot featured in Aldi’s 2016 campaign and they’ve brought him back for a very good reason. The campaign saw a 15% increase in sales and attracted over 1 million new customers. Not only that but it also saw a dramatic increase in the number of customers who were doing their entire Christmas shop in their stores. Successful Christmas campaign? I think so. But the best was yet to come – the new customers pulled in by the 2016 Christmas campaign helped to deliver an extra £1bn in sales in 2017.

This year Kevin returns to the scene, attempting to win the love of Katie the carrot while dodging the terrifying hazards of the dreaded Christmas dinner table.

Marks & Spencer and ‘Paddington & The Christmas Visitor’

I’m already sold on this – mostly because of Paddington. But the 2017 adverts are playing on the same chords as the 2016 Mrs Claus advert and for good reason. The retail sector was on a shaky nail in 2016 as Christmas approached due to drastic drops in sales of big household names. The Per Una clothing line at M&S had been dwindling with customers claiming the style of the clothes wasn’t quite right for the audience. The 2016 featured a more classic, glamorous look for the over 50s (M&S’s biggest target audience) to freshen up the line a bit. But their big focus was on the emotional connection it made with its customers. A lot of brands have jumped on to the emotional Christmas bandwagon over the years but M&S nailed it last year. Sales rose by 0.8% in the clothing and homeware departments, which you might not think is a big number. However this was following 6 years of pretty bad loses in said departments so it was a step in the right direction and sales have been growing ever since. Customers even hailed the advert as better than a certain King of Christmas Adverts…

This year Paddington brings the emotional connection by helping Santa deliver his gifts on time and to the right people.

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The King of Christmas Advertising… John Lewis & #Underthebed

Now John Lewis is almost undisputedly the best in Christmas advertising – and it absolutely works. Proof that it works? 1. John Lewis sales went up 36% off the back of the 2016 Christmas campaign despite the tough festive period retailers were going through. 2. I can’t make it through all the Christmas adverts from 2011 onwards without dissolving into a sobbing mess. 2007 – 2011 adverts not so much. In 2009 John Lewis switched agencies to Adam&EveDDB and they have advertising down to a T.

The 2011 Christmas advert titled ‘The Long Wait’ showed a little boy, desperately trying to make time pass faster in the run up to Christmas. The twist was that the little boy wasn’t desperate to open his presents but desperate to give his parents their presents. Quick, grab some tissues! The reason it works is that it tells a story. Not just any story, but the story of the John Lewis brand. Every advert since 2011 has related to as aspect of the brand, and evoked an emotional response in the audience. And increased sales.

The full Christmas 2017 advert has now be released:

The moral of this story is to tell a story. Engage your audience with a story that reflects your brand. Need help telling your brand’s story? Come and speak to us at Elastic and see how we can help.


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