The Creatively Gifted: Christmas Adverts 2015

Freshwater London’s team looks at 2015’s Christmas TV advert offering – the good, the average, and the concept that every brand came up with.

In a Freshwater straw poll last year, we found that the advent (sorry) of Christmas adverts were one of the top things that got us into the festive spirit each year. Our colleagues in journalism must agree: as in previous years, 2015 has seen the media whip up a frenzy around Christmas campaigns from the biggest brands. Now that the first tranche of festive ads have hit the small screen, journalists across the board have been giving their run-down of the best and worst.

Recently, a trend has emerged for Christmas TV advertising more akin to mini-epics than sales-based marketing content.  Building on the success of its Monty The Penguin advert of 2014, John Lewis has delivered another tear-jerker in the form of its Man on the Moon concept – raising awareness of loneliness for elderly people and raising money from products for Age UK.

Sainsbury’s, the brand that really shone in 2014 with their World War I themed masterpiece (even if you didn’t like it, you were talking about it) have once again made a play to win the Christmas marketing battle. This year, beloved children’s book character, Mog the cat, is seen accidentally ruining Christmas for his family, only to have it saved by kindly neighbours.

The advert has been an instant hit with social media users, many declaring it 2015’s winner. A new Mog the cat book has also been released exclusively in Sainsbury’s stores, with profits going to Save the Children.

There has been some media commentary that these adverts, among others, are so full of ‘self-aware sentimentality’ and calculation that they encourage parody, thereby securing more publicity. Less cynical voices have pointed out that at least brands are using their huge platform to highlight causes alongside their Christmas wares.

By comparison, the likes of Tesco and Burberry have played it safe with celeb-laden commercials. Both tell their own brand story effectively, but the overall execution is not world-beating.

Finally, unless you’ve been extremely lucky (or bossy) about the Christmas presents you’d like to receive, you’ll know what it’s like to get a dodgy gift. We can see the appeal this shared experience must have held for the creative agencies involved, and bet our bottom dollar that concepts hinged on it tested well in focus groups.

Unfortunately, in those rare situations where you can hit the nail so firmly on the head, there’s a danger that others will too.

In the Christmas advert equivalent of wearing the same dress to the Oscars, Harvey Nichols, Lidl and PC World’s campaigns all riff on the message ‘avoid giving/getting a bad present’. When faced with three versions of the same idea, the consumer is unlikely to be able to pick out your campaign hashtag from a line-up. A shame, because each advert is executed well.

That’s our round up of Christmas adverts for this year – some great, some embarrassingly similar. Our advice for brands next year? Think outside the (gift) box…

Freshwater designs and implements
advertising campaigns across a range of sectors such as education, food & drink and leisure.


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Impact Report 2017

Impact report 2017