Despite the uncertainty over Brexit, this year’s Christmas shopping is set to be bigger than ever. According to the Centre for Retail Research, families will part with around £821.25 in the run up to Christmas, up 1.3 per cent compared to last year. Online shopping is predicted to be the biggest driver of growth, up almost 12 per cent on 2016, although high street spending is expected to drop, conversely, by around 2.5 per cent.
With all this cash floating around, it’s crucial that businesses master the art of Christmas marketing campaigns to ensure they achieve their potential over the festive period. Already we’ve seen some cracking Black Friday offers, and inventive marketing strategies, which are showing us that this year, more than ever before, simply adorning your email newsletter with holly and tinsel is just not enough.
Here are 10 of our all-time favourite Christmas marketing campaigns, which just go to show how far we’ve come in marketing excellence.
- Kevin the carrot: Aldi
The Aldi ad from 2016 offered the perfect blend of on-brand humour and a resonating message that was perfectly targeted at their audience. The appeal was wide, the carrot was hilarious, and it seemed like this budget German supermarket was even sending up the iconic John Lewis ads with its poetic take on Christmas Eve. It just goes to show; Christmas marketing doesn’t always have to be big budget or technically brilliant to really work well. See it for yourself here.
- With love from Mrs. Claus: M&S
Another gem from last Christmas, this 2016 tear-jerker brought together all that we love about M&S, and was actually very clever if you start to scratch the surface. As well as being a heart-warming story that their target market can relate to, the ad featured influencer marketing for things like gift wrap, clothing, decorations and more. It shifted equality boundaries, and brought M&S an increase in women’s clothing sales they had not seen for more than six years. Remind yourself of this heart-warming campaign here.
- Buster the boxer: John Lewis
We couldn’t do a top 10 Christmas marketing campaign without a nod to John Lewis. Renowned for bringing us the best Christmas TV ads of all time, John Lewis have managed to create such a stir around their festive campaigns that large portions of our nation actively seek them out in the run up to Christmas, to share and enjoy. As expected, last year’s offering was simply wonderful. But do you know what was more wonderful (in our opinion)? When Asda hijacked the buzz around Buster by promoting children’s trampolines within minutes after the John Lewis ad aired.
- The truck: Coca Cola
Another big brand that’s made a new Christmas tradition for all of us is Coca Cola. Lit by 372 lightbulbs and almost 9,000 fairy lights, the truck has made 397 stops in the UK since it launched in 2011, and despite the ‘Holidays are Coming’ advert being 22 years’ old this year, people still flock to see the truck in their local town and grab a free coke. This year the campaign has been fraught with drama, with public health authorities decrying their encouragement of fizzy drinks in deprived communities, and environmentalists raging about the use of plastic bottles. But, against all odds, the Christmas Coke Truck looks set to stay a big part of our pre-Christmas lives for years to come.
- Visit, don’t stay: Hotel Tonight
Not all Christmas marketing has to feature big-budget TV ads or multi-million-pound truck campaigns. In fact, clever almost always wins. Playing on the notion that although it’s lovely to visit family over the festive season, it’s not always so nice to stay overnight, Hotel Tonight released their hilarious and thought provoking online campaign in 2016. From dodging a night in your granny’s scary doll-filled guest room to avoiding an all-night charades party with Uncle Bob, this ad got us laughing and nodding along in equal measure.
- Beer Christmas tree: Carlsberg
When it comes to experiential marketing, Carlsberg are always one step ahead of the game. Remember the ‘Probably the best poster in the world’ campaign? Well, in 2015, they decided to top that one with the erection of a 27-foot-tall Christmas tree in London’s South Bank. The tree was, of course, covered in beer bottles, and featured a pump for dispensing lager (free of charge) and hand blown ‘beerble’ glasses for the first 100 visitors. What better way to bring in the Christmas cheer than with a bit of free booze?
- A year in music: Spotify
In 2015, Spotify created very clever ‘year in music’ personalised videos for their members. Using social channels to spread the word, users could log in and watch a mix of their most played and favourite sounds of the year. It was a clever way to market a service that doesn’t particularly support traditional festive advertising, and a great way to reengage members who were lapsed or on the verge of lapsing.
- Online advent calendar: Sandberg
For gaming fans, Sandberg is a name that is synonymous with quality. For marketers, however, their Christmas campaign just goes to show how inexpensive can work just as well as big budget numbers. For the month of December, users can visit the Sandberg website to open an advent calendar door each day, for a chance to win products from the Sandberg range. We’ve seen many iterations of the advent calendar genre each year, but in terms of quality prizes and target marketing, this one is a winner.
- All trees are beautiful: Reese’s
When things go wrong with your Christmas marketing efforts, take a leaf from our peanut buttery friends over at Reese’s and turn those negatives into a positive. After a flurry of criticism about their apparently Christmas tree shaped snacks (which looked more like squashed woodlice), Reese’s spawned a new campaign claiming that #alltreesarebeautiful. Although short-lived, the powerful Twitter campaign had an amazing response, and really turned things around for this brand.
- Santa forgot: Alzheimer’s Research UK
Let’s not forget that Christmas is a time for giving as much as for spending, and give a well-earned nod to Alzheimer’s Research for their ‘Santa forgot’ campaign. A two-minute animated film, it serves to highlight the range of symptoms that occur with Alzheimer’s, and how it can affect anyone, as well as the importance of supporting research into the causes. It’s not a typical blockbuster Christmas story, but a very important one nonetheless, as well as a great example of heartfelt marketing too.
Whether you’re playing with a budget of tens or billions of pounds at Christmas, there’s still plenty of opportunity to make an awesome Christmas marketing campaign of your own. Learn from the best, and make your festive marketing something to remember.